…will have watched last night’s match against Olympiakos with a growing sense of expectation.
“At last Old Trafford has something to celebrate – a place in the champions league quarter final.” Final words from the Sky 1 Commentator were to ring in my head.
A far cry from better days, but the house of cards still stands. How convinced was I?
I watched with interest. My viewing was delayed due to taxi duties.
This was a curious affair. In my head Man Utd were dead and buried once Ferguson left. he hung on and on. His influence (malign some felt) marked many games. Extra time was injury time, and Fergie time. Players could ‘obey the laws of gravity’ and make the ref decide. United have a Fergie team, but I don’t think it capable of playing for other managers. Moyes needs to dismantle it and reinvent.
The elephant in the room is the fans. The prawn butty brigade have lost touch with real football. United’s season would be considered a success by most clubs. Having a 70,000 fan groan, at each less than perfect play, seems a tricky proposition. I know many United fans. Few of them admit how far the club can fall, yet they have a part to play, and this is all about Moyes.
The problem is one for the Glazers. If they stick with Moyes (who never impressed me, even in his Preston NE days) United are reinvented – but that’s it. If they twist – well this season’s poor performance will be nothing to what will happen.
Looking at the team, without Fergie to paper over the cracks, its flaws are too clear. De Gea is error prone. Rafael is still too willing to commit to rash challenges, and Young who came on as a sub goes down too easily. Refs notice these blemishes and Moyes has to unpick this legacy. there are other issues too. Three of tonight’s players have class – van Persie, Rooney and Giggs. The body language of Rooney with van Persie is excruciating. Giggs is 40… what does that say about the rest of the team? Not enough desire or not good enough. Time and again they were out played and out thought by Olympiakos, who could easily have scored a crucial away goal.
Tonight’s showing exposed just how vulnerable United are. They deserved to win, but in my reckoning, not go though. Their body language wasn’t hungry enough.
From the off, Olympiakos were in United’s faces. Early on Valencia received an injury that would have sent most players straight to the treatment room. His left eye was battered and swelled so much he looked like he’d stepped out of a boxing ring. Valencia soldiered on until the 77th minute – not always to good effect – some of his challenges could have carded him; however I have to admire his guts.
United’s midfield was prone to getting overrun. The back four were just about capable of keeping out a Greek side whose record on English soil is abysmal.
The decline has begun and Moyes will have to run hard to stand still. It won’t be enough to recycle the players and put out a new team; the philosophy of the back-room staff will be challenged as well; it must because on tonight’s showing, a top 4 finish for Man Utd is more than one season off. And as for progress in this seasons’s CL is concerned, they’re a scalp waiting to be had. You never know, though, FFP might help in some way next season.
In United’s favour:
The house of cards hasn’t fallen, reckoning day is put off… until the next game.
Tonight’s result: Manchester United 3 – 0 Olympiakos
Over both ties: Manchester United 3 – 2 Olympiakos
That was lat night’s view.
3-0. Just enough. Links to a muted press reaction.
The Daily Telegraph: Van Persie hat-trick lifts gloom for Moyes
The jury’s still out on post-Fergie.