United in for long cup haul
By Alex Dunn
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Kieran Richardson insists Man Utd are fully focused on retaining the Carling Cup.
Kieran Richardson insists Manchester United are fully focused on retaining the Carling Cup, despite the fact they barely scraped past Crewe in the last round.
Wednesday night's third round clash at Gresty Road demonstrated just how far some of United's youngsters have to go before they are ready for regular first team football but Richardson prefers to offer a more positive perspective.
Reward for a 2-1 victory over their League One counterparts was a tough looking tie at Roots Hall in early November, when Sir Alex Ferguson's side take on Southend for the first competitive time in the club's history.
Ferguson was willing to concede at the final whistle that his side were fortunate to progress and while he will be demanding a drastic improvement, Richardson is predicting another tough game on their travels.
"We had a laugh about the draw because it could hardly have been any further away," said Richardson.
"But we will be treating Southend very seriously and we know they will be out to make it really hard for us.
"It will be like a cup final for them, as it is for most clubs when they play Manchester United. But we have to match them and hopefully get the win."
Richardson started Wednesday's game on the left side of midfield but when Richie Jones and namesake David failed to get a grip of the middle, he was asked to move inside and stifle Crewe's control.
Although still just 21 himself, England international Richardson accepts that he is now a senior enough figure at the club to take on extra responsibility.
"As one of the more experienced players in the team, you have to try and lead by example," said Richardson.
"We had a lot of chances, me in particular, but we didn't take them.
"It was disappointing not to get the win in 90 minutes but at least we got the win in the end, which is the most important thing."