The cliche is that only the result counts, but Manchester United were again miserable in victory at St James' Park. Van Gaal has to the find the right formula soon...
Sherwood's cringeworthiness, Matic's Wembley celebrations, why LVG must show balls - it's all here in your Wednesday afternoon Mailbox...
Sir Was Right To Play Carrick At CB v Braga
Perhaps I rabbited on a little too much in Winners and Losers about Scott Wootton being a better option than Michael Carrick at centre-back in Man United's win over Braga. Wootton may be a round peg in a round hole, but he's also a young, fragile peg who clearly isn't ready to mix it with the first-team pegs. Anyway, enough about pegs. While Wootton is a promising defender, Sir Alex Ferguson may regret starting the 21-year-old alongside Michael Keane against Chelsea, when an experienced head in the back-line could have overseen United's safe passage into the quarter-finals.
What Hope Is There For Joe Cole?
After Cole's hopeless performance against Swansea - which saw the midfielder substituted at half-time - The Times' Merseyside football writer Tony Barrett tweeted: 'If any Premier League player has produced a worse individual performance than Joe Cole did last night I can't even begin to imagine it.' And this is a man who has watched Stewart Downing on more occasions than one would wish on their worst enemy. Despite Liverpool having a desperately thin squad at the moment, Cole still doesn't appear capable of forcing his way into Brendan Rodgers' plans. Perhaps another move abroad is the midfielder's best option.
Man United Can't Afford To Be Parsimonious
With Everton demanding a £12million fee for Leighton Baines in the summer, Man United eventually settled on a £4million move for Alexander Buttner to provide competition for Patrice Evra. A club of United's stature shouldn't be searching in the transfer market bargain bin, though, and shortly after Buttner signed, club scout Ed van Stijn said the 23-year-old was as low as 'third or fourth' on his list of left-backs in Holland. Considering Buttner's performance at Stamford Bridge before his half-time substitution, it won't be long before he's third or fourth choice at Old Trafford as well.
Paolo Di Canio Will Never Make It At The Top Level
There is nothing impressive or even remotely amusing about Di Canio's bravado and his headline-writing act at Swindon is incredibly tedious. While he may have led the Robins to promotion in his first season at the club, Di Canio's frequent immature outbursts - such as his gesture to Aston Villa fans on Tuesday - threaten his prospects of climbing the managerial ladder. No Premier League club owner would stand for his small-time sideshow and no top-level player would put up with his brash approach. If the Italian is fortunate enough to be given a shot in the top flight, expect him to fail spectacularly.
Paul Lambert Is Struggling To Find His Best Side
After Villa threw away a 1-0 lead to draw with Norwich last weekend, Paul Lambert shrugged off fears the club are in a relegation battle. "I just have this belief everything will be fine," said Lambert, but unless he can work out his best starting line-up, Villa will continue to struggle at the lower end of the Premier League. After the last round of League Cup matches, we questioned whether Darren Bent is still in Villa's strongest first XI and the striker continued his substitute role against Swindon. However, with Lambert critical of Christian Benteke's work-rate after the match, it seems the manager still has a decision to make over which forward should lead a march into mid-table.
Arsenal's Win Could Be The Jolt They Needed
Arsenal have been rather sluggish of late, but their incredible fight-back against Reading could be the perfect tonic ahead of Saturday's trip to Old Trafford. We focused on their impressive attacking options after the third round and Theo Walcott, Marouane Chamakh and Olivier Giroud were instrumental in the Gunners' 7-5 victory at the Madejski. Despite being all at sea for most of the first half, Arsenal showed grit and determination to battle their way back into the tie and the reward may be more than just a quarter-final trip to Bradford.
It Takes Two For Liverpool To Tango
With Liverpool trailing to Swansea at half-time, Brendan Rodgers called for the big guns of Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez to salvage the tie. The Reds crashed out despite Suarez pulling a goal back, and the result and performance demonstrates how reliant Liverpool are on their two stars. Gerrard and Suarez have also been called upon in the Europa League recently - starting the win over Anzhi and entering the fray after an hour in the Udinese clash - and Rodgers will be desperate for both to avoid injury before January. When the window finally re-opens, it's essential that FSG loosen the purse strings to allow Rodgers to make much-needed improvements to his squad.
Anderson And Moses Are Pushing For Starts
Both Anderson and Victor Moses impressed on Wednesday and the pair's performances suggest they have an important role to play at their respective clubs this season. Anderson may be a lardy so-and-so, but he was calm in possession against Chelsea and offered support to the attack. Meanwhile, Moses was a constant outlet for the Blues and his direct running at the United defence caused all sorts of problems. Sir Alex Ferguson and Roberto Di Matteo should be pleased with their two reserves, but they will be equally disappointed with the contributions of Nani and Daniel Sturridge, who again showed they are undeserving of starting spots.
There's Plenty Of Fight Left In Norwich
Following Norwich's dreadful start to the season, it seemed as though Chris Hughton's side were set for a long and gruelling relegation battle. However, the deserved victory over Arsenal has sparked them into life and the Canaries have continued their steady improvement, fighting back from a goal down to secure a late win against Spurs on Wednesday. With Michael Turner gradually establishing himself in the team and Wes Hoolahan (who was rested against Spurs) pulling the strings behind Grant Holt in attack, Norwich have every chance of rekindling their form from last season and lifting themselves into the comfort of mid-table.
The Capital One Cup Is Alive And Kicking
The fourth round of the aptly abbreviated COCUP was packed with plenty of errors and bags of entertainment, with the two televised matches totalling 21 goals. But best of all, the weekend brings the return of the Premier League, unlike in the FA Cup where we're forced into an unwanted two-week break. As I wrote here, it's hard to think of any reasons not to love the League Cup, especially when it throws up such enjoyable matches. We'd hardly be doing anything else on a Wednesday anyway, and for the first time in living memory, we can't wait until the quarter-finals in December.
Matt Stanger - he's on the Twitter.