Against all odds and expectations, United managed 14 points from a rather tricky group and topped the group as well in a season with a manager who has little or no Champions League experience. That however cannot blur the fact that domestically, United have been average and looked like nothing like Champions.
The champions league run has pumped up the manager's hopes to the extent that he's now thinking about winning the competition. Whereas it's nice and all for David to show the 'big-club' mindset of targeting Europe's most prestigious piece of silverware, the reality is that this United team would have to pull off a greater escape than Chelsea did in 2012 to even get to Benfica 2013.
The draw for the last 16 takes place on Monday but you have admit that there are some good footballing sides that will end up in pot 2. It means that Moyes' chances of 'taking us to another final' come down to how shrewd he'll be in January or how good he can get this Manchester United side to be by February when the competition resumes. At the moment, winning the FA Cup and the Capital One Cup seem more realistic targets than a trophy coveted by much stronger clubs on the continent as well.
Game Proper: It remains to be investigated what happens to United between midweek Champions League games and league games at the weekend. United have been quick on the attack and counter in Europe but have been incredibly slow in the league. Football matches these days are won by speed on the move as much as anything else. We've been incredibly slow in the league so much so that it has been easy for sides in the league to defend our attacks. It's possibly the least improvement once can ask of United at the moment.
We still looked shabby in terms of passing the ball and (especially) in defence where we were very fortunate to keep a clean sheet. At times the defence was all over the place as our guests intricately passed the ball around our box, looking for openings. Must improve.
Ashley Young justified why he won't be improving his starts record anytime soon for the club by missing chances you would expect to be put away at this level. I'm not entirely confident in the fact that we always seek to play the ball behind our opponents before we shoot at goal. We need more shots around the edge of the area and unfortunately we lack a midfielder who is willing to put his foot in. It's why I would rather we had kept one of Lingaard or Powell in the side. Lingaard's ability and confidence to shoot from range won us a number of pre-season games and boy could we do with that ability now. None of Cleverley, Kagawa or anyone else for that matter shoots often enough from range. It is a handy tool knowing that you don't have to play in behind your opponents to score a goal. We've relied on it in the past with Scholes, but have not really replaced those goals from outside the box and all.
Aston Villa provide the opposition on Sunday this week. It doesn't need stating that we need those points more than a vampire needs blood. But again, we've needed the past 6 just as bad and look what United served up.....
Labels: MANCHESTER UNITED