It was not what a full house at Old Trafford was wanting last Saturday, but did not come as a big suprise to anybody inside or outside THE THEATRE OF DREAMS who had come to expect this under achieving season in the Barclays Premier League. Boos were heard all round this most historic of venues from half time or even earlier.
You cannot say that the season is in tatters, with the Reds currently in 5th place, but a top four finish is THE LEAST that the millions of fans world wide will expect, and Louis van Gaal is walking a tightrope, and may walk before he is pushed by the owners in Tampa, Florida.
The evening before I had been at nearby Altrincham FC 's J Davidson Stadium at Moss Lane, a short Metrolink tram ride from Piccadilly Gardens via Old Trafford. The occasion was the FA Youth Cup 4th round between United and Chelsea for under 18s. The blues are flying high in their development League and the winners on the night were to play away to AFC Wimbledon in the 5th round.
The positives was that ENTRY WAS FREE. Alty are the winners, having received a fee from Old Trafford to open the gates, man them and turn the lights on. They also have a marvelous new event pavilion which overlooks the pitch and they that did a roaring trade with the thirsty fans. I sat at the end of the second row in the main stand, across the aisle from Mrs LVG and her husband the first team boss Louis. Behind was his assistant Ryan Giggs and others from the club hierachy. Little boys lined up pre kick-off for 'selfies' with the Dutchman.
Chelsea are the defending cup champions and had beaten Huddersfield Town in the 3rd round and also are leading the youth league at this time of the season. The skill and entertainment level was high from both teams but the visitors scored first in the 19th minute. Tammy Abrahams rose high to head home but gk Oliver Byrne made a point blank save, only for Iko Ugbo to nod in the rebound. Coach Joe Edwards had made 3 changes from the last tie and had a very strong squad to choose from. As we made our way to the bar the Blues doubled the lead from Tammy Abraham in added time to make it 2-0 at the half.
After the interval United scored what turned out to be their only goal, from Charlie Scott past Nathan Baxter from the edge of the box. 60 seconds later Mason Mount, a small lad with loads of skill, who had assisted on the 2nd goal, scored his sides third goal. From that point there was only going to be one winner. Jay DaSilva and Mukhtar Ali made it a five star performance for the West Londoners. The spare United coaches, who had to sit in front of me in the main stand, had a dozen spare balti meat pies that they were passing around to fans.
On the tram back to Piccadilly it was an entertaining 20 minutes with a bunch of United Dutch fans and a couple of young fans from Norway who were all in town for the next afternoon's EPL match at the Theatre of Dreams. It featured a couple of Dutch bosses, LVG and Southampton's Ronald Koeman.. Probably dreaming of an entertaining afternoon at Old Trafford. HOW BAD THAT DREAM TURNED OUT TO BE !
Incredibly, way down in South Wales less than 16 hours after their 5 star triumph in the North West, Chelsea's youth team were playing a league match at Swansea City's new £6 million new youth complex. Unbeaten in 13 matches the young Blues stretched their Youth Premier League lead to 6 points. Richard Nardis made it 1-0 after 21 minutes before Brandon Griffiths tied it at 1-1 for the final result.
Not a bad weekend and promising future for Chelsea's youngsters..