Forget the fact that two of Bilbao's goals had issues with the rules of the game; Manchester United, not for the first time in Europe this season, turned in an unacceptable performance.
It's hard to tell what has gone missing from as recent as last season when the side knew how to play effectively in Europe and still keep it flowing in the league. This season, we have approached European games in the same way that we play Saturday league football albeit with a little more complacency.
For instance, in seasons past; after Wayne Rooney gives us the lead like he did, we play keep ball for a while and let the opposition soak it in that they're playing at Old Trafford and they're a goal down. After boring them into submission, we hit again. This season however, we've been Arsenal like in Europe---you attack, we attack approach that has given the opposition reason to keep coming at you and threading balls past your back four with relative ease.
The saddest thing about it all is that even in our 'gang-hu' approach, we would still be much better off in the tie if our defending was a tad more up to the task. I mean Rafael's defending to let Muniain stab that third goal home as he was unaware of his surroundings is miles short of professional. That kind of stuff adds fuel to the argument that too many players may not be good enough. I'd like not to believe in that last statement, but sitting in the pub watching the game with neutrals makes it hard to make a case for such defending at European level.
As it stands, we'll have to put up our best European performance this season to advance from the away leg. Playing as they did at Old Trafford makes you wonder how good they can be at their ground nicknamed 'The Cathedral'.
As far as European honours go, the players have to do justice to themselves in Bilbao next Thursday, however me won't be complaining much if this result has no effect whatsoever on our league form. The league remains priority and is fast looking like our best shot at silverware this season. We've got West Brom at home on Sunday, so we'll have to put this behind us as quickly as possible.
ONWARDS AND UPWARDS!
Labels: UEFA EUROPA LEAGUE