'Sacked in the morning' chant Chelsea fans at Sarri as Man United win FA Cup fifth round tie

Manchester United's French midfielder Paul Pogba runs
Maurizio Sarri felt the familiar stadium refrains of the beleaguered manager – and an unfamiliar one also – as Chelsea crashed out of the FA Cup. This was a brilliant away performance from Manchester United and another, dare-it-be-said, throwback of a performance in which they defended resolutely and counter-attacked ruthlessly to emphatically earn their place in the last eight.
They were driven on by Paul Pogba with yet another goal and yet another assist. The re-born, the rejuvenated released midfielder has now had a hand in 15 goals, in 12 games, since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took over in December.
Against this Sarri was met with chants of “you don’t know what you are doing” and “sacked in the morning” and an even angrier one emanating from the Matthew Harding Stand of “f--- Sarri-ball”. Not one for the purists.
These are intensely difficult times for the Italian as he heads towards Sunday’s Carabao Cup Final against Manchester City who whipped his team 6-0 little over a week ago. How much longer will he last? Every substitution, every change Sarri made was met with an open rebellion by the supporters. He is the first Chelsea manager for some time to lose the fans like this and it appears unsustainable. It feels like the fag end, already, of the chain-smoker’s tenure.
At the same time, Solskjaer gave his chances of earning a permanent contract another boost, bouncing back from the Champions League defeat against Paris Saint-Germain with an impressive response and yet another win. It was the first time in five meetings in this competition that United had prevailed against Chelsea and that will also be noted as will the, yet again, incredible, high-energy support he received from his club’s fans.
The last tie of the fifth round was the heavyweight; a rematch of last season’s final and a meeting imbued with even greater meaning because this trophy mattered even more to both clubs this campaign. And to these two managers.
It felt like it and it unfolded like it. The pace, from the first whistle, was unrelenting. United made the running; Chelsea came back - before being overwhelmed and angrily booed off at half-time. “Come on Sarri, sort it out,” was one of the more publishable comments directed at the stressed Chelsea manager. United was rampant.
Chances had been traded; opportunities created; saves made and cautions also earned with Nemanja Matic, one of three former Chelsea players in the United line-up, yellow-carded for hacking down Eden Hazard and Ashley Young also sanctioned for charging into Pedro. No quarter was given.
There was a sharp competitive edge before United, twice, cut through.
They worked the ball down their left, with Juan Mata heavily involved, before Pogba turned back onto his right foot and crossed deep. Ander Herrera stole in at the far post to guide his close-range header into the turf and past goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga with Marcos Alonso badly at fault as he lost the midfielder. It was a fine ball by Pogba; a good run by Herrera and a collective meltdown by Chelsea.
The frustration grew among the home fans. United had the advantage and it was now up to Chelsea to respond; to quicken the pace even further. Meanwhile, the joyful wall of noise from the visiting fans became ever more relentless before they exploded, just before half-time, as Pogba brilliantly doubled their lead.
United broke down the right through Rashford who swung in a cross. Pogba had started the move but then had the desire and determination to make up the ground and sprint into the Chelsea penalty area as the ball flew over Antonio Rudiger. The midfielder dived in, in front of Cesar Azpilicueta, and sent his header into the net off Arrizabalaga who, maybe, should have done better. That was excellent, dominating midfield play by Pogba and intelligent by Rashford who had delayed before picking out his team-mate.
Before that Chris Smalling had headed a smart floated cross by Matic straight at Arrizabalaga, Romelu Lukaku had hooked a volley over while Chelsea had been denied through two unorthodox – or maybe just unconvincing - saves by United’s cup goalkeeper Sergio Romero. First, the Argentine punched out David Luiz’s free-kick and then he got his hand in the way of Pedro’s powerful follow-up.
Soon after Hazard played a sharp one-two and sent in a shot that had Romero scrambling but did not bend enough before Gonzalo Higuain first brought down Jorginho’s chip but, from a tight angle, could only loft his shot onto the top of the net. Then the striker met Azpilicueta’s cross but headed just wide.
Chelsea needed a response; Sarri needed a response. The frustration over his tactics, over a sense of disorganization and predictability in his dogmatic approach, was growing but there was an encouragement when Higuain was given a sight of goal only for Smalling do slide in and block. Soon after, with Matic tripping N’Golo Kante, Chelsea, with protests led by a furious Azpilicueta, demanded a red card for the midfielder but referee Kevin Friend appeared to issue a final warning instead. Matic was fortunate.
It became even louder with Chelsea stretching United again, and in the case of Shaw overstretching, as the full-back hurt himself in just preventing Pedro meeting Kante’s through ball. That was a crucial intervention and there was another as Lindelof was turned by Hazard after a quick free-kick caught United out only for the defender to dive in and deflect the forward’s fierce shot just over the cross-bar.
There were chants from the Chelsea fans for Callum Hudson-Odoi to come on with the 18-year-old a focus of the irritation with Sarri. Instead, having brought on Willian, he turned to Ross Barkley. Once again, the same substitutions took place with ironic jeers as Mateo Kovacic, following Pedro, was replaced. It made no difference.

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