Following Manchester United’s emphatic victory over Schalke last night, amidst all of the coverage and punditry I noticed one thing that wasn’t forthcoming for various media outlets.
After Schalke’s elimination of Inter Milan in the quarter finals of the Champions League, people began talking them up as dark horses in the competition. With German World Cup star Manuel Neuer in goal and former Real Madrid demi God Raul at the other end of the pitch putting them past keepers, their chances of beating Manchester United were being touted by all and sundry.
Obviously they had just knocked out the holders of the Cup and were coming up against an ‘ordinary’ Manchester United team so why not back them at 3-1 as Corals were offering?
After the 90 minutes had been played in Veltins Arena all of a sudden these dark horses had become asses. United outplayed them at every turn and whilst the score line said it was 2-0, had it not been for Neuer we could have racked up a score that would have allowed us to play our under 16s in the next leg and still qualify. The scoreline says 2-0 but the mental beating we handed out was way bigger as we completely neutralised them as any kind of threat in the game. They themselves acknowledged it as Metzelder told Sky Italia:
“Against Inter everything we tried worked. Against United we couldn’t even try anything.”
For anyone who watched it, it didn’t have the feeling of a Champions League semi final rather a pre season friendly against a lesser side. And this is against the team that had handily flogged the Champions in the last round.
So why was everyone quick to talk down Schalke rather than talk up United?
I’ll never understand why people have been so reluctant to praise Manchester United this season. The disparaging comments made about this side at the start of the season were annoying to say the least. As the season progressed it was more of the same but why?
The team is constantly downplayed when compared to teams of old. We as fans do it ourselves and when it was still possible, various people stated it would be somewhat of a knock to the team of 1999 if this rag tag band could emulate their achievement of doing the treble.
When it didn’t happen and we lost to Man City in the FA Cup the detractors came out in full force claiming the team wasn’t good enough to complete such a huge feat. Whilst I have got used to this it will always irk me when I see it. Following our defeats to Chelsea and Liverpool in the league there was the same outpouring, this team isn’t good enough.
I will always be offended by people saying this league has been the weakest and United are just lucky to have been the team to capitalise. Do the people saying this not realise that we too are also cruising? The talk of us capitalising on the weakness of teams around us is insulting. This is Manchester United being spoken of, it isn’t as if we are Spurs or Everton sneaking up and stealing our position in the league, it is because we are a team equipped to win unlike the eternal youngsters at Arsenal or Abramovich’s (note I said Abramovich and not Ancelotti) pitch patch team at Stamford Bridge.
But they won’t tell you that, they’ll say that we are lucky to get the late goals that are ingrained into the club or that the team lacks flair when we grind out a win in a game that for all their beautiful football Arsenal would have dropped points in.
Looking back at the Schalke game I saw someone declare the performance as our most complete 90 minutes this season, whilst I haven’t sat here and thought of every game we played this term it isn’t a crazy claim. For all the talk of Schalke being poor, they were poor because we made them so.
In boxing we are always warned of letting our opponent getting into a rhythm and are trained to do a number of things to stop this from happening from changing stance to fighting on the inside/outside or a number of other things. Tonight we didn’t let Schalke get into their rhythm and when they threatened to do so we employed one of these tactics to stop them from doing so. There was little to no feeling out period as there is to be expected in a European tie of such magnitude. Instead we asserted our dominance over a team that is, and no disrespect is meant by this, inferior in every aspect of the term to us.
This was their first semi final but our 4th in 5 years and we treated the tie as such as we went about imposing ourselves on them on their own ground. Yet rather than it being a case of United being that good it was spun as a weak side capitulating on the big stage.
We’ve beaten a number of big teams this season and very little praise has been offered up. If we win the league people will talk of it being a weak season, Chelsea and Arsenal faltering and will remember our away day woes rather than the fact we have been so imperious at home and have beaten everyone put in front of us. In Europe they will continue to laud the big two from Spain and neglect to praise our performances, conceding just 3 times in the competition this season or the fact we remain undefeated like Real Madrid.
The praise won’t come, it will continue to annoy me but I think the trophies we win will be a far better testimony to how good we are than anything any journalist can conjure up.
It was a job well done for United at Germany…. Great to see Ryan hitting such heights in his career. However there are some concern of that since the return of Antonio Valencia, Nani has been dropped to the bench in Champion League games. Which would be frustrating for him as he was the main source of goals in the league but Fergie would prefer Valencia on the right wing. Not to say that Valencia is not good but he doesn’t offer the dimension of running at players that frequent but rather more of crossing to the box but Nani offers d other dimension of attacking players. I don’t it’s quite fair for Nani 2 be on the bench for CL games n becomes 1st choice in PL games… This weekends games would again sees Nani on the bench at Emirates as Fergie would goes with Park on d left wing n Valencia on d right wing.
A point to note is that Valencia didn’t actually perform that well in big games too for instance the FA Cup match against City which we lost of course. He was a mere passenger in the game but still he was rewarded with starts in the CL games…… Injustice smells……..
