Leeds 0-3 Man Utd – Golden oldies turn on the style
Wednesday 21 September 2011
Leeds 0-3 Man Utd
Owen, 15, 32; Giggs 45+1
Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose, as Eric Cantona might say. Over the last decade or so the League Cup has been the place for the bigger teams to blood their youngsters. However, Manchester United turned that policy on its head in this game. Sir Alex Ferguson’s side has been sweeping all before it in the Premier League this season with a team full of youngsters and so it was a chance for the older, more experienced players to remind people they were still plying their trade for the Old Trafford club.
None of Manchester United’s starting XI could realistically claim to be a guaranteed first teamer this season, yet five of them lined up to take on Barcelona in the Champions League final less than four months ago (and that’s not including Dimitar Berbatov) a testament, if ever there was one, to Ferguson’s ability to regenerate his teams with the minimum of fuss but the maximum of effect.
That’s not to say there wasn’t any room for United youngsters in this League Cup match-up with three of them – Ezekiel Fryers, Paul Pogba and Larnell Cole – making their debuts. But they were shown the way by two older hands - Michael Owen (31) and Ryan Giggs (37) – doing the damage and realistically the game was over as a contest at half time with the visitors already 3-0 to the good. Indeed the second half was nothing if not uneventful.
By contrast, their hosts fielded their strongest available line-up; the Elland Road side missing only Patrick Kisnorbo who was serving a one-match ban after being sent off against Bristol City at the weekend. In a sense that demonstrated how great the gap between the two clubs has grown since Leeds bested United for the last League title before the birth of the Premier League way back in 1992. A makeshift Manchester United side, which included a left back and a midfielder in the centre of defence, easily took apart a good Championship side.
Having said that, Leeds could have taken the lead as early as the sixth minute when a header from a corner beat Amos only for Berbatov to block it on the line followed by a scramble in the box to clear the ball. Nine minutes later and Owen, making his first start since January, grabbed the opener after great work from Berbatov and Park Ji-Sung gave him the chance to create space in the box. England’s forgotten man scuffed his shot but he scuffed it in the right direction. On 32 minutes he was at it again with a far more emphatic effort. Mame Biram Diouf charged down the right and spotted Owen on the edge of the area who unleashed a vicious shot that gave Andy Lonergan no chance. Lonergan was picking the ball out of his net on the stroke of half time after Giggs grabbed the third. He played a short corner to Park and won it back before hitting a sweet shot with the outside of his left foot.
Such is the culture of success Ferguson has built in the last 25 years even victory in a competition lowest on their list of priorities comes regularly; he has seen his side lift the League Cup three times in the past six seasons. With a squad this strong, don’t bet against it happening again.
Leeds United (4-4-2): Lonergan; Lees, Bromby, O'Dea, White; Snodgrass, Howson, Clayton, McCormack (Nunez 66); Keogh (Forssell 52), Becchio (Vayrynen 52).
Manchester United (4-4-2): Amos; Valencia, Fryers, Carrick, Fabio; Giggs (Pogba 45), Park, Macheda (Cole 77), Diouf (Welbeck 70); Owen, Berbatov
Did you know… Bobby Charlton has the most appearances for Manchester United against Leeds. His brother Jack shares the most appearances for Leeds against Manchester United, along with Paul Reaney.
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