LONDON: The FA Cup should offer an opportunity for footballing fresh air away from the relentless pressure of the Premier League. But Manchester United’s players are beyond that. Their performance, in edging third division Sheffield United 1-0, was pedestrian and dismal.
A stoppage-time penalty from out-of-sorts captain Wayne Rooney pushed United into the fourth round but it was poor preparation for Tuesday’s Premier League return at Newcastle.
On top of that Bastian Schweinsteiger, one of United’s better players at Old Trafford, suffered a knee injury which still awaits assessment. Schweinsteiger was injured in a 50/50 challenge and limped through the last 10 minutes of the game because United had already used their three substitutes.
Manager Louis Van Gaal said: “It shall be difficult for Schweinsteiger to play against Newcastle. Everyone thought at first he had an ankle problem but I think it’s more the knee than the ankle.”
United managed only two shots on target – one was the penalty – to fuel criticism from not only impatient fans but old heroes including former England midfielder Paul Scholes. He said: “I’ve tried to defend this team for the past two or three weeks but it’s becoming more difficult because every time you come to Old Trafford you see negative football.
“The players look bored, the fans are bored, everyone’s bored. You look across at the bench and Van Gaal looks bored as well. I would be sat with my head in my hands after that performance. It would take me two or three days to get over it.”