Giant killings – the FA Cup is famous for them. We’ve been on the end of a couple ourselves and in recent memory Liverpool and Chelsea have been upset by smaller teams.
Sitting a whopping 93 places below us non League Crawley, also known as the Red Devils, will come to Old Trafford today hoping not to be overawed by the occasion but in all likelihood the fairytale will end here for them. Making it into the 5th round is achievement enough and whilst victories over Derby County and Torquay are to be commended, United are a completely different proposition.
The team known as ‘the Man City of non league football’ were allocated and in turn sold 11,600 tickets so this should a decent affair and if they are as up for it as they and their fans have sounded in the build up to the game we should be in for a treat.
Teams: Sir Alex has stated he will go with the team that beat Southampton in the last round bar some obvious injury enforced absences. Jonny Evans and Michael Owen will both miss the tie but with Bebe ready to step in and a defensive reshuffle this should be of no concern.
The main talking point in our team selection is youngsters, a number of academy/reserve players were given squad numbers yesterday: Joshua King 41, Paul Pogba 42, Ryan Tunnicliffe 46 and Oliver Norwood 47 add this to Brady and Morrison who were given squad numbers earlier in the season and the excitement over who could be involved is justified.
Crawley Town will miss John Dempster and Josh Simpson who are both cup-tied whilst Scott Neilson miss out because of a foot injury.
Form: Although not many of them will have be involved in the tie, United will be on a high having defeated C*ty last week. The game was meant to test our mettle having been defeated the week before by Wolves but a moment of magic from Wayne Rooney meant that the Wolves loss would not linger long in our memories. United have lost just twice this season.
Crawley are on a hot streak themselves and have not tasted defeat since losing to Dartford in the FA Trophy on December 14th. In their last 6 games they have won 3 times and had to settle for a draw in the other 3 games.
United Last 6: WWWWLW
Crawley Last 6: DWWDWD
Last meeting: United have never met Crawley before.
Facts: United have conceded just 8 goals in the last 15 FA Cup ties and never more than one in a game so Crawley’s best hope is a 1-0 victory but even that looks unlikely as we haven’t conceded in our last 4 games against non league opposition.
The odds are further stacked against them considering that prior to this season Crawley hadn’t won an FA Cup tie in 7 years.
It would be remiss of me to completely dismiss Crawley but anything other than victory will be a shock even with a weakened side. The FA Cup is another trophy that we have a pretty good chance of winning and with Everton taking on Chelsea a potential challenger will be knocked out making the task that much easier.
I think that all eyes will be on our bench and hopefully if we are in a comfortable enough position we may see a youngster make their debut (or in Morrison’s case a second appearance.) Saying that I wouldn’t be surprised if Sir Alex even threw one of them in from the start.