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United Surrender Proud Home Record

OK, I don't try to hide it: this game's been a big disappointment. After a reasonably good first half United fell to pieces in the second and never looked like building up a head of steam - and ended up losing against a desperately limited Besiktas side. This is our first home defeat in the Champions League group stages since 2001; this is our first home defeat in the competition since 2005 when Milan won here after an excruciatingly composed performance.

OK, there are mitigating circumstances of course. It was a very unfamiliar line-up with lost of youngsters; the game was practically a dead rubber as our qualification was secure. And yet it was disappointing that we could not assert ourselves against the Turkish side, that we could not make anything of all the possession in the world.

First place in the group is in peril but looking at the potential opponents it might not matter: finishing first we could still play Juventus, Inter, Milan or even Barcelona or Real Madrid, depending on the results of the last game. So the actual damage done to our chances is very little, especially as we're likely to finish top anyway (if CSKA beat Besiktas we'll win the group even with a loss at Wolfsburg).

Yet the first half was so promising; only a goal was absent but we were utterly dominant and though the closing down was absurdly bad, non-existent almost, at Tello's goal, we could be pleased with the youngsters. Gibson was very wayward in his passing but he was tremendous at retrieving the ball; Macheda and Welbeck worked tirelessly and got into very good positions; Obertan showed plenty of promise, displaying pace and skill.

We all expected more of the same in the second half, preferably with a goal or two thrown in to ensure top spot in the group but, as I have said, United fell to pieces. We could not string two passes together, we could not get the ball inside the box, we could not get shots on target - NOTHING. It was excruciating, to be honest.

I think Fergie made a mistake. Bringing on Owen first made no sense whatsoever: what did he expect of him? Our passing wasn't working at all, we could not get past a line about 25 yards from goal - how was Owen supposed to change that? I guess Park was taken off as he had just returned from injury and had been tired by that time. Which is OK; but why bring on a striker who could make no difference without proper service from midfield? Welbeck was shunted out onto the left where he is competent but by no means great: it deprived the team of that little balance left.

It would have been a better bet to take Gibson off earlier (around the 60th minute mark) and introduce either Scholes or Carrick, in order to gain a measure of control and to improve our passing. Take off Park, all right but send on Nani or even Evra to play left winger, not Welbeck...

When Fergie DID introduce Carrick and Evra it was too little, too late. Granted, we should have had a penalty when Pat was obstructed in the box and Macheda and Brown could both have equalised in the closing minutes but for two fantastic saves from Rustu but in fairness we never looked like scoring.

No long-term conclusions need to be drawn from this, of course. Apart from one, maybe: Rafael is not a left-back and he looked desperately out of depth there. Not everyone is Dennis Irwin, you know. And though Darron Gibson is a good little player he's unlikely to ever reach the standard required at United; at his age, the then much-maligned Fletcher played 30 games a season.

However, Obertan certainly looks very promising; Welbeck and Macheda definitely have a chance of making it even though they visibly ran out of ideas and consequently of confidence in the second half. That's about it. I am honestly not sure if I prefer to win the group or to finish second; although winning the group would ensure we play the second leg of the first knockout round at Old Trafford. That just about tips the balance towards first. So, apart from surrendering that proud home record, we can also regret passing up the chance of wrapping up first place.




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The Journalist

Writer: Zae Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Thursday November 26 2009

Time: 12:52PM

Your Comments

sorry to come on here and go off topic, but i have sent you an email Zae, can you reply when you get it - if you do not get it can you contact me through vital pompey. cheers!
pompeyrug
Pompeyrug, no matter, this place is filled with TUMBLEWEED! :-) And bad game, fellas.
JT_daniel
The kids just looked more and more desperate as the minutes ticked by, hope they learn from it! On the plus side Obertan looks like he will make an impact for us as the season goes on. If only we hadn't sold Dong!
Tosswink
Anderson was utter rubbish and rafael wasn't that bad atleast he made a few good runs.However he did get caught out and was in a way responsible as well for turning his back when tello shot at goal,it reminded me of giovanni's goal against us.
Antriksh (abmtd)
Completely agree with Zae about the need to take Gibson off earlier. I know it would have knocked his confidence but it was clear that he should have gone off after 10-15 mins of the 2nd half. Him and Anderson didn't work well together as neither was sure of their role. Both need a more experienced partner to help them out positionally. Anderson looked lost and bewildered at times, but when he gets on the ball he is still one of the only players we have who can drive the team forward. I thought Welbeck looked great in the first half - if he doesnt make it someone at united has done him a real disservice. Macheda, I think, needs to reapply himself. He can't let the hype affect his dedication as he hasnt done anything in the game yet. Obertan has the pace, skills and work ethic to go far. If he can apply himself to improving his weaknesses like cristiano did he will be one hell of a player - how does GO7 sound? :)
tuscan3000
Absolutely delighted to see united's "future" looking so rosy.
fifthcolumnblue
Not too bad tuscan3000.By the way where were u for so long mate?
Antriksh (abmtd)
i never got a reply to my email sadly...
pompeyrug
Looks like we will have to start that lovely record all over again.
One United 92
Yeah, that will take some time. tuscan3000: Are you sure there's any problem with Macheda's attitude? I mean he worked his socks off on Wednesday night and he was one of our best players against CSKA... He's very raw but for me his attitude is good enough on the pitch.
Zae
 

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