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Man United desperate to get back on track against struggling Sunderland

| 07.01.2014

As I heard somebody say to a down-in-the-mouth Manchester United fan on Sunday evening after they had been knocked out of the FA Cup: “you want to to try supporting Sunderland!”

A crisis at Old Trafford? Well, it’s all relative, isn’t it. Yes, things aren’t going as smoothly as Reds’ fans are used to, but they are in a hell of a lot healthier position than the Black Cats, down at the bottom of the Premier League and staring relegation in the face.

In the circumstances, getting through to the final of the Capital One Cup is much more vital for United (1/5 with Coral) than it is for Sunderland (100/30) and by that I mean vital for the clubs, not the supporters, who would all like to see their team striding out at Wembley on March 2nd.

This competition is probably the only realistic opportunity United have of silverware this season after falling so far behind in the Premiership and getting knocked out of the FA Cup. They are still in the Champions League, of course, but , on current form, who could feel confident about their chances if and when they come up against one of the European giants later in the tournament (and that’s assuming they get past Olympiakos in the Round of 16)?

Sunderland, on the other hand, could be excused for seeing the Capital One Cup as a distraction from what really matters – staying in the Premier League. Manager Gus Poyet has said that he wants his players to go for it and enjoy the experience, but if you asked him, or almost anyone connected with the Wearsiders for that matter, to choose between a Wembley final appearance and Premiership survival, there would be only one answer.

Still, if there is a good time to be playing United, it is now and I expect a close encounter in the first leg at the Stadium of Light on Tuesday night.

David Moyes will surely put out a stronger team than the one beaten by Swansea on Sunday and that will include the return of Wayne Rooney (evens to score, 4/1 first or last) if he has recovered from his groin injury.

But Sunderland will definitely be up for it, especially the ex-Reds John O’Shea, Phil Bardsley and Wes Brown, all 12/1 to get on the scoresheet against their old team mates.

Coral go 8/11 United, 4/1 Sunderland and 5/2 the draw, but whichever way it goes, I expect the tie to still be alive when they play the second leg later this month.




Jon Freeman