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What We Learned: Poor referees, lack of creativity and tactics see FA Cup run end

Manchester United were knocked out of the Emirates FA Cup at the hands of Chelsea at Stamford Bridge after N’Golo Kante scored the only goal of the match, despite Marcus Rashford having a say in getting United back into the match with a goal of their own. United could have found glory tonight has Ander Herrera not seen red, which has left him with something to prove, despite the fact the referee was harsh in the second yellow being given. The pin has been on the board with Herrera for a while, once booked, he has looked almost certain to get another booking, not that the defeat is his fault, the defeat was more tactical than anything else, opening up United’s season for something to be achieved, which needs to be UEFA Champions League football next season.

Referees are poorer than poor

United have been dogged by poor decisions and referees not doing their jobs properly for the last few seasons. Other clubs have suffered too. Against Chelsea, Ander Herrera was booked for a challenge worth of a booking, then sent of for a second booking which was a harsh yellow card. Eden Hazard clearly dived, as he does much of the time, yet is given the benefit of the doubt by referees, with the offending player booked, cautioned or even sent off, as we saw tonight. Michael Oliver, despite being one of the better referees this season, although looking back it is not hard to be in that position, let United down by turning a balanced game into an edge of the knife match for United. When will the Football Association look at the standard of refereeing? In years to come, there will be some big problems in the game if this is not addressed.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan

The Armenian cannot be blamed for being angry with his substitution if he was indeed unhappy. The most creative player on the pitch having to come off 37 minutes into a match whereby he could have been the provider or even goalscorer. The fact that Ander Herrera saw himself get sent off was by the by, but seeing United play with just one attacking player; Marcus Rashford, was poor. Ashley Young and others did try and support Rashford, but Chelsea had them pinned into their own area. United did well to combat what Chelsea threw at them, but it just was not enough. Perhaps it was all tactics by Mourinho to get out of the competition in order to salvage something from the season.

Marcus Rashford

A year into Marcus Rashford’s first team career at United and he has gome from strength to strength. His debut in both the Europa League and the Premier League were moments of magic for him. Playing as the striker for United, despite having the only other attacking player substituted after the red card for Herrera, he maintained his ability in trying to get the better for United, despite how short the odds were. The ability Rashford showed on the ball after David Luiz made a fatal judgement, then running around Gary Cahill and launching a shot towards goal, only to be thwarted by Thibault Courtois. It was sublime and unfortunate he did not get United back into the game.

Conclusion

Manchester United and Jose Mourinho can now put something into plan for the remainder of the season. United still have two Premier League matches to rearrange, now the option of another to be rearranged will not happen, meaning the remainder of the season will fall as planned. Gaining ground on the five teams above United will be what is needed, winning Premier League matches, as opposed to drawing is what really is needed to do that. United have been gifted chances to rise their position many times before, the squad not really taking any of the chances thus far. United are running out of time to earn their plaudits this season, but in terms of effort to be played, there is plenty of that from most of the squad. United have a tough match against Rostov at Old Trafford on Thursday, then travel to Middlesbrough in the league at the weekend. After the international break, winning, winning, winning is all United need to be doing.

Written by Mike Wilson

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