It has taken a bit of stick in the past due to clubs clearly prioritising other competitions but for me, following the Carling Cup as a commentator over the last four years has been anything but dull. Well, apart from the opening 45 minutes on Tuesday night that is!
Paddy Crerand and I nearly fell asleep on the MUTV gantry in the first half. The two sides tried and tried to get the game going but with few chances created and a ghostly silence from the stands, we feared the worst when the teams came out after the break to do it all over again. But straight from the restart, we had a game on and both sides probed and pressurised throughout an enthralling second period.
I was pleased to see Bebe get a goal on his full debut. He’s had a tough introduction to life at United with plenty of unfair criticism coming his way from various quarters. He might get a bit more for his celebration (!) but his goal showed great positivity and a rugged desire to attack his marker - vital attributes for a United winger. After the game, Chris Smalling told me how impressive Bebe has been in training and how he’s fitted into life at Carrington really quickly.
I must say that Javier Hernandez deserves great praise too. He’s a charming young man who has his feet firmly on the ground and is already showing English football what he can do. Give him a chance with his feet, the back of his head or even his face and he’ll tuck it away. He almost scored with his backside against Stoke too. They say fortune favours the brave, and it also helps out those who are just plain nice. Four goals in his last four games and six in 11 United competitive appearances. That’s not the record of someone who is going to struggle here at Old Trafford. He even sent Paddy the wrong way with his dummy for the winner on Tuesday!