United Find Salvation In Cups
Manchester United remain top of the EPL going into the final nine games of the season.
But troubles on and off the pitch threatened to derail the 18-times English league champions, before FA Cup and Champions League progress this week.
Two EPL defeats in five days, at Chelsea and bitter rivals Liverpool, have cut United’s lead at the top of the EPL to just three points.
Injuries to centre-back pairing Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic left them fielding an inexperienced centre-back pairing in the narrow squeak past Olympique Marseille in the Champions League this week.
Manager Sir Alex Ferguson has had problems with the media and match officials as he has uncharacteristically allowed pressure to show publicly.
And there was further disturbing news about club legend Bryan Robson, who underwent throat cancer surgery earlier this month.
Ferguson was undertaking a vow of media silence when United lost at Anfield. But he soon branded as “disgraceful” the Jamie Carragher tackle which saw Portuguese winger Nani stretchered off with a badly gashed shin.
Ferguson “confirmed” that Nani would not be back in action until April. But Nani returned to United’s starting line-up this week, having missed just one match.
Ferguson’s condemnation of match official Martin Atkinson after the Chelsea defeat has led to a five-match touchline ban, starting with United’s visit to West Ham on April 2nd.
Ferguson said: “you want a fair referee – a strong referee, and we didn’t get that.” The ban, which comes with a £30,000 fine, includes a two-match suspended ban for erroneously suggesting last season that referee Alan Wiley was not “fit enough.”
Ferdinand and Vidic were replaced by Chris Smalling and Wes Brown in United’s Champions League victory, which came courtesy of a brace by Mexican frontman Javier Hernandez.
Ferdinand has been out with a calf injury since early February and Vidic picked up a similar injury in United’s 2-0 win over Arsenal in the FA Cup quarter-finals, a match which saw United field seven recognised defenders.
United will now face arch-rivals Manchester City in a Wembley FA Cup semi-final in mid-April.
Former United “captain marvel” Bryan Robson underwent surgery to remove a tumour from his throat on March 3rd in Thailand, where he is currently national team coach.
In a statement, United said medics were “confident the condition is treatable.”
United host Bolton Wanderers in the EPL this weekend in a rare 3pm Saturday kick-off.
Tags: Manchester United, EPL, FA Cup, Champions League, Sir Alex Ferguson, Nani, Javier Hernandez