Thursday, March 06, 2008

Are United really good enough to win the Champions League?

Ferguson is arguably the best British manager of all time; at least he is based on the number of domestic trophies that he was won for both United and Aberdeen. However, in Europe doubts persist about his tactical nouse, some Reds believe that if United are going to win Europe's premier club competition this season it will largely be in spite of the manager. Fergie has himself admitted tactics are not his strongest point. Time and time again United have failed to reach the Champions League final and on Tuesday they once again reached the quarter final by disposing of Lyon, some pundits have described the Reds passage to the last eight as comfortable - that view is charitable, in truth on the night both teams were poor.

Personally, I was totally baffled by Fergie's starting selection, because on a night when United needed to win at home with the backing of 75,000 fans and you do not have an out and out striker, then you need to play with two up front, but no, amazingly Carlos Tevez was left on the bench. It was only late on in the second period following the introduction of the Argentine that United looked like a team who might be capable of winning the competition, until that point they had been unimpressive.

Leaving out the former West Ham striker was a totally ridiculous decision and one which had all the hallmarks of a manager riven by fear of losing. United have a tradition of going forward and attacking teams, they are not very good at defending a slim advantage, which made the manager's starting selection against Lyon all the more baffling.

It isn't the first time that Fergie has got it totally wrong; when Porto controversially knocked United out of the competition in 2004 he left Ronaldo out of both starting line-ups.

In the San Siro against AC Milan last season, the players didn't even appear to have the right boots on. It had been a very wet day and yet when the game started too many United defenders were slipping and falling over, but the home team had no problem on this tricky surface. The Reds were pretty much dead and buried after the first 45 minutes as they once again went on to whimper out of the competition. The AC Milan defeat wasn't about poor tactics, it was worse than that, the Reds failed on the basics of preparation, they went out without giving themselves a chance. It was a bit like sending out your leading batsman, sans bat. Milan didn't beat United, they humiliated us winning three-nil on the night.

Given United's appalling European record, few if any Reds will be that surprised if the manager and his team once again fail this season. However, there is every reason to hopeful, many would back United to win against any of the remaining teams in the competition, but nonetheless there's a nagging feeling that if it is going to happen then it could be down to luck rather than judgment on the manager's part.

United have arguably the best equiped team with the least tactically sound manager in the last eight. Leaving out Tevez against Lyon at Old Trafford does not bode well for what remains of the competition and only die-hard red-tinted spectacle wearing United fans will argue otherwise.


  1. I'm a die hard Man Utd fan, and even I agree with your comments. Fantastic manager and to be honest wouldnt swap him for anyone in the world, but what SAF lacks is present in Benitez, and vica versa. I sometimes wonder who makes the tactical adjustments for Europe, because some of the decision making is really baffling!


  2. Saha is injured again.
    United lost to Portsmouth, and the team that played was a strong United time, but these sort of things happen in tight knockout matches. Scholes missed a chance, Van der Sar is also injured, however we still have options for goalkeeping.
    I noticed as we lost the penalty to Portsmouth, that Baros actually is at Portsmouth (apparently on loan from Lyon, who is 27 or so and an outstanding striking option for the Czech republic and every team he has played for.
    Have United missed out with his status being unstable at the beginning of this season?
    On another note, United are losing 2-0, and there is real possibility they get relegated. Should this happen, should United finally end their striker drought and pick up O bafemi Martins? Or maybe out-of-form Owens?
    All in all, we still need a striker, we are out of the F.A. Cup (not the worst thing in the world for United, but outgoing Ferguson must be terribly dissappointed), and we still need a striker.

  3. Brilliant analysis. We should try picking up Schuster or maybe Ancelotti or Rijkaard once Ferguson leaves


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