The best thing about the FA cup is the David and Goliath matchups, this is as big a gap as you can get, there are some 100 places between them in the league system.
Crawley town has a population of some 85,000 and most could fit in Old Trafford with 76,000 capacity. Crawley has existed since Roman times when it was an iron smelting town, and nothing has much happened in those 2,000 years.
Then the FA cup happens and the biggest team hosts the smallest team, the rules say the clubs have to share the gate money so Crawley are in for a multi-million dollar payday.
Crawley was founded as a team in 1896 and funny enough are also known as “The Red Devils” although nothing short of demonic intervention will save them. But this is the FA Cup, anything can happen, right? Wrong, not today, in this age of a wealth gap.
What we will see is a great game, the underdog will defend doggedly, then get the odd chance, maybe a goal, then the inevitable and finally the hunting for autographs by the star-struck non-league players. Man U will have to respect the opposition, these low-ranked teams often surprise you if you are not careful.
The treble is still on for Manchester United, with the Champion’s League coming next week they will not risk major players. Crawley players will want to face the best but you can expect the likes of Kuszack, Evans, Fabio, O’Shea, Smalling, Gibson, Obertan, Carrick, Chicharlito, Owen, Bebe but that will still be good for the away fans.
Live footing of behind the scenes often shows these low-ranked teams amazed by the facilities, to see hot water in the showers etc. It should be a matter of time before United score but as ever I will root for the little guy to do well.
Sir Alex Ferguson and his wily charms should be good enough to unlock Crawley, but expect them to assume the tortoise formation where they dig in and defend for their lives.
The customary 4-5-1 or 8-1-1 to stifle Man U, expect some nasty tackles, in the non-league game anything goes, plus every player wants to tackle a big-name player.
In corners and freekicks the odds are even for the teams, so Crawley will have to hope for headers from long balls because they cannot match Manchester United on the floor. Goliath is the favourite in this, Crawley will remember this day but they can’t win.