Cambridge United - Manchester United Match Preview
Cambridge United vs Manchester United

As the temperatures dropped below 0 degrees, Cambridge United fans had no qualms of sleeping overnight next to Abbey Road Stadium to ensure they got their hands of tickets for the club's FA Cup game with Manchester United.

Sleeping bags joined the prominent signs telling the town that Manchester United were coming to play and many joined the queue before 6AM to grab the last few tickets.

Tickets sold out before 10:30AM with a club director personally telling the fans waiting in line to reach the ticket booth.

The magic of the cup is certainly still alive and while the tie of the round may be on Friday night the 9,000 Cambridge United fans at the game will never forget it.


Cambridge United

Richard Money faces no new injury concerns ahead of the big game and after a resounding victory against Newport Country at the weekend, Money may be tempted to begin with the same starting XI.

Sullay Kai-Kai is on loan from Premier League side Crystal Palace while his striking partner, Tom Elliot, is 6ft 4in and began his career at Leeds United's youth academy.

Ryan Donaldson is a former Newcastle United player while Cameron McGeehan is on loan from Norwich City and Liam Hughes is somewhat a club legend having been at the club since he was 15, making over 125 first team appearances.

Richard Tait is a former Nottingham Forrest trainee and Greg Taylor is a key player in the side, making 60 appearances at left-back last season. Josh Coulson is Cambridge's longest serving player having made over 230 appearances for the club while Cambridge United is Michael Nelson's 11th club in his career.

Chris Dunn signed for Cambridge last summer from Yeovil Town, who Manchester United faced in the last round.

Manchester United

Victor Valdes is widely expected to make his Manchester United debut after signing as a back-up for David De Gea earlier this month.

Jonny Evans, Chris Smalling and Ashley Young were all confirmed as injured for the trip to Cambridge on Friday night by manager Louis van Gaal.

However, the United boss was pleased to announce that both Robin van Persie and Luke Shaw are fit to feature on Friday.

With an almost fully fit squad available and no midweek games either side of the game, van Gaal is thought to choose a very strong side to entertain the League Two fans at Abbey Road.

Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal insists that despite Cambridge sitting 12th in the 4th tier of English Football, he and his players will not take the fixture lightly.

The Dutchman said that the U's play similarly to previous United opponents and will be treated in the same way.

"When you see Cambridge and analyse them, they play very direct, with long balls, and have five or six players who are over 1.9m in height. So for us it Wil be difficult to defend.

"That is why we have to prepare very well. It's not so easy to play and beat Cambridge United.

"It is another opponent, with another playing style, with other players, and we have to beat them, otherwise we are out.

"It's always tough to play, in the mind at least, a weaker team, because in the players' minds it's a weaker team," said Van Gaal.

"For example, PSV Eindhoven, the no.1 team in the league in the Netherlands, lost to the no.3 side in the second division.

"That shall always happen in the FA Cup. There are always surprises, and I hope we are not the surprise."

On the contrary, Cambridge United player Josh Coulson, born and bred in the town, says that the play-off final last year to see them promoted from the Skrill Premier was far bigger than Friday's match.

"The play-off final to get into the Football League was a massive game, the biggest game of my career because it meant more," said Coulson.

"I just think this is a different type of game. This game is just reward for the last 18 months the club has been through, but it's still a game you want to be part of.

"It (the experience of playing in the FA Trophy final and play-off final at Wembley last season) will help, but the main thing is it raises the profile of the club and hopefully the club can keep kicking on."

While Coulson said there was a buzz around the Abbey for the match he said that the boss, Richard Money, had kept the team grounded in preparation for facing Angel Di Maria, Robin van Persie and Radamel Falcao.

"You see Wimbledon got Liverpool and they went on a good run before their game and that's what we wanted to do and we did it.

"Two games, two wins, two clean sheets. We've picked up form in the league which we needed to do and hopefully we can carry it on.

"But it's Man United and whoever they play, they've got some world class players, so it will just be a pleasure to be out there.

"It will be rocking hopefully with a sellout crowd. Luton was pretty nearly sold out and it was really rocking for that one, so I'm just looking forward to playing.

"It's just a game where the players and fans have just got to enjoy it."


Cambridge were on the right end of a shock win at recently promoted League 1 side Fleetwood Town before 1-0 victory over Mansfield Town in a replay and then a third round win over Luton Town at home.

You can read more about the four games leading to the fourth round here.


The only time the two sides, miles apart in quality and reputation, have played against each other was in a two legged League Cup tie in the 1990's when after a 3-0 victory for United at Old Trafford they drew 1-1 at the Abbey Road Stadium.

However, there is another link with former Manchester United player Luke Chadwick, who made 11 league starts, now playing his trade in Cambridge.

"It's a great club here at Cambridge and we deserve this draw against a massive club," said Chadwick, 34.

"We've got some fantastic players at Cambridge. I'm sure they can't wait to get on the pitch.

"We'll have the whole world watching on Friday night and they'll be able to show them how good they are.

"We're playing against a world-class team. All we can do is go out there, play to the best of our abilities, work as hard as we can and see where that takes us."



They have met just once before - a League Cup second-round tie in 1991. Manchester United won the first leg 3-0 thanks to goals from a 17-year old Ryan Giggs, Steve Bruce and Brian McClair. The second leg at the Abbey Stadium was drawn 1-1. Future Man Utd striker Dion Dublin scored for Cambridge while McClair was again on the scoresheet for the Red Devils.

The two sides are separated by 75 places in the League pyramid.

Cambridge United

Cambridge have reached the FA Cup quarter-finals twice in 1990 (shared record for a Fourth Division club) and again the following season in 1991.

The 1991-92 season was the last time Cambridge knocked a top-flight team out of the FA Cup when they beat Coventry City after a replay.

They are in the fourth round of the FA Cup for the first time in 15 years. Back in January 2000, they beat Wrexham 2-1 to set-up a fifth-round tie at home against Bolton, which they lost 3-1.

They won two finals at Wembley twice last season, winning the FA Trophy 4-0 against Gosport Borough and the Conference Premier play-off final 2-1 v Gateshead.

The U's have scored more second-half goals than any other side in League Two this season (24).

Cambridge United have scored a league-high number of headed goals this term in League Two (14).

No team has recorded more goals from inside the penalty area in League Two than Cambridge this campaign (34).

They have only kept five cleans sheets in 25 league matches this season.

They have only won consecutive league games twice this season.

Manchester United

They have won the FA Cup a joint record 11 times - but their last victory came back in 2004.

The Red Devils have won all seven of their previous FA Cup ties against teams in the fourth tier, scoring 21 goals in the process.

They have lost just one of their last 40 FA Cup matches against lower-league opponents - against Leeds in 2010 (W33 D6 L1).

Manchester United have lost just one of their last 13 matches in all competitions.

Their last four league games have produced just five goals in total.

The Red Devils have kept just four clean sheets away from home this season in all competitions.

Wayne Rooney has scored six goals in his last six FA Cup matches.

Their defenders have contributed just one goal in all competitions this season (Chris Smalling v Hull).

Only seven teams have conceded more goals from headers this season in the top flight.