Manchester United might have to thank the floodlight failure for their eventual victory in Braga and ticket to the last 16 of the Champions League. The team that went out before the lights failure was markedly different from the one that came out after the 10 minute forced time-out.
It was another lame performance in Europe (thank God we're not in THAT GROUP) but given the nature of our group, we still managed to come away with all three points. To be fair to the players, Sir Alex played a lot of them out their natural positions. Valencia, Giggs, Welbeck, Rooney were all not in their natural swag because of where they had been asked to play so that did have an effect, but thankfully the manager made the right changes just in time for us to claw back a goal and win it eventually.
Special mention must of course go to Robin van Persie who came on and 'turned on the light' for us. He took his 11th goal for us with some confidence that made yours truly marvel at the quality that he is. I know a lot of strikers in world football that would have taken one more touch even after seeing the goalkeeper out of position (I mean Hernandez took another even after beating the goalkeeper for his and in the process nearly missed his chance) so for RVP to have the confidence to beat the keeper from that angle and that far out was real quality.
We've won the group with two games to spare. so finally we can see a lot of the focus shift to the league. A one point lead is nothing in this division (especially when you consider that last season we lost an 8 point lead) so we need to consolidate it before the dark clouds of December gather. We've got quite a number of away games before we play at home again but all those fixtures are winnable to be fair. It'll be gutting to throw away any of those points in the circumstances.
The first of those games is a trip to Villa Park. Or rivals have tricky Sunday fixtures on the menu, so it will be great to win before them and throw another nerve or two in their systems ahead of those games. Given the squad selection for Braga and the International break coming up, it will be expected that the manager sends out his strongest possible team to get the job done.
P.S. It was great to have Smalling back but hopefully that doesn't mean that Jonny replaces him on the treatment table.
ONWARDS AND UPWARDS!
Labels: PREVIEWS, UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE