If the intention was to reassure supporters that the future at Old Trafford is bright, it was not very convincing.
A fortuitous 1-0 win over Crawley Town had just offered another worrying example of Sir Alex Ferguson's supporting cast letting him down on the big stage. Just as they did in a chastening 4-0 Carling Cup defeat at West Ham in November, Ferguson's fringe players got their chance and blew it.
Narrow escape: Man United's second string struggled to overcome non-league Crawley Town
It remains to be seen if they will be given another in the next round. The United boss is committed to promoting from the youth ranks because he insists there is no value in the current transfer market.
On this evidence, the combined ?10million he has spent on Bebe and Gabriel Obertan is proof of that. They were not the only culprits, however, and even Ferguson's patience must be wearing thin after the weaknesses in his squad were laid bare once again.
Asked what his young players had learned from the game, he replied: 'Me losing my temper! It was a terrible performance by us in the second half.'
Crawley might be superior to Exeter City and Burton Albion - who have both taken United to a replay in recent years - but the fact that he is not facing a trip to West Sussex will be little consolation to Ferguson.
Roo are you? Crawley's David Hunt proudly wears the shirt given to him by Wayne Rooney
The underdogs from the Blue Square Bet Premier League not only held out comfortably either side of Wes Brown's winner in the 28th minute, they took the game to the Premier League leaders and created the better chances even before Richard Brodie's header hit the bar in stoppage time.
Ferguson had brought on Wayne Rooney, Chris Smalling and Darren Fletcher by the 70-minute mark, and nothing summed up their frustration more than Rooney's hack at David Hunt that could have brought him more than a booking.
Hunt, who volleyed another great chance wide, at least had the England striker's shirt to show for his troubles. 'I'd got the whack in the face so I think the shirt was an apology,' he said. 'It's been a mad day, a great experience and I thought we gave them a real run for their money. You couldn't really see the difference in the 93 places that separate us in the league.'
Crawley's Argentine midfielder Sergio Torres revealed Rooney's growing frustration with his teammates after he came on at halftime for the injured Anderson. 'He was shouting at his own players towards the end,' said Torres.
MATCH FACTSMANCHESTER UNITED (4-5-1): Lindegaard 5; Rafael 6 (Smalling 54mins, 7), Brown 7, O'Shea 7, Fabio 6 (Fletcher 69, 6); Bebe 4, Anderson 5 (Rooney 46, 5), Carrick 5, Gibson 6, Obertan 5; Hernandez 5.Subs not used: Kuszczak, King, Pogba,Tunnicliffe. Booked: Brown, Rooney.CRAWLEY TOWN (4-5-1): Kuipers 6;Hunt 6, Mills 8, McFadzean 7, Howell 6;Gibson 7 (Cook 69, 6), Bulman 7, Smith 7 (Rusk 81), Torres 7, McAllister 7 (Brodie 63, 7); Tubbs 7.Subs not used: Rents, Wilson, Napper,Shearer. Booked: Torres.Referee: Lee Probert 6.Man of the match: Pablo Mills.'I leant into him during the second half and put him on the floor, so I was happy with that.
'I was a bit disappointed when I saw the team because I wanted to face more of their stars but I think we had them rattled.
'Richard Brodie, oh my God, he's gutted is the boy. He was so close and I thought it was going in. If it had it would have changed his life, changed all our lives.'
Nobody could accuse Crawley's players of being star-struck. Outstanding skipper Pablo Mills was so disappointed with the result that swapping shirts was the last thing on his mind.
'I'm a bad loser and I was so angry and disappointed at the final whistle I didn't really want to swap with anyone,' said Mills.
'Originally I wanted Rooney's but he didn't come near me when he came on, which is a shame because I was hoping I'd have a bit of a battle with him. He must have seen what Hernandez got and didn't fancy it!'
While Crawley stayed on the pitch to soak up the adulation from their 9,000 fans, the home players sloped off to the tune of Glory, Glory, Man United. Never has it been less appropriate.
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