According to the fourth estate, the early part of Summer saw Manchester United rocked by Harry Kane staying at Tottenham Hotspur. We were shattered by David de Gea’s imminent departure (he hasn’t gone yet), snubbed by Paul Pogba and had more links than Houdini’s chains. United have been preparing, readying or launching bids for Uncle Tom Cobley, whilst at the same time getting rid of Paul Scholes’s replacement, Tom Cleverley… (having written that sentence, I suddenly had a choking fit).
In early July, Nani left United for Fenerbahçe. The Lisboan arrived in a huge fanfare of expectation in the Summer of 2007; some people claimed that he was better than Cristiano Ronaldo… (oh Christ, I’m off again). Nani looked like Michael Jackson but played football like Janet Jackson. A player of undoubted skill occasionally, he will always be remembered by me as a winger who took worse corners than Mads Timm and whose crosses would’ve been comfortably dealt with by a blindfolded Jim Leighton. To use the words of Brian Clough, he floated like a butterfly and he stung like one.
A seminal moment from Nani at the Estádio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica da Luz in 2010. Cristiano Ronaldo turned Gerard Pique inside out, his exquisite goalbound shot from was gliding over Iker Casillas’s head and into the net. Nani decided to add the finishing touch, from an offside position. Ronaldo’s reaction was priceless
Another player joining Nani in Kadiköy isRobin van Persie, who has left United after three seasons. He came to Old Trafford having turned down a better offer from Manchester City (quelle surprise), and Continue reading Joined The Choir Invisible
With City and Arsenal now assured of top four, Manchester United and Liverpool are now locked in a battle over who is the worst of the best. A sort of consolation prize that modern football and it’s obsession of finishing top four now sees as more important (financially at least) than winning the FA Cup. A contest that should’ve been all over now, is still in play, due to United’s infuriating habit of doing the hard bit, then ballsing up the relatively easy bit. At St James’s Park two years ago, there were pictures of the Arsenal side celebrating coming fourth with more vigour than how Liverpool celebrated their last title win in 1990 (if they knew what was to come, I’m sure they wouldn’t have been so blasé). With United beating Crystal Palace today and assuming that Liverpool somehow beat Chelsea tomorrow, United still need three points to be guaranteed top four. Should United get back into the Champions League next season, it will be good to see the reds back where I believe they belong. That said, having watched the Barcelona V Bayern Munich match the other night, United are a year or two off having a serious stab at winning the thing. Should the qualification happen (and it really should now), I don’t want to see any of triumphant photographs, à la Arsenal. It’s the minimum requirement.
It was no surprise Bayern Munich won, If they’re not the best side in the world at the moment then they are certainly amongst them. The trepidation last week prior to the match about the potential humiliation was a genuine one. Bayern historically have no respect for reputation. Last season, Bayern annihilated an excellent Barcelona side both home and away. On present form, especially after the recent games against City and our biggest rivals Liverpool, it certainly had a plausibility of happening. Nobody would’ve been surprised if it had happened. A tight, disciplined if unspectacular United performance was undone tonight with three Bayern goals in eighteen second half minutes.
Reds in the city of Munich this afternoon (photo courtesy of the Ralph Milne Ultras)
Old Trafford wasn’t overcome with confidence pre match tonight. Sure we all knew that United could and should beat Olympiakos, but after the first leg and the shambles on Sunday, it was a cautious crowd walking down Warwick Road.
The crowd were frenzied early in the game. The noisy contingent of Greeks in the upper tier of the Scoreboard End were drowned out by the fervour of United fans. This isn’t always the case for home matches in Europe but a comprehensive defeat in Piraeus three weeks ago had rallied the Old Trafford crowd in the hope of rallying the team.
This was so bad as to be comical in the Karaiskakis Stadium tonight in Piraeus. Throughout the team is a recurring theme of a bad dream. There’s no heart, no fight, no desire and no apparent idea. Excellent has-beens like Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic and Patrice Evra are beginning to become ruthlessly exposed to being on the wrong side of the proverbial hill. Never-will-be’s like Tom Cleverley, Ashley Young and Chris Smalling are being shown up even worse, through not having the quality around them that they have had in the last couple of years. This is through to the obvious decline brought on by Old Father Time of the aforementioned trio.
View for United fans in Karaiskakis Stadium tonight (photo courtesy of Lee Thomas)