Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Italians eaten alive as United roll back the years...

Manchester United sent shockwaves around the rest of Europe last night as they thrashed AS Roma 7-1. It was a proverbial modern day reenactment of feeding the christians to the lions, except of course that it was the Romans being devoured in our very own theatre of screams.

Not since 1968 have United knocked in seven goals in one game in the Champions League. Back in '68 it was the old European Cup and it was Waterford of Ireland who were on the wrong end of a 7-1 tonking. To beat AS Roma 7-1 who currently lie in second spot in Serie A is a bit special.

Some are even saying it was United's best ever performance in Europe, it actually could well be our best ever European performance at Old Trafford, but for many and for me, the Reds 5-1 away win against Benfica is still the clubs greatest ever performance in Europe, what happened at Old Trafford last night no doubt will be a talking point for years to come.

I actually wasn't that surprised about the way United went about their business against Roma, as I'd posted following the defeat in Rome last week, the Italians looked nothing special and I predicted that with United being a younger side we would have the legs on Roma this week and that Fletcher's inclusion at the expense of Scholes might actually work for United with the Scot being fresh after a lay-off.

Fletcher must have covered every blade of grass and he was undoubtedly one of United's unsung supporting heroes in a star studded glittering performance which was led by Giggs, Ronaldo and Carrick, who where all outstanding.

On the eve of the game yesterday I'd questioned Giggs's application in many of these big games at this stage of the competition, but last night he was sublime. If he wasted a pass in the game then I cannot remember it. The Welshman played a key role, his service was top drawer all night, none more so than when feeding two fantastic passes into the feet of firstly Alan Smith to score a brilliant goal, and then to Rooney who finished like the master craftsman that he is, but all of the Reds goals last night were team goals.

While Giggs supplied the subtle passes, it was once again Ronaldo who was the driving force from midfield, the Italians couldn't stop his surging runs from deep, time and time again he left two or three players in his slipstream, it is a joy to watch and long may it continue, his two goals were well deserved and well taken, as was Evra's.

Michael Carrick scored a brace that anyone in the world would have been proud of, prior to the game I'd mentioned that United no longer have a Roy Keane to call upon and that we lacked leaders, but even the great man himself hasn't finished like Carrick did last night, it was coolness personified, absolutely top class.

Of the tactics, Roma were actually made to play against United who love nothing more than a real toe-to-toe football match, the Reds aren't any good at the cat and mouse stuff that we've seen from previous exponents of the old cynical Italian game of years gone by.

Last night, to their credit AS Roma came to United to play football and got spanked for their troubles, much the same way as many of our North West rivals have this season.

The weird thing is, Ferguson arguably gets much of his tactics arse about face in Europe, as once again he played Rooney on the left wing and Giggs behind the lone striker - where Rooney should be, but last night it worked perfectly. What England manager Steve McClaren makes of it all would interesting to know. Reds fans don't actually care too much about that, for now we look forward to Watford in this coming weekends FA Cup semi final.

I know a few United anoraks who are trying to find out the last time an Italian side lost 7-1 in Europe, I don't know when that was, but it doesn't happen very often. If anyone knows the answer to that then drop me a line.

PS. Spare a thought for Alan Smith who the club tried to off-load back in January to Cardiff and Leeds United, how short sighted was that? They do say that Fergie is a lucky manager...just imagine if Smith had gone, could things have worked out differently last night?

3 comments:

  1. U're spot-on with your comments on the match especially the "spare-a-thought" for Smithy... I cant understand why some fans still try to run him down at every single opportunity! He needs every supprt that he can get and I believe we need to look beyond someone birth place to show our support!!!

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  2. It was outstanding, and this is the true spirit of football, to play with the ball, to score with the ball, to win with the ball, and not draw out a draw or a one-nil victory, like Chelsea.

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  3. Hi there. I don't know the last time an Italian team lost 7-1 in Europe but Gazzetta say this morning that this was the heaviest defeat for an Italian team in the Champions League. By the way, at http://blogs.reuters.com/soccer Mitch Phillips has a breakdown on United's best performances in Europe, including the Benfica game, obviously.

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