London: Their Premier League title defence in tatters, Manchester United approach the second leg of their League Cup semi-final against Sunderland on Wednesday conscious that it could define their domestic season.
Lost for words: Michael Carrick (left) Danny Welbeck (centre) and Adnan Januzaj of Manchester United against Chelsea on Sunday. Pic/Getty Images
Sunday’s 3-1 loss at Chelsea left David Moyes’ side 14 points off the pace in the league and having been knocked out of the FA Cup by Swansea City, United need success in the League Cup like never before.
It is a competition that United occasionally treated with disdain under Moyes' predecessor, Alex Ferguson, but the new manager knows that he cannot afford to pick and choose when the club’s fans are in the doldrums.
“We will try and do everything we can to get through,” Moyes told United’s in-house television channel, MUTV. “I want to give the supporters something to cheer about. There has not been an awful lot. I am fully aware of that.”
However, in order to book a likely final date with Manchester City, who lead 6-0 at the halfway stage of their last-four tie against West Ham United, Moyes' men must overturn a 2-1 deficit from the first leg.
Including that result at the Stadium of Light on January 7, United have lost four of their five games to date in 2014, and midfielder Michael Carrick says that the players are desperate to get back to winning ways. “We want to play again as quickly as possible,” he said.
“Wednesday is another big game. It is a huge game for us. It is an opportunity to get to a final. You can’t take that lightly. “We will get over this (losing to Chelsea), dust ourselves down, and be ready again for Wednesday.”
Urging the club’s supporters not to desert the team, the England midfielder added: “The fans have been unbelievable, over the last month or so. “Times have been difficult. Performances have not been that bad actually, but results have been pretty awful for us to take. “We are giving everything at the minute. It is just not going our way. If we all stick together, I am sure it will turn soon.”
Moyes will be obliged to make changes to his back four for the visit of Gus Poyet’s side, with Patrice Evra a doubt after hobbling off early in the second half and Nemanja Vidic suspended after being sent off at Chelsea.
Vidic’s three-game ban for a red card he got last week was upheld yesterday The game will also come too soon for strikers Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie, who were expected back in training this week.
Sunderland striker Steven Fletcher is a doubt for the trip to Old Trafford as he nurses an Achilles injury. The 26-year-old Scot played for 18 minutes against Southampton.