Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Fergie baffles Red army over Rooney benching as United let Inter off hook...

IF there were any doubts about Fergie being scared of Jose Mourinho then they were confirmed at the San Siro on Tuesday night. Fergie knew that his team needed to score an away goal against Inter Milan if he wanted to enhance United's chances of going through to the quarter-final of the Champions League, but bizarrely he left Wayne Rooney out of his starting line-up when selecting Ryan Giggs in preference.

Rooney returned to the United first-team last weekend against Blackburn and scored with his first touch, he looked razor sharp which made his decision to play Giggs all the more baffling.

In 2004, Ferguson paid the price for being cautious against Mourinho's Porto when leaving Ronaldo out of both starting line-ups as United went out of the same competition on the away-goals rule.

Last night at the San Siro, Ferguson once more opted for caution when axing Rooney. United dominated the first-period and made Inter look ordinary, but Jose Mourinho who looked shell-shocked throughtout the first-half made several telling changes at the interval. Ferguson, for his part, dithered and did nothing until the 83rd minute before bringing on Wayne Rooney.

United fans in the San Siro and the millions watching on TV will have been cursing throughout the second-half imploring Ferguson to do make the obvious change, it was the most frustrating 45 minutes of United's season so far and many will now be wondering if this will turn out to be another missed opportunity. Inter were there for the taking if only Fergie had taken the initiative, but he did not.

It came as no surprise to hear Ferguson talking like a beaten man after the final whistle, because the United manager knows full well that the tie has swung in favour of Mourinho. Inter will come to Old Trafford looking to pinch a goal on the break and then to defend a lead should it come about, the Italians know they do not have to chase the game, it is a horrible scenario for Ferguson and United.

Going into the first-leg, Jose Mourinho said that United had changed and he's right; the Reds might be champions of Europe, but leaving out your star striker is tactical madness of Rafa Benitez proportions. United fans will be hoping that Ferguson's tactical thinking doesn't once more lead to another frustrating Champions League exit.


  1. a great post, James, hopefully, the United supporters bring along their BELIEF signs and really amp up the volume during the return leg. United could even afford to play 4-3-3 with rooney, tevez and berba. and then switch ronaldo for berba...
    But either way, we need to win, and for that, sometimes a little patience is required ( 60 min). then urgent action is required to ascertain victory. Hopefully, Inter will not score at OT, and we can progress, but it'll be dependant on how clincal our strikers are. Giggs was wasteful and Berba, woeful...

  2. SAF, all respect to him, isn't a continental manager, and doesn't like playing too agressively in Europe. Last season, under CQ, SAF got convinced that UNited were able to tear most teams to shreds
    ( roma??) and that only against the best teams do we need to shut up shop and play on the counter ( barca away) Last night, he expected INter to play like barca, which they have no chance of doing, esp with Mourinho there now, but even last season, they weren't playing devastating football to win the scudetto. They were the best of a bad bunch, and this season, mourinho has tightened the belt, and nothing is getting past the mercurial Cesar, as the defense don't see the ball against italian opposition.
    Yesterday, SAF set his team up to counter a Messi-storm which Zlatan didn't produce, and therefore CArrick, and fletch ran riot. If i were managing last night, after about 30 min. I would've brought on Rooney for Giggs, and told park to play out wide left/right with Ronnie and rooney slots in to CF, as inter were no threat at all and we should've/could've been up 3 or 4 iby 45min. But i suppose i have the advantage of hindsight, who knows, if giggs was withdrawn, maybe INter's midfield diamond may have come to the fore, and over run Carrick and Fletch, but i doubt it, as they were superb, and ably assisted by Park, and Giggs( whose midfield job, Rooney would've done with ease)

  3. Vishnu Chari,

    Once again some very good comments. Regarding the performance of Giggs, I thought he played quite for around 65 minutes but you do wonder why the Welshman along with Park was left on the pitch for so long when it was obvious that changes were needed.

    Last season United saw off the challenge off Barca after drawing in the Camp Nou, they will have to do it again this time against Inter Milan - the difference is the Italians are much be able to defend and so United have a mountain to climb. That said, and I don't really know why this is, but United do play more of an attacking game at home. Also, the Old Trafford crowd will urge the team forward and so we do have a slight advantage. It will be an interesting game to watch.

    I still believe that from the point of view of tactics Mourinho has every reason to feel as though the tie is within his control, but his team looked poor in Milan on Tuesday and I do wonder if Jose has doubts about the quality of some of his players.

    Mourinho did not look happy in the San Siro. It would come as no surprise if the Portuguese manager left Milan this summer for England or Spain; he could easily become United's next manager (more likely Real Madrid's) but I for one am not sure if that would be a good thing.

  4. Hopefully, Mourinho never comes to UNited, his whole footballing philosophy is about playing a "slow" pragmatic, defensive game, whereby his teams nearly bore out the opposition. His teams are usually very narrow, and not very creative. He uses a target man, like a battering ram, not graceful, not artistic and certainly not great to watch. He is usually very judgmental, and therfore creates cliques inside his teams, those he likes and plays and those who are out of favour.
    Such a manager wouldn't be able to manage any of the top clubs in europe, who value playing artistic and entertaining football as highly as actually winning trophies. Barca, Real, United, to a lesser extent Liverpool & Arsenal ( who haven't won much in the last 5 ) and AC Milan, and Inter before Jose, all played entertaining football. Even Chelsea are looking to play entertaining football, otherwise Roman wouldn't have gotten rid of Jose.
    He plays very narrow football, hardly ever using true wingers, even selling wingers already at the club, and using them in cenrtal positions as support strikers, and plays with the expectation that his team can dominate games, and stamp their authority and style on games. He plays without any backup plans and that is why he has been lacking in European competition. At Porto, in 04 when they won, most of the big teams knocked each other out, and Monaco were the real giant killers(chelsea and Real), finally succumming to Porto in the final.
    I would hate for Mourinho to pull off a win at OT, and doubt his squad would be able to breach the defence of Vida, Rio and VDS. Rooney, Tevez and Ronaldo will rip INter to shreds if we play well, and capitalise on our chances. Hopefully, Giggs doesn't play as 2nd striker. ( btw could i write for this blog?)

  5. Pretty much bang on the money I'd say Vishnu.

    Despite my comments about Jose feeling he can win the tie, it is very much in United's hands and I think that our players believe they can win the match.

    A note of caution; a few seasons back we faced a similar scenario against Real Madrid - everyone was super confident that United would win, but once again we ended up being knocked out.

    Vishnu, Can you email me please:


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