Writer: Site Staff
Date:Thursday April 9 2009
John Barnes, pundit for the New Football Pools says Manchester United were fortuniate to get a draw v Porto.
'I thought Manchester United were very fortunate on Tuesday night to get a draw from their Champions League, quarter-final, 1st leg with Porto. They Portuguese champions played excellently on the night and could easily have won the game. Now United have to travel to Porto and either draw 3-3 or more or win there. Now Sir Alex`s side are more than capable of winning at the Estadio do Dragao but no other English club has managed to win there, so United have their work cut out to progress now.
It does look as though the long season is catching up with United at the moment which has come at a pivotal time. I know from experience that competing on a number of fronts is always difficult to maintain and for the team to keep their focus and intensity for the remaining Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup games was always going to be difficult.
It may be a case that Sir Alex may have to prioritise certain matches in order to win the remaining trophies. If they try too hard to win all 3 then they could end up with just one trophy or maybe none at all. I do see United winning at least one more trophy but to win the lot may be beyond them on current form and fitness.
To maintain the intensity to win a quintuple is tougher than people can understand and this has shown in recent matches against Inter, Liverpool, Fulham, Aston Villa and now Porto. The players look a bit mentally and physically tired which has resulted in some lacklustre displays. The level of performance has not been as intense as it was which is to be expected once confidence has been affected. The recent slump has surprised me as United looked irresistible up until the Inter game but they were always going to struggle to keep up that kind of form especially now Liverpool have picked up the pace.
Defensively United don`t look very solid at the moment but with the number of injuries and suspensions they`ve had to deal with, that has to be expected. The constant changes at the back particularly when Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand are missing are always going to affect the team. An example of the changes is the fact Gary Neville has hardly featured this season but came in against Villa and Porto which is a tough ask for him and for those players around him.
Praise must go to Porto who were particularly impressive on the night and looked dangerous throughout. Sir Alex said he expected them to be attacking and they certainly were. I don`t think it was a case of United underestimating the Portuguese champions, though that was probably the case in terms of the media and the fans.
As a nation we believe we are the best particularly when our English sides go up against teams from lesser leagues. However, the advantage some of those teams have is that they dominate their own leagues so much that they can afford to rest players and prioritise European games.
Porto are the Portuguese champions and topped their qualifying group so are not novices and they showed it. Saying that, although it is a difficult task facing United in the 2nd leg, it wouldn`t surprise me in the slightest if they did get a result. After all, they are a top side with top players so anything is possible.'
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Date:Thursday April 9 2009
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