Manchester United’s defence of the FA Cup gets underway this weekend, with a clash at Old Trafford as former United man Jaap Stam and his Reading side visit the Theatre of Dreams. The Royals are having a terrific season and currently sit third in the Championship, a difficult test for United to overcome with a big game against Liverpool coming up too. Midfield maestro Ander Herrera wants United to get off to a positive start in the competition and says United should be competing for every trophy they are in, which is true. United’s rich history is all about silverware.
From the Busby Babes to FA Cup victories under Ron Atkinson, to domestic domination under Sir Alex Ferguson, United have always been about winning trophies. The Spaniard understands the importance of Saturday’s fixture and says that Reading should not be underestimated. The official Manchester United website reports;
“I have already played against Championship teams at home. Middlesbrough beat us [in the EFL Cup] last season, for example, so we have to respect Reading. It’s a big day for them, they come with, to be honest, nothing to lose and that makes them even more dangerous.
“But, we are United, we have to fight for every trophy and at home against Reading we have the obligation to try to win, to score goals and to get to the next round. They are a strong team and are high in the table so it will be difficult, but it’s a big tournament for us and we want to get to the next round.
“Jaap Stam was an important player for this club and now he manages Reading so he will know how to motivate his players, which means they will be dangerous.”
Herrera has admitted his love for the FA Cup numerous times since joining the club in 2014, and says that the victory over Crystal Palace last May at Wembley will remain unforgettable;
“It’s a fantastic trophy and fantastic tournament. I will never forget winning it because it was my first trophy with United at Wembley. It was a fantastic day for us, we scored in the last five or 10 minutes, Jesse [Lingard] scored a fantastic goal, we had 10 men… it was a special day.
“When you think about the way you want to win then of course you want to win earlier and be more relaxed at the end, but the feeling after the game when you score in the last few minutes is fantastic, especially with 10 men against a good side.”
I think it is important for United to rest a few key players with a massive game against Liverpool coming up, which could potentially make-or-break United’s season. The team has done remarkably well after a slow start and have crawled their way back into this battle for the top four. Liverpool are chasing Chelsea at the moment, and if United can get all three points against Liverpool then they could get dragged into this battle for Champions League football.
Players such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic and possibly David De Gea and Paul Pogba should be rested in my opinion. Those three, along with Ander Herrera and Carrick have been key to United’s brilliant run of form of late. The squad has enough quality to get the job done against Reading, whilst being able to keep key players fit and give them a rest. It will be interesting to see how Jose Mourinho approaches this one.