We only needed a draw…..and now we’re out not just of the Champions League, but even UEFA as well. It’s just nothing short of a disaster!! I could barely bring myself to write this post. I’m just so incredibly depressed…..
The thing is, after Scholesy scored that goal in the sixth minute, we were dreadful. We just can’t complain about bad luck. How many saves did their keeper have to make, even in the last ten minutes? And all this when the other result went our way and we were one nil up. For some players, like Rooney and Ruud, it just wasn’t happening- although you could see that they were giving it their all.
But if there is one player that I’d have to pick out and give a piece of my mind to, it would be Cristiano Ronaldo. Having been up to all his b….cks party tricks (which are great when you are 3-0 up!) at the most inappropriate times, then gotten a yellow card, he was the one who gave away the ball cheaply when Benfica scored their first and he was also to blame for giving the ball away many other times, doing a miserable job defensively and just generally winding up the crowd and allowing Benfica back in the game. And by selecting him into what was obviously going to be a difficult environment to play in, given that Ronaldo used to play for Sporting Lisbon, Benfica‘s arch rivals- Fergie has to take the blame equally here. This especially as Ji-Sung Park has played so well recently and more than merited his place in the starting line-up.
The other players that I would single out for criticism are O’Shea, definitely at fault for the first goal and who also gave the ball away cheaply far too often (how we miss last season’s Player of the Season: Heinze!), Silvestre and Rio back to their under-performing worst and one would have to say that Gary‘s motivational skills as Captain hardly shone through, especially when Ronaldo was losing the plot and could have done with a talking to. Of course the best chance that we did have in the second half fell to guess who?…Ronaldo!! And he neither shot nor passed it with Scholesy free in front of an open goal. The truth is that it wasn’t just players who came up short, even though Benfica just seemed to “want it” that much more, it was our tactics as a whole. Our midfield just seemed non-existent and every time the ball was loose, it was a Benfica player and not a MU player who picked it up. Ferdinand, O’Shea and the other defenders seemed to be defending at times in Benfica‘s penalty area, while Rooney and RVN were going back to our own penalty area to pick the ball up. This and a stream of hopeful long balls is hardly the MU we have come to love and be proud of. Even when our subs came on, things didn’t get much better. Only Park looked up for the job. Richardson had no impact at all and Saha did more harm than good.
Okay, maybe enough said. It’s done now. So where do we go from here?? Of course the vultures are out today. You think of it, they’ve said it. “Fergie for the Chop“…”Man Utd Dead and Buried..” Perhaps the worst was the Daily Mail’s: The Lambs of Lisbon. SAF, having not taken interviews after the game, has admitted today that it is a “low point“. Of course, the Sun says that Fergie is “out of time“.
As bad as a result as it was last night, the season is not over. We can still achieve a domestic treble. It’s probably realistic to say that we weren’t going to win the Champions League and Chelsea’s continued involvement might just be the edge we need to catch them in the Premiership. If we were to end up winning the Premiership, the season would be seen as a big success given Chelsea‘s superior buying power and how everybody has been writing us off.
The Glazers seem more stoical than some first thought. I hope that they stick with SAF. Loyalty goes a long way at Manchester United.
So, call me an optimist, but I believe this diastrous loss will spur us on and enable us to win the trophy that we can confidently call our own, the Premiership Crown!!!