Former Manchester United manager Tommy Docherty once famously said that “If your name is on the Cup, nobody can take it away from you” and how right he was! While there are 37 other games to recover from a bad decision or an unfortunate incident in the Premier League, once a Cup game is lost, there is no opportunity for a comeback. The Champions League draw could have been worse for United as an always difficult, long trip to the Ukraine has been avoided as have Spanish giants Barcelona and Real Madrid until at least the Wembley Final. But the task of getting there will by no means be a walk in the park.
The first leg at Stamford Bridge will be preceded by a trip to West Ham on Saturday and followed by the visit of Fulham. Chelsea will then come to Old Trafford in midweek for the second leg before United’s FA Cup semi final clash with Manchester City at Wembley. Title challengers Arsenal and City meanwhile will have no other commitments apart from their weekend league fixtures. It’s the reason why I would have much preferred them to progress further in Europe.
Quarter Final draw
Chelsea v Manchester United – Away April 5/6, Home April 12/13
Real Madrid v Tottenham
Barcelona v Shakhtar Donetsk
Inter Milan v Schalke
Should United get past the Chelsea hurdle, the days leading up to the Euro semi final will be just as difficult. A trip to either Italy or Germany follows a few days after the home game against Everton and followed by what is shaping up to be a possible title decider at Arsenal who will again have an uninterrupted week to prepare. The Champions League home second leg is then scheduled for the following Tuesday or Wednesday before Chelsea returns to Old Trafford for another title crunch match.
Semi Final draw
Inter or Schalke v Chelsea or Man United – Away April 26/27, Home May 3/4
Real Madrid or Tottenham v Barcelona or Shakhtar
That’s a hell of a schedule in which fatigue is likely to set in resulting in possible further injuries. It’s going to be a hell of a ride for Manchester United fans but then again it comes with the territory. It’s precisely the reason why they would never even think of supporting anyone else.
Is the United squad strong enough to overcome such a schedule?