Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Thoughts on Manchester United 1 - 2 Real Madrid

If I had written anything last night about the game, it would have been with fury, anger and probably made no sense. I've woken up this morning with the same feeling I figured Barcelona fans had after the AC Milan game - it's like a bad hangover, waking up and realizing what the f*ck just happened (want to share a drink Barca fans to drown our sorrows together?). I'll put some points that you might not agree with, so feel free to discuss (in no particular order):

  • To begin with, United's line-up at the start was the correct one. Up until the red card, that was probably the most disciplined United performance I have seen in a longtime. Compact, composed, making no room for errors, closing down players quickly, but we'll never know if United could have held on for a win at 11 vs 11. That wasn't parking the bus. That was disciplined football at its best. Typical counter-attacking United whenever the chance came about with Welbeck being the closing down the dangerous Xabi Alonso. Every player on the pitch knew what he had to do. It was flawless stuff for 60 minutes.

  • The decision not to include Rooney was a highly risky one. It's not that any of the other players had a bad game, but in the biggest game of the season with the whole world watching, you want your best players playing and Wayne Rooney would have been an additional headache for Madrid if he had started. But Fergie knows better than all of us and until the red card, the decision was being justified.

  • When a team is capable of beating Barcelona twice in one week (at home & away) and then they go on to beat Manchester United (away), you've got to give them credit for that. Real Madrid's season is finally looking alive again.

  • Ryan Giggs was phenomenal. Before and after the red, it is incredible to believe that this guy was playing his 1,000th professional game. It is absolutely unbelievable and he was inspirational throughout. I hope that the non-United fans also appreciate that. Both going forward and defending, he was a beast. Legend.

  • Sergio Ramos' own goal was as much unfortunate defending as it was down to Nani creating something out of what looked like a lost cause. The timing couldn't have been better and United were in the clear ascendancy at that stage.

  • During the entire first half, United made sure that Ronaldo was nowhere to be seen. He had done nothing of note in that first half and it seemed like emotions were discreetly getting the better of him. But in the second half that all changed. His goal and celebration typified the man. His awareness, sharpness and speed of thought to get into such a position where most players would consider it a lost ball is just another example of why he's a level above the rest. He scored in the first leg and the second leg, yet both times he refused to celebrate. It was a burning spear for United fans to see that the monster the club created was now coming back to haunt them. He showed respect to United's fans, players and the club as a whole over the 2 legs. Some United fans still hate him, I certainly don't. He barely put on a smile throughout the game despite the win and the goal. You can hate him all you want, but you've got to respect him.

  • Luka Modric's was top class. His goal was top class. He made the difference for Madrid after coming on as a sub. However, from a United point of view, I think some homework wasn't done. When Luka Modric got the ball before his shot, he took one touch, a second touch and then fired the rocket. But following the first touch, Michael Carrick committed himself way too easily and if he had done his homework he (and anyone who's watched Modric for a few years) would know that Modric doesn't take a shot from outside the box unless his has a good run-up before it. What I'm trying to say is that following the first touch, if Carrick held his ground and closed Modric down sensibly, rather than committing himself, then he wouldn't have gotten the space that the second touch allowed him to have for the shot. Nevertheless, it was an absolutely brilliant goal that will live long in the memory of Madrid fans.

  • The passing and movement for Real Madrid's second goal was the stuff of high quality football. Particularly that Ozil touch.

  • The Red Card. I cannot, for one second, understand how it happened. In normal circumstances, a high foot means a red card no matter what happens. But that's not what's bothering me. First of all, the ball was in the air and Nani's eyes were fully on it. He didn't even look back for one second to see if a challenger was coming (that's a mistake on his behalf by the way) and he went up fairly to bring the ball down. Arbeloa comes flying in fairly to intercept the ball. That is a 50-50 challenge. Nothing in this world can convince me otherwise (De Jong's kung fu kick in the World Cup final only got him a yellow). Second of all, and this is what really irks me, if that's a real red card, then it should be given immediately. But that wasn't the case. There were very, very, minor complaints from anyone when the foul happened. And the referee actually took his time, waiting for the medics to come on and then gave the red card! If it's a red card offence, then the decision should be instantly! Hard tackle, bam, red card. High foot, bam, red card. Hard challenge, wait for the players to get back up and chill, then red card? It doesn't make sense. It was a yellow card offence at most and the referee made a mess of it. For anyone saying it is a red card after seeing the replay, just remember the referee doesn't have the benefits of a replay and has to make an instant decision. In this case, he took his time (he should've been offered Turkish coffee while waiting) and then made his decision. We've seen thousands of angles, the referee only had one.

