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.
Ryan Giggs has denied any rift with David Moyes, but has admitted he could leave the club at the end of the season, after admitting that he’ll have to consider his options when the current campaign comes to an end.
Rumours of Giggs growing increasingly disillusioned with Moyes’ methods and approach to training have been widely reported over the last couple of weeks, with the Welshman so unimpressed by his manager’s tactics and training drills that he has, allegedly, stopped attending coaches meeting as “Moyes doesn’t f*****g listen anyway”.
Having delivered their finest performance in the David Moyes’ era – even though, admittedly, that’s not saying much – against Olympiakos, Manchester United enter their first Champions League quarter final since 2011 knowing full well that tomorrow’s game could be the last time Old Trafford host a European Cup game for a while.
Quite how long we’ll have to wait to see United playing in Europe’s elite competition at home is anybody’s guess but it’s perhaps fitting that United will bid farewell to the Champions League by hosting Bayern Munich, the current champions of Europe who are aiming to become the first side to retain the trophy.
We might wave goodbye to the European Cup over the next 10 days, so here’s a list of the top 5 five Champions League quarter finals Old Trafford has seen.