How gutted are you this morning? Yeah, me too! Manchester United had the tie won if it wasn’t for poor defending from Michael Carrick and the soft dismissal of Rafael. United’s performance over the two legs was scattered with defensive blunders, from Gary Neville’s daft handball to Patrice Evra’s inability to clear the ball during the final minutes at the Allianz Arena.
I’m a fan of Carrick; at his best he brings control and retention of possession. I’ve defended him recently as feel he comes in for harsh criticism considering what he has helped United achieve in recent seasons. This morning however I have no leg to stand on – another poor performance which included an awful piece of defending allowing Bayern to score their first goal and therefore a foot back in the tie. Carrick also lost possession cheaply on the halfway line which lead to the corner Bayern scored their second goal.
Does Carrick have a future at United?
To Rafael, he was superb while he was on the pitch, arguably United’s best player. He gave Ribery (a player with a supposed transfer fee of £60million) a torrid time; he was in the Frenchman’s face from the first minute and didn’t allow him to settle on the ball. His performance bodes well for the future, surely Rafael will learn from this experience and mature (in terms of football) faster and become a better player. Right back is an area which I felt required reinforcing but not now.
To the sending off, both yellow cards were soft however Rafael can have no complaints. For the first yellow Rafael can’t go around kicking out at other players. For the second yellow card, Ribery was running into a dangerous area but Rafael dragged him. Ribery perhaps should have also received a yellow for his swinging arms. The Bayern players certainly piled the pressure on the referee by surrounding him and forcing a decision.
United couldn’t have had a more perfect start, two goals in the opening ten minutes and the thoughts of Roma came flooding back. Sir Alex Ferguson’s team selection was perfect; a midfield of Gibson, Carrick (less so) and Fletcher gave us the spark and energy that was missing for the defeat against Chelsea.
Nani and Valencia were constant attacking threats. Nani was superb yet again; he really is making his critics eat their words.
As a result of the red card United (as a team) went deeper and deeper allowing Bayern to attack with little fear of conceding themselves. To solely defend for forty minutes is a difficult ask at the best of times, to solely defend with only ten men for forty five minutes and not concede a goal is an extremely difficult task and so it happened… Could we respond? Not really, this is where the extra man was highlighted. Bayern popped the ball around to one another and kept possession with ease.
It will be easy to blame the referee than look at ourselves. The defending of Carrick, Neville and Evra are to blame rather than any referring decision. The team are not far off from competing at the elite; one or two additions to the squad (creative midfielder and another striker) will see us better equipped.
Another Champions League season ends in disappointment, suppose there always will be disappointment unless we win the thing. However, have we bettered our expectations before the start of the season after the loss of Ronaldo and Tevez? In the big games the loss of Ronaldo has been highlighted, we could have done with Ronnie last night…
I’m proud of the lad’s performance; down to ten men and it still took a wonder goal to knock us out.