United in the nick of time

January 28, 2010

SOCCER-ENGLAND/CUPNot for the first time this season, Manchester United stunned Manchester City in injury-time and clawed out a win that took them through to next month’s League Cup final against Aston Villa, while making a point to their ambitious neighbours.

Wayne Rooney’s late header was also a reminder that for all the weaknesses of this particular team, even with Cristiano Ronaldo gone to Real Madrid and Carlos Tevez off to Eastlands, United retain an uncanny ability to swing games their way in the face of adversity. Against the odds, they are somehow still on course for a treble.

Reaching this final will certainly have boosted their confidence, but defensive frailties — still everywhere to be seen even after Rio Ferdinand’s return to action — must worry United’s manager worry Alex Ferguson ahead of their Champions League last 16 clash with AC Milan.

On current form, Chelsea must be favourites to win the Premier League although United have a history of turning things round after Christmas, most memorably in 1999 when they capped a triumphant season with that 2-1 win over Bayern Munich in the Champions League final.

But as my colleague Martyn Herman said, Rooney is carrying United at the moment with a punishing workload and if Ferguson’s team are to cover themselves in glory again, someone will need to step up in the run-in.

PHOTO: Manchester United’s Michael Carrick (C) celebrates with team mates after scoring against Manchester City during their League Cup win in Manchester, Jan. 27, 2010. REUTERS/Phil Noble

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