Friday, May 29, 2009

United's bad hair day

I happen to be one of those fellows who during our puberty we idolized people like Dwight Yorke, Andy Cole, Teddy Sheringham, Ole Gunnar and a myriad of other football stars who had one thing in common. They played for the one ultimate club, Man Utd. I fell in love with United's way of playing football about 12 years, when again, as I already mentioned, I was a budding teenager.

More than a decade later, I still pledge my allegiance to the Devil team. The current United squad is admirable by any standard, with the likes of CR, Rooney, Vidic (Guardiola wants that guy!), Rio etc being outstanding and having stood up to be counted on occasions I can barely count. This particular season, United, though not at its best, has produced results that have left other clubs in the English Premier League looking like minnows. Their UEFA champion League performances have been something to decipher, with mouth water football having kept them lossless for 25 games, since 2007.

Did I mention Champions League. Yes, I did. United, relentless in this campaign and out to defend the title they won in 2008, they fought their way to the finals in the eternal city, including a footballing lesson to the London boohoo boys, Arsenal in the semis. Their final huddle was now to win in Rome, and enter the history books as the only team to retain the coveted trophy. Their only Kisiki, Barcelona, Spain's newly crowned champions.

I was looking forward to a scintillating final between the two sides. Was I in for a shock.

When Ferguson, United's ultimate and glorified gaffer fielded his team, I was a little disappointed. Barca has their regular full backs suspended, and had some wonnabes to replace them. Instead of Ferguson selecting a strong team to exploit these weaknesses, he put out CR as the only attacker, while Rooney and Park were the flankers in the midfield. In the middle was Giggs, Anderson and Carrick. I knew that was it, it was going to be a really tough game for United. Fergie had put emphasis in the middle of the field (actually, not quite), while Barca is known to run a midfield that will bidazzle any player to his knees.

All in all, it was a poor show for united, as they went on to lose 2-0 to the Barca men who really did dominate the midfield, with United not really knowing to do with the ball whenever they had it. I believe that's an invaluable lesson for the now second best team in the world. Exploit the weaknesses of the opponent, especially if you are well placed to do so.

Tactics were all wrong. Playing a game of counter attack, against the usual open game that United keep playing was a mistake. Because Barca played a defensive game, at least by their standards, and once the got their first goal in the 10th minute, they were held pretty and had their offensive arsenal run united rugged, while the midfielders and defenders were very alert and scuffled any united threat.

I'm a staunch supporter, but Fergie, yenyewe, you need to be a little more tactful against attacking teams next time. You'd rather just defend completely with 10 players behind the ball, than opt for some trial team not sure how to play.

And that, my friend, I call eating humble pie.

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