As a Manchester native – although with little affection for either the red or blue half of the City – last night was still shocking and sad to witness. The sound of a pin could be heard in the City after the respective full time whistles had blown, and the customary jokes began doing the rounds on twitter – Manchester releasing Channel number 5 perfume in time for Christmas being the best of the bunch – but on a more serious note, do either side need to panic now?
From a City point of view – quite simply no. They do not, top of the Premier League and in the Carling Cup semi, they are progressing well, and were in the group of death becoming the first team since Bremen in 2005/2006 not to qualify second with a total of ten points. Trophies are to come for City this season, and next year that extra experience will serve them well in the Europe.
It is United who will draw most of the criticism and the inevitable ‘crisis’ talk. How the media must have been panicking when AVB’s Chelsea finished top of their group and beat Newcastle previous to that – who would they use as their ‘team imploding’ now?
Cue Fergie and United to willingly step up to the plate, with not just last night’s performance in Europe, but throughout the whole campaign. Frankly, they were in a straight forward group and failed to do the job on any occasion. A 3-3 home draw and an away defeat to Basel and they don’t deserve their place amongst Europe’s elite.
I am not willing to even entertain the notion of it being ‘Fergie’s time to go’ or that United are a poor side – they are not. Think back to the last time they failed to get out of the group with Benfica being their final conquerors this time, and Fergie responded accordingly, using that season to rebuild and go on to rule Europe and the Premier League after Chelsea dominance.
It is this that we will see happen again, yet it is doubtful if multiple signings are needed in the January window – for one reason prices are inflated and panic buying is never advisable – and also the fact of the matter is players like Jones, Smalling and Young are inexperienced and have the quality to become United players and rise to the big occasions – this season may have been just one too soon.
Even when looking at young David De Gea, there is masses of potential there, and the criticism has been harsh on the Spaniard, with time being needed to really develop into the player he can.
One thing United are in dire need of is a spark in midfield. Yes, Cleverley looked brilliant before injury but he cannot be expected to be a ‘big name player’ so soon and so young. Fergie may well regret not pushing harder to sign Sneijder this summer with the player certain to stay at Inter until at least the summer – after all they can offer Champions League football – and the quality of Basel’s creative midfielder Shaqiri will not have gone unnoticed by Fergie.
A creative, world class midfielder is something that United have to break the bank for, yet how much will be available to them in January now after such a costly exit from the Champions League is doubtful, and it may have to wait until the summer for such a big money signing to be made.
The fact of the matter is no team can win everything all the time, and yes it is such a let-down for the fans to crash and burn before Christmas, but United will come back, as they have done multiple times in the past, probably better and stronger than before. At least now they can get revenge on Barcelona in next year’s Super Cup final – every cloud and all that!
Written by Rebecca Knight for FootballFancast.com.
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