United won’t find glory in cup pursuits


There were a number of issues surrounding Manchester United’s clash with Liverpool on Sunday and most of them don’t need highlighting.


Kenny Dalglish’s side were eventual winners when Dirk Kuyt made it 2-1 with just a couple of minutes to go at Anfield.


Sir Alex Ferguson is never happy losing to one of his club’s fiercest rivals, but this latest loss is not exactly the worst it could have been.


The Old Trafford club have some injury issues at the moment with Wayne Rooney, Tom Cleverley and Phil Jones all missing through some problem or another.

Although United have sufficient numbers to reinforce their defence, they have lost two of their most influential defenders in Jones (or a midfielder, you choose) and club captain Nemanja Vidic.


Tom Cleverley should not really be considered an integral part of the first team as it is his first proper season playing, but his early promise has already led many to consider him a key factor to any United success.


The biggest loss is obviously that of Rooney, but there has been no concrete time frame put on how long he will be missing and is expected to return on Sunday against Chelsea.


With the form of Manchester City putting pressure on the Red Devils, this is set to be one of the toughest second halves to a season Ferguson has had in a while.


One less competition to worry about will be no bad thing, especially when their Europa League campaign kicks off in just over two weeks.


That is an energy sapping competition at the best of times and a weekend break in three weeks may be just what his side need.


Ferguson is never one to give up a fight and you can be sure his United side will be there or thereabouts come the business end of the season, battling to retain their league title.


However, the size and quality of Roberto Mancini’s squad means it will be the red side of Manchester who are most likely to struggle with a two-front trophy race.


United are a Champions League side and are regularly champions of the Premier League, they do not need a Europa League campaign.


Ferguson is likely to say that he takes every game seriously and wants to win every competition his side are in, but it will do them no harm to use a few younger and lesser-used members of their squad in the tie with Ajax.


The Dutch side are likely to provide a stern test but not one stern enough to trouble the likes of United – although we did say that about their opponents in Champions League group didn’t we?


If there is one competition United need to prioritise at all, it is the league. This is because Mancini has indicated he will do the same, something that should worry the Scot.


Professional pride and a liking for a challenge, especially from such close rivals, will mean Ferguson will do everything possible to overhaul the Citizens but this could prove to be one challenge too far for the 70-year-old.


If he is to do it, he will need to be rid of the pesky Europa League and the fixture strain the Champions League wooden spoon brings with it.

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