Wednesday 13 December 2017

Giggs lays it on the line for United's young guns

Duncan Bech

Ryan Giggs has warned Manchester United's Carling Cup rookies that they must show greater backbone if they are to succeed at Old Trafford after Alex Ferguson's men suffered their worst defeat in nine years at Upton Park on Tuesday night.

Holders United surrendered their place in the competition with a 4-0 quarter-final in their first loss of the season.

A young side containing players such as Bebe, Chris Smalling and Javier Hernandez was swept aside as the Hammers defied arctic conditions at Upton Park to produce a sizzling display.

Home fans stayed behind to take photos of the scoreboard and even though it was a callow United side, Ferguson will have found the experience hard to accept.

Giggs, one of the few senior players in action after Ferguson left most of his senior players behind, concedes that United wilted after West Ham's 22nd-minute opener and again in the second half.

The Welsh winger believes they had the fight knocked out of them far too easily.


"Maybe heads can drop and the first goal came at a good time for West Ham," said Giggs. "We started the second half really well, but they scored from their first attack and maybe heads dropped.

"But you are at Manchester United and you need to rise above that. You still need to carry on playing your football and not let your heads drop."

Giggs admits United paid the price for some feeble defending that saw Jonathan Spector score the first goals of his six seasons in English football against his former club.

"It was disappointing to lose 4-0. We were confident that we could win the game and it was not to be," said Giggs. "West Ham played well and you need to give some credit to them as they scored some good goals.

"But we feel that we could have defended the goals a lot better and it could all have been different had the first shot from Gabriel Obertan gone in.

"We started the game pretty well but Gabriel's effort did not fall for us.

"Instead it hit the post and they scored quickly after that.

"That probably knocked the stuffing out of us. Like I say, we could have done better for the goals."

It was the first time West Ham had avoided defeat by United in three years and Giggs insists Upton Park is traditionally a problematic destination for the Red Devils.

"I know from first-hand experience whenever we've come here, no matter how West Ham are doing, it's always a tough game," he said.

"They always want to beat us and the crowd really get behind the team."

Viv Anderson offered a more damning verdict on United's fledgling stars who blew their chance to shine.

"I don't think they are quite up to the task everyone thinks they are," said the former United and England full-back.

"We changed the whole back five, including the goalkeeper and that is a bit of an ask.

"It has backfired on him (Ferguson) you could see that in his face. He is going to have to really think about the younger lads - they cannot match up to the expectations of this club

"It was a bit of false dawn we went to Rangers and got a clean sheet. That night the system suited us.

"They had only Kenny Miller up front. West Ham played with two up and that was difficult for us. We conceded some shocking goals. It was a hard night and a learning curve for these young lads. It was a bad day especially for the back four."

Another former United star, Lou Macari, joined in the criticism of the team.

He said: "They were given an opportunity...'Show us what you are made of, show us what you've got, this is going to be fast and furious'.

"It was not going to be like Rangers where we were attacking all the time. This was West Ham, who were desperate to get into the next round. They have let him (Ferguson) down."

United went into the match on the back of 7-1 victory against Blackburn with Dimitar Berbatov scoring five goals. Blackpool are next up on Saturday.

Macari was keen to see an unchanged side against West Ham.

"I want to see a winning team," he added. "But football is going in a different direction where we read and talk all the time about players getting tired.

"If the ones who had all played on Saturday had played again do not think they would not have been able to play against Blackpool? They would be itching to play.

"Berbatov scored five goals and would have been on all-time high. If he played again scored another couple there would have been more pats on the back. I am not a great believer in chopping and changing."

For Avram Grant, victory not only bought himself more time but has the club dreaming of a rare trip to Wembley.

It is difficult to assess Wally Downes's impact as defensive coach in little over a week, but it is clear that the defenders have been asked to eliminate risk. Spector, the American defender, gained his reward for training in midfield with two goals against United and is hoping to go a step further.

"Of course Wembley is in the back of your mind," Spector said. "I've only ever seen an NFL game there so it would be fantastic to play there."

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