Thoughts of a Manchester United season ticket holder
Wednesday, 31 March 2010
Rooney injury sounds the death rattle for United? Bayern 2 MUFC 1
There's nothing quite like a last minute mugging to give you the biggest kick in the pants...and its even worse when you know you've deserved it.
The night of the 30th March, and specifically 60 seconds of football at the end of last nights match, could well be THE turning point in this season.
All week leading up to the game i have had the jitters. Yes, i know i normally have this anyhow, but i was more concerned by the lack of brain by my fellow United fans. Twitter and the interweb in general have been full of United pomp...fans predicting German slayings, showing total disrespect to a team that has won four European Cups. Treating them like a club with zero tradition and generally wondering which French team it would be better to face in the Semi. That sort of arrogance, fuelled by the idiotic British press, has always worried me. I understand why so many hate the supporters of Manchester United. 50% is pure jealousy. Founded on the notion that our trophy cabinet is actually a fully fledged museum. But the other 50% i feel is justified. Arrogance that we have a divine right to win everything..that we are 'better' for want of another word, than everyone else. Its a very childish way to support a team, but different strokes rule the world. I still very much remember when these big European nights were not even on the agenda. Where a 3rd round cup win at Nottingham Forest was as good as it got. So every game like last night...i respect. I respect the opposition, I respect the occasion and in Fergie i trust.
The team performance last night was in sync with what alot of the fans base deserve. It wont make me popular saying that, but you personally will know if it applies to you or not. It was a disgraceful performance. No real energy. Playing well within our capabilities without ever stepping up to the plate. It had smatterings of last years final against Barca, where several players forgot to actually turn up for the biggest match of their careers. Last night Michael Carrick was awful. For a ball retaining midfielder, he didnt....erm...retain the ball. Ji Sung Park also got completely over ran on the left. At half time i was begging Fergie to bring on Giggs for him to solidify the formation and result. Overall the defense did OK, until the last kick of the game. For an old dog, Gary Nev kept up well with one of the true marquee players in world football, but he will have countless nightmares about a handball you would have expected from a kid, not an experienced pro.
The lack of energy in the team last night was indicative of where we are at the moment. We are not blowing teams away with silky football this season, but we are showing huge amounts of application week in week out...and that may now start to tell on our stamina for the run in. For Fergie, he will have to trust his squad, but I'm not sure i do. By that i mean Berbatov. Its made me laugh the last few weeks how the 'Pro-Berba' lobbyists have been in full flow, after he has had several decent games (and yes i mean decent! he hasn't been world beating by any measure) The main saving grace for me is that when he plays central without Rooney he looks a better player. As he proved once again last night, when he is Rooneys support function, he is a pile of complete ball-bags. He has neither the workrate or desire to function at the top of a midfield. He's a glory boy..stick him up top and he may just sniff out a goal...but that's where his limitations dictate what he does. He is never gonna come on and do a 'Tevez', is he?
Tactically, the substitutions in the second half to push us to play more of a 4-4-2, were a total disaster. As i said, the manager trusts these lads, but that tactical change left a team who were hanging on by the skin of their teeth to being pushed over the edge of the cliff. In the cold light of day, an away goal may just be enough, but the fact that Bayern will start with Ribery, Olic, Gomez and Robben next week scares the life out of me. We haven't played against a front four as good as that in the Prem this year, and even though they have flattered to deceive in the Bundesliga this year, in a one off occasion, where they will be allowed to play counter attacking football to defend their lead...well...it doesn't look good from where I'm standing.
Lastly, Rooneys injury was the cherry on the tripe cake. Without him, i simply don't believe we have the firepower to win any silverware this season. So if he is out for 4 weeks, as stretching your ankle ligaments badly normally means, i have little hope. Im not one of these United fans who believes in football miracles..the great nights of my football team have come from perspiration and brilliance, not some script written in cloud-cuckoo land. Its up to Fergie to get the rest of this team to play as if their lives depended on it now..getting knocked out of the Quarters in the CL and third in the league would dictate that it has been an awful season. We walk this fine line now. Its up to the team to prove they have what it takes in the face of cruel adversity.
Manchester United fan since the age of 9 when he saw Norman Whiteside curl the ball into a Wembley goal in the dying minutes.
He is an Old Trafford season ticket holder in the North Stand Tier 3...and cried tears of joy, on his knees with the many in Moscow.
Rob is a contributing author/editor at Man Utd blogzine 'The Faithful'