Manchester United midfielder Darren Fletcher says the team owe their supporters a huge response following their FA Cup defeat to Swansea City on Sunday and have the perfect opportunity to make amends against Sunderland in the League Cup.
The Premier League champions lost 2-1 at home to exit the FA Cup at the first hurdle for only the fourth time in 34 years with Swansea winning at Old Trafford for the first time and inflicting United’s fourth home defeat in six matches.
United now travel to Sunderland on Tuesday for the first leg of their Capital One Cup semi-final with a place at Wembley awaiting the eventual winners, and Fletcher told United’s television channel MUTV that the players needed to respond.
“It’s a League Cup semi-final, if you can’t lift yourself for that then it’s no good,” he said. “We have got a great opportunity, we are away to Sunderland and we’ve got to recover quickly and lift ourselves. It’s a massive game now.”
The Scottish international, back in the side after a long illness, praised the attitude of United’s fans saying: “They’re really sticking by us and that’s great to see – we’ve got to repay that.
“When we got to the Stretford End, there were a lot of fans clapping and singing for United. The players have got to see that and know that the fans are behind us and put performances in for the them, the manager and the staff.
“It’s got to happen sooner rather than later and there’s no better occasion than the semi-final on Tuesday.”
United have stuttered for most of the campaign under David Moyes, who took over from Alex Ferguson after he retired at the end of last season, and Monday’s newspapers made gloomy reading for the club and its fans with the Daily Telegraph headline reading “Crumbling Empire”.
The Times said that Moyes’ “problem gets bigger as United sink lower” with the manager himself saying his squad did need strengthening, although he thought they were the better side against Swansea and unlucky to lose.