Gary Neville insisted that United players are more at risk of facing the chop than David Moyes after a dismal campaign reached its nadir against Olympiacos on Tuesday night, leaving United on the brink of being knocked out of the Champions League, the only competition which could rescue their shambolic season.
Neville remains confident that the United hierarchy will stand by their manager for the remainder of the season and will also back him financially in the transfer window, but while he insisted that a few players could see their United careers coming to an abrupt end, Neville conceded that at another club “Moyes would be in a lot more trouble”.
Amid the different reactions to Tuesday’s shambolic defeat in Athens, there was a common theme to be found in the feelings United generated – and have generated throughout the season – for the way the result arrived – more than the result itself in fact – sparked an array of different emotions: from disgust to indignation, from anger to shock.
The one feeling that was almost never mentioned, however, was the one we as fans, have been desperate for this season: relief.
Robin Van Persie is considering his Manchester United future, according to reports that suggest the Dutchman has been left disillusioned with life at Old Trafford after Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure and was reeling after Tuesday’s abysmal 2-0 defeat against Olympiacos in the first leg of the Champions League round of 16.
RVP, who has no release clause in his contract, has endured a difficult season, with fitness problems hampering his campaign after a superb first 12 months at Old Trafford during which he proved the catalyst for United’s 20th league title, but the Dutchman has found life hard under David Moyes who was accused of “overtraining” the former Arsenal player.
Not too long ago, I was offered the opportunity to write an article discussing the present situation with our beloved – former great – Manchester United. At the time I turned the chance down but, with the caveat that when I felt United had finally reached rock bottom and I reach my Vesuvius point of eruption, I would put pen to paper and rant my bloody spleen out.
Well guess what? That day has arrived.
In all likelihood, this was going to be one of United’s last ever away trip in the Champions League for a couple of seasons and United ensured it was a night we’ll not forget in a long time, even though most of us will hope to wake up tomorrow to the news that tonight never happened, that it was all a nightmare.
Forget the disgracefully wrong tactics, forget the ineptitude that has reigned supreme for months in different areas of the pitch, forget about the horribly dire football we’ve been treated to in almost every game this season, forget even about the fact that this tie and United’s Champions League are as good as over, the players wearing the Manchester United shirt tonight ought to be ashamed of themselves.
And so onto Greece, for what’s likely to be one of United’s last Champions League ties for a while, definitely at least until the 2015-16 season and definitely the last the Reds can reasonably be considered favourites for this season, given that Thursdays are increasingly likely to become the new Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
Fate was kind towards David Moyes and his men and while United’s 19-season spell in the Champions League coming to an end, the draw offers the Reds the best possible chance to advance to the quarter finals for the first time since 2010-11, for Olympiacos, with all due respect, shouldn’t cause too many concerns to United, not over two legs anyway.
Having gone three games without a win, perhaps the FA Cup break benefited United, or perhaps Palace were simply not good enough to cope with the mighty Marouane Fellaini (this, by the way, is a sarcastic remark).
Whatever the reason, United’s first visit at Selhurst Park since 2005 was one to remember, as the result topped off a day of jolly drinking, one during which Eric Cantona masks were as common a sight in the away end as inflatable bananas are among City fans.
The news had been in the air for weeks, but it is now official: Wayne Rooney has put pen to paper on a new five-year deal with Manchester United, which will keep him at Old Trafford until 2019, when the striker will be 33-year-old and will have been at Old Trafford for 15 seasons.
Less than a year after falling out with Sir Alex Ferguson and declaring to be feeling “angry at confused” at the treatment received by the club and just three years after questioning the club’s ambition, Rooney is set to pocket a staggering £300,000-a-week for the next five seasons.