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Alex Ferguson and David O’Leary both have reason to rue their sides’ dismal cup performance
Tony Cascarino, 14 Jan 2005
While I’m not an Anyone- But- United man, I really wanted Exeter to beat the club that, more than any other, has devalued the FA Cup as a competition in recent seasons. I can understand Fergie seeing it as a chance to rest his big guns, but by not giving the Conference side the respect they deserve he’s added another game to what’s already a very hectic month of fixtures for Man U.
Weakened team or not, the 14 Manchester United players who figured on Saturday had at least a couple of hundred international caps between them, and should have seen off a team that’s four divisions beneath them. Bearing in mind the thrashing the Arsenal youngsters gave a full-strength Everton in the League Cup, it shows just how threadbare the United squad is at the moment. Compare the likes of Djemba-Djemba, Bellion and Miller to the signings Wenger and Mourinho have made and you have to say that Sir Alex has lost the Midas touch he had in the transfer market.
It was a bad weekend too for David O’Leary who had plenty of excuses for Aston Villa losing to Sheffield United, but none that really stand up to scrutiny. I played with David for the Republic Of Ireland, and he’s the most insincere man I’ve ever met. He’s lucky that the Villa fans hate Doug Ellis so much or he’d be the one getting a barracking from the terraces at the moment. David O’Leary is incapable of holding his hands up and saying, “It’s my fault!” He always manages to shove the blame onto somebody else, like when he brought Brian Kidd in to help with the coaching and then, a couple of weeks later, said that things weren’t being done right on the training ground. In other words, don’t blame me, blame Brian Kidd even though he did an absolutely brilliant job in coaching Manchester United to some of the biggest successes they’ve ever had. He hasn’t had much money at Villa, true, but a side that’s got Sorensen, Solano, Hendrie, Angel and Carlton Cole in it shouldn’t be losing 3-0 at home to their archrivals Birmingham City. It was very telling for me that James Beattie took one look at the Villa Park set-up and said: “Thanks, but I think I’ll go to Everton!” He didn’t want to play for David O’Leary, which makes you wonder just who they are going to get during the transfer window.