  • The immediate reaction by Mourinho for the red card was what changed the game. Taking off Arbeloa and bringing on another midfielder to cram United up is what created the two goals. Mourinho saw the dead space and knew it was there for the taking. He did it. The midfield was packed, Madrid were bombarding United, who were now on the back foot. The game had an element of what United felt in that 6-1 loss to City in the sense that following a red card, the players seemed to be overcrowded and the away side had more creative numbers that could damage United. Real Madrid were ruthless at this stage. So having scored two, what does Mourinho do next to completely destroy United...

  • In a quite remarkable move, Mourinho took off Ozil and brought on Pepe to revert back to their initial formation. It was a very strange move. If they had continued at the pace they were at, Madrid would have scored more. Once Ozil went off, United gained momentum again and look threatening despite being down to 10 men. The switch of formation after the second goal invited United to attack more and if it weren't for the great performance by Diego Lopez, United would probably have scored a goal or two in the last 20 minutes.

  • A friend of mine who supports Real Madrid sent me a message at half-time asking what I thought about the game at that point. My response was "if United are playing that good as they are at the moment and haven't scored yet, it's a bad sign". United should have taken advantage of the first half dominance and seen off a few chances.

  • The United fans, players and managers were frustrated. But seeing Rio Ferdinand go and clap to the referee's face is not something any footballer should do. The referee made a proper mess of the entire thing and tempers were rising. Voicing your anger is one thing, clapping in his face is another. I wouldn't be surprised if UEFA charged Rio for that. It was an immature reaction from one of United's best performers on the night.

  • The conclusion of the game is that United were hard done by. The referee ruined what was turning out to be one of the most intriguing clashes this season. It was an injustice. Absolutely nobody can disagree with that. Even Real Madrid fans know that the red card changed the game. That decision tilted the entire game which seemed to be going United's way. But that's football and United fans should take a lot of pride from the performance, as it's always better to go down fighting rather than to give up. United were resilient despite the situation. As for Madrid, it'll be interesting to see who they play next, but the limited celebrations spoke volumes about what happened. They know. I do think Mourinho's men are going to go all the way to the final now.

  • The post-match interviews added to the drama of the whole thing. Mourinho claiming "the best team lost" can be considered as a touch of class on his behalf or part of his job interview for the Old Trafford hotseat (i.e. kissing the behind of everything that is red until he gets there...which won't happen). Whereas Ferguson refusing to come out for the press conference was, well, a bit expected. Though I think I'm not alone in saying we were all waiting to hear what he had to say and the next few days will be interesting.

  • English football's hopes in the Champions League lie with Arsenal scoring 3 in Munich. Yes, and there is now free treatment for balding men in the world (sense the tone, neither are going to happen). No English clubs left in the Champions League in the Quarter-Finals tells its own story.


  1. hahahahaha love the sarcasm in the last point.
    as for the fact that madrid will go all the way to the final ... highly questionable ... Dortmund And Bayern will be two different beasts , don't get me wrong but Bastian Schweinsteiger and Javi Martinez in midfield is a class above Carrick and Tom cleverley. they would easily shut down Alonso and Khedira.

  2. I think the last sentence is a little bit harsh.
    1 english team was out of the death group in the group round
    The other was the title holder who made a mess out of its early season
    and the other two exited the competition against the two form teams in europe
    Getting three over shaktar cannot even be compared to losing because of a referee mistake against real by 1 goal over two legs
    This is the situation this year which can always happen, but when you think that italians lost their fourth allocated spot in the CL to germany, that would be called crisis in italian football.
    Luckily english football is still quite far from that (it doesn't mean there are no other problems in english football)

  3. Typical Man U reaction to another embarrassing European night

    1. What's typical in anything I've written Mr. Anonymous? Is there anything in there that isn't fair? Learn to read my friend, before making judgements based on your pre-conceived ideas.

  4. I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do because I notice it always coincides with their own desires.