11 Thoughts On The Man United v Bayern Munich Game

1. It’s a game. Shit happens. This is the 3rd time I’ve said that in 8 days.

2. This season is effectively over. A top 2 finish in the EPL and a QF in the CL. To be honest, at the start of the season this would have been at par with expectations in a post-Ronaldo and post-Tevez world. In some ways the team has flattered to deceive. But the time has come to think about next season and perhaps get a head start on what will be a truncated summer.

3. Berbatov has failed his big test, and we have to accept that whatever else he is, he is not a frontline striker. He doesn’t have the game, the speed and most importantly the mindset. He is still brilliant as a second striker, playing in a withdrawn role and supporting the frontmen. Perhaps a remodelling into an offensive midfielder is in order.

4. Michael Carrick is the one player who seems to have regressed. He has had a few excellent games, but none this year. Crisis of confidence? He had a decent first half but was completely at fault for allowing Olic to score the goal that gave Bayern some wind in their sales. He needs to be given an ultimatum and made to undertake extra training in summer.

5. Rafael! Rafael! I was worried about his impetuosity before the game. Oh how I would love to have been proved wrong. He had a fantastic game, rendering Ribery completely useless in the first half. But incurred an unnecessary yellow card by reacting to a foul, and then saw red for a second bookable offence. Again, Rafael is largly good news – his ability is stunning and if he gets his head sorted, he will be a great replacement for Gary Neville.

6. Rooney was a passenger after the first 30 minutes. He should have been taken off as soon as the 3rd goal went in, it would have allowed Berbatov to get more time to bed into the game, retain possession and keep things calm. Tactically this was the one thing Sir Alex probably got wrong.

7. Robben’s goal was a beauty. It’s the second time in 2 rounds that he has rescued Bayern with a brilliant and decisive goal. It’s the second time Bayern have progressed on away goals with a 4-4 scoreline. No wonder the combination of Ribery and Robben is now commonly known as Robbery! A key difference in mindsets was demonstrated in Robben’s goal. Often commentators will suggest that a player has too much time waiting for the ball to come down. Robben was in shooting position, body contorted and waiting for what seemed like ages. English players presumably lack the mental calmness or focus, relying more on instinct and bypassing the brain!

8. 2 poorly conceded goals summed up United’s home and away games against Bayern. Both superbly taken by Olic, both outcomes of shoddy defending from positions of strength. Something for Sir Alex to ponder in his quieter moment. Both goals turned the tie from “advantage United” to “Bayern now have a great chance”.

9. Mancheter United still contrived to also miss some clear chances. Even with 10 men, any of half a dozen chances if taken would have sealed the game. Nani, Carrick, Fletcher all missed good chances. Earlier, Rafael chose to shoot when he led a counter-attack into the Bayern box, with Rooney free and waiting.

10. Nani and Valencia are as deserving of kudos for their improvement as Rooney is, this year. Nani’s first goals for months, but anything Joe Cole can do, Nani can do better, it seems! And all of a sudden, Nani has become the consumate team man! Valencia’s sheer athleticism is a treat, and I see both these players providing yeoman service to United on the flanks for a few years to come.

11. Kudos to Bayern for coming through a tough tie with flying colours. They too have a team that can only be considered average in the upper echelons of the Champions League, but they put all they had into it and are fortunate but deserving of the Semi-Final spot.

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