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Southend 1-0 Man Utd

United’s schizophrenic season took another unpredictable twist at Roots Hall when the team managed to get dumped out of the Carling Cup by a team bottom of the Championship. An embarrassing night for Reds everywhere, especially considering the team that the manager put out.

A large group of us met at Liverpool Street station and headed south east to the Kent coast after work. On arrival it was impressive to see how many Reds had travelled down to the game from up north seeing as it was on television, midweek, and £30. As many newspapers pointed out this morning, this was not a game for the prawn sandwich brigade, and it made for a great atmosphere. Despite the team playing terrible football, failing to score and being a goal behind for most of the match, it was a better atmosphere than pretty much all home games that we win with ease and style. People often try to blame the team for a bad atmosphere, but this proved those people wrong.

On the pitch there was not much to write home about. Some of United’s primadonnas, namely O’Shea and Richardson, were outplayed and outclassed by a bunch of Championship strugglers who thoroughly deserved their victory. The home side played better football, passed the ball about more, won most balls in the air and did themselves proud. United stuck Rooney and Ronaldo up front with little service from the midfield and, along with a terrible referee, it just did not go to plan. Yes the Southend keeper made some great saves, but overall United did not do enough to feel aggrieved by the score. Other Reds, such as Heinze and Smith, simply did not look fit and cannot be blamed for their lack of influence.

The final whistle sounded and the home fans celebrated like they had won the World Cup. And fair play to them, they deserved it. United supporters clapped the home team off the pitch, a gesture that will no doubt be overlooked by every journalist in the country, and then sulked their way out of the ground. It is a long journey home after a defeat like that, with plenty of time to consider the stick that would come at work the next day.

The problem with United this season is simple. We have a great first eleven, but no depth at all. Injuries against Arsenal and rested players against Crewe, Reading and Southend all resulted in failing to win. The likes of O’Shea or Richardson simply cannot lead a midfield with younger players around them, nor are they good enough to fill the boots of Scholes or Giggs when they are injured or rested. This is the repercussions of the takeover kicking in, as the squad gets ever shortened, but the masses will not see the wood for the trees when we sit top of the league.

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