It just can’t be stressed enough how important this game is. I have been so nervous about it, that I haven’t slept for nights. Really!!
It’s D-Day, no question about it. We simply have to beat Benfica tonight- there are just no second chances!!
It’s not just the fact that it would be a serious downer if we were to go out of the Champions League now- humiliating in fact, with Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool already through- but it would also seriously endanger our short-term future as a club. Everybody knows the precarious situation that we are in, after the Glazer family has bought the club and leveraged so much debt in order to finance the purchase, unlike Roman Abramovich at Chelsea who has seemingly unlimited funds. Initially, it was rumoured that Glazer promised SAF a 25 million pound transfer kitty. But with the likes of Phil Neville and Jose Kleberson going out, and Van der Sar and Ji-Sung Park coming in- this has yet to materialise. And certainly, any financial considerations or estimates pre-season would have included MU at least qualifying through the initial stages. To not do so would, according to most sources, cost the club anywhere from 20 to 40 million pounds. This in turn might endanger Glazer‘s promised transfer kitty, as well as putting off some potential transfer targets from joining the club. What is more- it will just add to a perception that Man Utd are on the down and out, and no longer a force to be reckoned with.
If we do win tonight against Benfica, qualification is assured- so at least we can say that our fate is in our own hands. But we would also be achieving what we haven’t done in over two years- namely, to win away in Europe. If we draw, the permutations get a little complex and dependent on what is happening in the other game, Villareal vs. Lille. If there is a draw in that game as well, MU will go out, as Lille have a better head-to-head record. If Villareal win, a draw will be enough to see us qualify. If Lille win, it will go down to goal difference with Villareal, the head-to-head being equal. A draw will be enough to ensure UEFA qualification. So it’s all up in the air! We can finish top of the group, or bottom.
Nobody is sure yet of the line-up Fergie will pick. He might go with Park, over Ronaldo, as he has done over recent games. Gary Neville is expected to start and Captain the team, while O’Shea is expected to recover in time from a hamstring strain.
Man Utd have only ever played Benfica four times, and on each occasion has won- most famously twice in the sixties when George Best was at his very best. There would be no better tribute to the great man than a resounding win tonight.
Right now we’re still in all competitions and 2nd in the Premiership. Fergie’s position looks safe. We’re on a winning run. But fail tonight and ALL this could change…..
Please, please boys….get it done tonight….no more excuses!!!!
Prediction? Man Utd: 2 Benfica 1