United played Benfica three times in two famous European Cup ties in the 1960’s. Barring friendlies (one which in 1992, was Eric Cantona’s debut for United), after 1968 United went 37 years without playing the Lisboa eagles and then, like a bus, we’ve now played them six times in six years. It’s a sign of both overkill and the times that I only know two people that have gone to Lisbon for tonights match where once upon a time I would’ve known tens if not hundreds of people who’d have gone.
Ryan Giggs, Darren Fletcher and Antonio Valencia made a first start to a competitive match this season. A far less welcome first start of the season goes to the bloody awful black & blue hooped shirts who’s only redeeming feature to me is that it’s not as bad as the Tesco bag away shirts United used in the mid 1990’s. I sometimes think that the people who design Uniteds away shirts are on a diet of bad acid. Can anybody tell me what’s wrong with having United play in red as first choice and a white shirt when having to change ?
United started well but then Benfica got a grip on the game with Cardozo scoring past the impressive Anders Lindegaard on 24 minutes. Giggs came up with a moment of magic just before half time to equalise. The match ended 1-1 and tonight I think Sir Alex Ferguson just about got away with resting Young and playing an increasingly ineffective Michael Carrick. I believe that a full strength United side would’ve beaten Benfica tonight.
It’s a real coup for ITV to get the refreshing Roy Keane as a panellist for the match, his no nonsense analysis contrast sharply with the drone of the pride of Crawley, Gareth Southgate. For some reason over the last couple of seasons, ITV have developed a penchant for conducting their half time and post match analysis pitchside. Maybe it saves them the expense of hiring a commentary booth in these times of austerity (we’re in it together and all that) but tonight they’ve come unstuck. Adrian Chiles, Gareth Southgate & Roy Keane struggled to make themselves heard with the healthy lungs of Angus Young (AC/DC) singing, playing so loud over the stadium tannoy, they could’ve been giving a live performance in the centre circle, à la Monday night football on SKY Sports in 1992. They were stood in front of the United fans and once the AC/DC CD had been turned off, they were serenaded by United fans with their extended repertoire of songs in homage to Keane.