Manchester United narrowly avoided defeat and embarrassment in the Carabao Cup third round at home to Rochdale last week. They won on penalties after goals from Mason Greenwood and 16-year-old Luke Matheson. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side live to fight another day, but they face a tougher test on paper away at Frank Lampard’s Chelsea.
But the fact they progressed didn’t stop them yet again being the target of jokes. Supporters of rivals couldn’t resist a laugh, but even lower league teams have been getting in on the act. After they beat Rochdale 3-0 in League One at the weekend, Wycombe Wanderers took aim at United, tagging them in a tweet in which they claimed the result made them the better side. Solskjaer would likely point out that a number of his key men weren’t involved in the game at Old Trafford, including Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford. Paul Pogba did return from injury during the game, but has since been ruled out of Monday’s Premier League clash with Arsenal.
It was a great evening for Matheson, who netted at Old Trafford in what he called a “dream come true”. The teenager has really impressed at Rochdale but his stock has risen even more ever since that goal. Still doing his A-levels, he returned to school the day after, but unfortunately he was unable to make the same impact in the league on Saturday. He was an unused substitute as second placed Wycombe ran riot, bringing everyone firmly back down to earth.
As for United, the only way they can move on is by winning games. The pressure is growing on Solskjaer even from fans who love him, and victory over Arsenal is vital to easing it. Chelsea are also to come, but they must improve on the showing against Rochdale is they are to achieve anything.