LEEDS manager Simon Grayson admitted his side were taught a lesson by Manchester United last night.
The West Yorkshire outfit approached their Carling Cup |third-round tie at Elland Road with high hopes of repeating their 2010 FA Cup triumph over United.
Instead, the contest was over by half-time as the visitors raced into a 3-0 lead which they defended until the end.
“People don’t see how hard Manchester United work and how powerful they are,” said Grayson. “They are playing at the top level because they have that fantastic desire to do it every week.
“The team they put out could have beaten a host of Premier League sides.
“They caused us a lot of problems and it shows the gulf that is between us.”
It says a lot about the champions’ present strength in depth that strike pairing Michael Owen and Dimitar Berbatov were making their first starts of the season last night.
Indeed, Owen had not contributed a single kick to the Red Devils’ impressive start to the campaign.
However, he soon made up for that, scoring twice to take his current tally to 11 goals in 12 starts – a run that goes back to October 2009, underlining the problems he has had just getting a game. “I am still only 31 and I have a good few years left in me yet,” said Owen. “The pressure is on when you get into this side because you don’t get many chances.
“When you get picked you have to perform or you won’t see the pitch for another couple of months.”
Ryan Giggs completed the demolition with his second goal in a week as a team older than the one which started against Chelsea on Sunday cruised into the last 16.
Even in the absence of Javier Hernandez, who escaped serious injury in Ashley Cole’s X-rated tackle at Old Trafford on Sunday but is ruled out of the weekend trip to Stoke, Owen will not expect to keep his place.
On a night when Danny Welbeck returned from a hamstring injury and last season’s Golden Boot winner Berbatov ended up at centre-half, manager Alex Ferguson outlined his dilemma. “Michael Owen’s finishing was fantastic,” said the Scot.
“His goal ratio is unbelievable. |We are very pleased with him.
“He has had one or two injuries |but with me having Wayne Rooney, Dimitar Berbatov and Javier Hernandez he is not getting the games he deserves and that is unfortunate.”