Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

SPOILSPORTS STRIKE AGAIN ; They May Have Flattered to Deceive Again but Reds Were Party- Poopers Once More to Dump Another Lower-League Team out of the FA Cup

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

SPOILSPORTS STRIKE AGAIN ; They May Have Flattered to Deceive Again but Reds Were Party- Poopers Once More to Dump Another Lower-League Team out of the FA Cup

Article excerpt

UNITED continued their FA Cup run - but couldn't resist throwing in a bit of drama.

There was a brief story line in keeping with this season's enthralling competition when Preston threatened Louis van Gaal's last realistic hope of silverware in his first campaign in charge at Old Trafford by taking a shock lead.

But, ultimately, the Reds discovered enough toplevel power to overcome Simon Grayson's side.

United have done their utmost to shatter this year's FA Cup story, which has been crammed with giant-killing tales in every chapter.

In a campaign of transition, mixed with growing unrest, the Reds have been a one-team wrecking ball.

Romance of the Cup? United have shown a total disregard for that nationwide love affair with the celebrated trophy.

The TV cameras decamped at Yeovil's Huish Park for the third round and the armchair audience desperate to see a big scalp claimed were left disappointed.

The small screen pundits, the temporary studios and all the sophisticated gadgets were then installed at the Abbey Stadium for the Friday night fourth round tie. But on the eve of Seismic Saturday - when illustrious scalps were claimed - United survived their trial by TV at Cambridge.

Onto Old Trafford for the replay and the League Two minnows had their day out, big pay out but ended up being knocked out.

Once again the length and breadth of the country were largely frustrated as the Reds avoided the ignominy of a David slaying a Goliath.

The velvet bag at the FA had more banana skins for Van Gaal, more Death or the Gladioli as the Dutchman was fond of repeating, and Preston became the next hurdle.

It hasn't been a pretty road, it hasn't been a glory route and the box office Reds have not been the victims many have tuned in to gloat over, nor have they been value for money for those who've switched on and sat on the sofa to be entertained.

But United have been dogged, if not much else. And sometimes that can be enough to get you where you want to ultimately be.

The atmosphere inside a revamped Deepdale was cranked up immeasurably when the quarter-final draw was shown on the big screen before the game and the winners of the tie knew they'd been handed a cracking home tie against Arsenal.

In fairness, it was the Preston crowd who greeted the draw with far more enthusiasm, knowing another bumper gate would be their prize if only they could get rid of the Reds.

LVG is not the kind of manager to bow to pressure from the populace but his selection for the tie smacked of listening to the debates that have been raging around his firstteam choices.

to Finally Wayne Rooney was released from his midfield duties and the rarely-used Ander Herrera got the nod to give his fans what they've been wishing for.

Van Gaal's reward? Well, he'd warned that if United played as badly as they did against Burnley in the Premier League last week then they'd be another big-name casualty. …

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