Thursday, December 08, 2005

Look out, Chelsea!

So we are out of the champions league.

It's not the end of the world. Manchester United have encountered disaster before, and this is decidedly not in that league.

Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs both appeared to my untrained eye to be off the pace yesterday; Ruud and Rooney struggled to get involved, and while Ronaldo produced a couple of great runs and dribbles, he was clearly overwhelmed by the occasion. One positive that I certainly took away was the hurt that Rooney and Ronaldo felt. They wanted this, and while they couldn't make it happen on the night, that's the desire that will fuel the future of Manchester United.

At the end of the day though, when your two wingers, your front two, and your captain aren't having their best days, it's not going to be easy. That aside, the one thing that really frustrates me as a fan, is the quality of our passing. I lost count of the number of balls that were played into empty spaces, or directly to opposition feet - and that's not the first time this has happened of late.

Our performances in Europe were not up to scratch, plain and simple. I'm shattered by the situation, of course, but you have to keep it in perspective. A lot of fans, particularly those who are recent inductees to the faith, live in a fantasy world in which success is apparently an entitlement. It's not. We've had a tremendous run, and now we're rebuilding. It happens - to the best of teams.

I'm not suggesting we should be happy, merely that we should not lose the plot. I've seen people calling for everyone from Ruud to Gary Neville to be sacked after last night - for some reason only van der Sar is exempt from criticism it appears. The truth is, as always, somewhere in between.

The performance was poor, without a doubt - but give some credit to Benfica there as well, painful as it may be to do so. There is in fact a silver lining in this cloud - we'll soon see who the real fans and supporters are, as the bandwagon jumpers start decking themselves out in the blue of Chelsea.

Who knows - perhaps this is the platform we need to have a real go at Chelsea in the league?

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