Wayne Rooney has rejected accuses that he dived to get Bastian Schweinsteiger sent off in the closing stages of the first leg of Manchester United’s Champions League quarter final against Bayern Munich.
The Munich midfield, who had scored his side’s equaliser eight minutes after Nemanja Vidic had put United ahead, earned himself a second yellow card when he lunged at Rooney only a couple of yards outside the Reds’ penalty box, prompting referee Carlos Velasco to send him off.
He was bought for a price tag that exceeded his reputation. When David Moyes did finally confirm the signing of Belgian international Marouane Fellani nobody at Manchester United was quite sure what to expect, however the universal consensus was that it was a ‘desperate signing’. The price tag of £27.5 million was one no other club in the footballing universe would have paid for his services and Fellani himself has been justifying that recently, with a string of uninspiring (to put it lightly) performances.
With a huge rice tag to live up to and even bigger voids to fill Marouane Fellani was never going to find it easy going at Old Trafford. Injuries made his daunting task even tougher. His first Premier League appearance in a Manchester United jersey came away against Norwich. He looked lethargic and failed to impose himself on the game. To put it in short, he failed to impress.
United went into last night’s game against Bayern Munich widely expected to be not only beaten but thoroughly humiliated, given the gulf in quality between the two sides. After a plucky effort, however, United remain in the tie and while a 1-1 draw places Bayern in the driving seat, it’s a lot better than what many of us would have expected.
Here’s five things we have learnt last night.
In recent weeks and months, the mere suggestion of getting behind David Moyes, or even backing one solitary decision of his, has been fervently jumped on by certain sections of the United faithful like wild dogs. It’s almost like every good thing to happen to United this season (granted there haven’t been many) has been nothing to do with the manager at all.
There’s an old saying in football that players get positive results and managers get negative ones.
“So come on David Moyes, play like Fergie’s boys” went the chant that we loudly belted out earlier this season.
Tonight, play like Fergie’s boys United did not – in fact they haven’t done so for about nine months now – but they still managed to secure a result that gives them a chance ahead of the second leg and showed that when it matters, United, regardless of whoever is in charge, can still put up a fight against Europe’s finest.
David Moyes could suffer a sever backlash from Manchester United fans if, has it has widely been reported today, he decides to bring Ryan Giggs’ career at Old Trafford to an end after 23 years and 961 appearances in a red shirt.
Rumours that Giggs and Moyes do not see eye-to-eye and that the former has become disillusioned with the latter’s methods in training and with his tactical approach have grown louder in recent weeks, despite Giggs’ swift denial in yesterday’s press conference of any rift existing between him and his manager.
The last time Bayern Munich traveled to Old Trafford, they found themselves 3-0 down in less than 20 minutes, only to claw their way back into the game thanks, in no small part, to Rafael’s sending off, before Arjen Robben’s wonder strike ensured they’d progress to the semifinal.
Such heroics are not likely to be needed tonight, when the German and European champions face United in what is arguably the most unbalanced of the four quarter finals and will likely prove to be the Reds’ last Champions League at Old Trafford for who knows how long.
Pep Guardiola has warned David Moyes that failure to win at a big club is intolerable and that managers must deal with the pressure that comes with managing a club like Manchester United and deliver trophies, or else they risk losing their job even if they’ve only been in charge for a year.
The difference between United and Bayern Munich couldn’t be more evident. The former have endured a tumultuous season after Moyes replaced Sir Alex Ferguson and the Champions League is virtually the only thing they’ve got left to play for, while the latter have already clinched the Bundesliga title and aim to become the first club to retain the Champions League under the tutelage of the former Barca manager, who replaced Jupp Heynckes last summer.