By Larry Taylor (@larrytee0)
Louis Van Gaal; dour football; underwhelming results; unhappy players – today, that does not matter. There are various questions surrounding the future of Old Trafford but Jesse Lingard gave the Red Devils’ a taste of the past as the Salford-born forward struck a wonder goal in extra time to win Manchester United the FA Cup.
The first half was a dour affair. Manchester United controlled majority of the possession and looked the more energetic of the two sides, however, conjectured little. Palace also had some moments, most notably through winger Wilfred Zaha when Daley Blind lost possession, only to be spared his blushes by Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney winning the ball back.
The second half presented much of the same and was in much need of change, which unfortunately for United, came in the form of Jason Puncheon who opened the scoring in the 78th minute, putting Palace in the lead. United needed to respond quickly and up stood Wayne Rooney.
The 30 year-old has had his critics but the striker-come-midfielder surged through midfield with precise dribbling and crossed the ball into the box, Juan Mata the beneficiary as United drew level.
Extra-time had both fans on edge and the players portrayed the same. The game looked certain to go to penalties; however, the game took a turn when Chris Smalling foolishly committed another foul and received his marching orders after a second yellow card.
The United we have come to see his season would have sat back, and played for penalties. Common sense, if anything, would suggest anything but would be a risk; a word not associated with Van Gaal’s ‘philosophy’.
Up stands Jesse Lingard. Antonio Valencia pushes forward, delivers a cross and the academy product hits the ball on the half volley and wins the game for Manchester United. It was a fitting finish that a Manchester United local had the decisive say in the result, providing fans with some hope for the future.
The F.A Cup is a wonderful achievement for Manchester United, their first since 2004, and more significantly, the first trophy since Sir Alex Ferguson retired after 26 years in charge. The win however, does not take away from what has been a disappointing season. Louis Van Gaal under-achieved this season and seems certain to lose his job, with Jose Mourinho lurking in the shadows.
But today, that does not matter. This season, United have barely dared to play football, But Lingard’s heroics provided fans with some hope going into the future. You can take the boy out of Manchester, but you cannot take the Manchester out of the boy.
Your Aussie Correspondent,
Larry – The United Stand