Spot on – have been saying the same all year
The team is “energy smart” physically and mentally. “X ” factor is on our side
Do not count chickens yet though – Sunday will tell a big tale
Oh please. I’ve been watching United play since the late 60’s, and this season has to be, hands down, one of the poorest I’ve seen in over forty years. Reflected in this is the winning points total for United should they take it out – it will probably be in the region of 80 – 81 points, which is abysmal.
United’s form away from home has been awful, they have been routinely pedestrian at home, and can only point to a handful of games all season in which it could be said that they stamped themselves as the United we have all come to know and respect through the years. Interestingly, Berbatov featured on most of those games, but has been given short shrift by a manager who has stuck by his bastard child Rooney through thick and thin, even mouthing the hypocrisy of claiming the Bulgarian had lost his spot purely on better form elsewhere (namely Hernandez) – so where was the form guide earlier when Berbatov was the form striker of the EPL while Rooney went month after month playing like garbage yet continued to get selected, even as the sole striker in the 4-5-1 or 4-3-3formations Fergie likes to play in the big games.
Reno i think Ferie is just resting Nani,Nani have been playing all season and might need some rest,where as park and Valencia is fester,Nani has been our best player this season.I think he’s just getting a rest there is nothing to it.
As a lifelong United fan:
I actually couldn’t agree more with absolutely EVERYTHING that was said. Even though this season has been flawed with poor performances away from home; we’ve still led our position at the top quite comfortably since December.
We, as a club, deserve more praise and recognition for our better performances (not to mention, our dominance over the past 2 decades), but yet, it remains that Man Utd will not receive such acknowledgement.
Everyone has stated that United have not been the same since Ronaldo and Tevez left, and I can somwhat agree with this. We’ve not provided the same attacking flair as we did in recent seasons. Every United team will be compared to the Treble winning side of ’99 until we reach that feat again, or even surpass it. If not, we’d need to prove all the critics wrong, especially the likes of FIFA!
The main thing that irks me is that Man Utd are still NOT being recognised as being a ‘proper’ football club (despite our continuous dominance) by anyone to do with FIFA and the FA. We’re constantly getting screwed by officials, and yet, we’re still being criticised.
Tonight’s performance was insane, and we commanded the game right from the start. Carrick and Giggs bossed the Centre Midfield with Park and Valencia bossing the flanks. Ferdinand and Vidic we’re solid as always and Fabio, after his performance tonight, is starting to show why him and Rafael were brought in. Rooney and Hernandez were free-flowing and every aspect of the game was United’s.
The scoreline was not a great reflection of the dominance, but I’m sure that if we play at OT just as we did tonight, and take that to Wembeley, the CL is our’s for the taking (no matter who we face).
Timbo – 80/81 points is abysmal, is it? That treble-winning team must have been absolute dross then…
I think Valencia should definitely get the start in big games ahead of Nani, he’s much more consistent in general and offers much more defensively. Nani’s has been awesome at times this season and we’d be nowhere without his imnpact but his form hasn’t been that good last few games, back to his frustrating worst, he’s great to have as an impact substitute and that’s what I reckon he’ll be at wembley. It shows the strength of the united squad that Nani and Berbatov with the top assists and top goals this season can’t get in the team. United don’t have the swashbuckling syle of old but with a 3rd CL final in 4 years almost there it’s probably for the best.
Timbo, I doubt many on this site can claim to have watched United as long as you have, but c’mon, the worst in 40 years?!? I won’t claim this is one of the best sides ever, but it’s surely stronger than a good number of them. The very fact we’re likely due to be in the CL final is proof of this side’s quality and no one can say it’s only a poor League that makes us look good. Speaking of which, do you ever watch retro EPL games from even 15 years ago? United were certainly a majestic side, but the teams in the bottom half of the League then are indistinguishable in quality from present League 1 sides. There is far more quality and investment to a greater amount of clubs which makes United seem a bit more ordinary than they are.
Anyways, great article Chudi. I think there will be some (false) stigma attached to this team; but going to the CL Final will brush some of that off. Merely two weeks ago when we beat Chelsea and were still in the running for the Treble, I read numerous articles backpeddling on how they labelled us merely weeks earlier.
Our greatest team ever? No, but filled with far more depth, quality and experience than given credit for.
So u’ve been watching Manchester United for 40 years, eh? Winning 15 out of 16 home league games so far is not good enough for u. All you can see is bad away record. By ur comment it seems u’ve been watching UNITED for last 4 years and not 40 years. Other teams have been poor so we are at the top, really? Well if that’s true, who the f*#k told them to be poor. On the verge of 19th title and still criticizing the team. For me winning the 19th title is as good achivement as winning the Treble. This team has it’s flaws but is that all you can see?
With due respect to Nani for his outstanding performance this season, i think Valencia has proved to be more of a team player than Nani with his contributions both offensively and at the defense.I can’t recall many times Valencia has rescued our back four, nevertheless his crosses has been very effective…SAF knows their abilities so well and its all down to the tactics we want to play. lets enjoy our darling club play good football. Congrats to all MANCUNIANS on victory against shalka 04.