Date: 6th March 2013 at 3:30am
Written by:

United 11 vs Real Madrid

I can be a sore loser at times, you can tell from the rare occasion that we lose and I may neglect to post for a day or so but I would be doing a disservice not only to the team and the supporters in Old Trafford tonight if I was to ignore this game.

Tonight was very much a United night from the onset, and whilst no team has the right to win any game, it is a travesty that we lost and exited the Champions League.

There were misgivings about Stretford End Flag’s ‘plastic flag’ mosaic but rather than feel embarrassed by it, it added to the atmosphere. The fans, Real Madrid’s included, created a cacophony of sound that gave the game a further edge and even when it seemed like the tie was lost the fans remained in good spirit singing ‘We’ll Never Die’.

There was a respectful welcome for Cristiano Ronaldo but the supporters let him know that we have our own players that we are firmly behind, with Van Persie, Giggs, Carrick and a host of other players saluted by the fans whilst Jose was told to sit down (he complied too!).

Now for the game and the players.

Often when a team loses people look for scapegoats but tonight there were none. We fielded 11 heroes who worked hard for each other and the fans only to see their hard work undone by some poor officiating. It wasn’t always smooth sailing, Real had a strong spell at the start of the game and after United scored, but on the night and over the two legs United were equal to and even bettered their opponents.

Now United are a top team so this shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, but because of the press’ reaction when the draw was made and throughout this season, the performances are a huge middle finger to doubters and detractors. This was meant to be one of Sir Alex Ferguson’s weaker teams, a team top of the Premier League by twelve points only because everyone else has been so poor. In reality that is nonsense and it showed tonight more so than ever.

Real were flat and largely because of the team. Danny Welbeck terrorised the Madrid back line as he did at the Bernabeu. Ramos was given a torrid time and even the burgeoning reputation of Raphael Verane took a knock because Danny was willing to run at and beyond them. He pulled them out of position, creating space for others. He caused a panic in the box as United took the lead and it was the slightest of touches that wrong footed Ramos for the goal.

He also did a brilliant job of nullifying Xabi Alonso and thus cutting Real Madrid’s supply line. A good forward yes, but as a player Welbeck is immense, there are parts of his game that need polishing but when he does Ramos and countless others will be in more trouble than they already are.

David De Gea shone in the first leg but in the second had little to do bar picking the ball out of his net twice. He can count himself unlucky that his titanic efforts amounted to nothing but if this tie did something, it confirmed that he is very much United quality.

De Gea can put his relatively quiet night down to the 4 players in front of him. Rafael who was given a tough time in Spain was solid offensively and defensive. Ramos felt the need to give him a little tug when he broke forward threateningly in the first half and he cleared a header off the line in the second when Real turned on the pressure in the second. Vidic was a monster in the air as always with defensive header after defensive header and could even have got onto the score sheet with the post denying him. Rio Ferdinand showed he is still quick of mind and limb with timely interceptions and recovering challenges whilst Evra was a constant outlet to bring the ball out of defence to alleviate pressure.

Carrick was brilliant as always and dropped back to clear any danger that presented itself and did this well , he may be getting his praise now but it should have been forthcoming a long time ago. Nani will unfairly be seen as the man that caused the tie to turn, but it was by no fault of his own. His selection raised a few eyebrows but he justified his position in the team as he too¬†harassed Madrid’s defence, specifically when United looked to break. He drew the error from Varane that lead to United’s opener and showed he can still impact games.

The player I sympathise with most is Ryan Giggs though. The Welshman’s 1000th game will be memorable because in it he showed why he is regarded as a living legend. Putting in an almighty shift on the flank, he offered Rafael more protection than Rooney did in the first leg. Di Maria, Ronaldo or whoever; nobody enjoyed much success due to the work he did in tandem with Rafael. Getting forward he showed brilliance with outside of the boot passes as he looked no part of his 39 years.

I can only offer up an apology for the piece I penned in January questioning whether he should call it a day at the end of the season. It goes to show, that whilst I may be an ok-ish writer (and that’s pushing it!) I should be kept as far away from the Old Trafford hot seat as possible!

Even after United went down to 10 men we still forced the issue and it’s fair to say despite the deficit we were still largely the better team. Rooney’s volley over the bar and Lopez’s saves from Carrick, Van Persie and Vidic; it was largely down to him that Mourinho’s side find themselves in the draw for the competition’s next round.

The game also showed that contrary to the belief of some small minded and misinformed football fans, Sir Alex is as tactically astute as the best of them. For 6o or so minutes United looked a good bet for the quarter final, with Welbeck and Giggs deployed so effectively.

There are no tears to be shed, hours later I have even let my anger at the referee subside. What we saw tonight was proper United, pulling it out of the hat when people expect it the least and even when the odds were stacked against them, carrying on because as the song says we’ll never die. It was reminiscent of Tennyson’s Charge Of The Light Brigade¬† in how the team, despite everything saying no, the away goals, the 1 man disadvantage, still tried to say yes and came so close to doing what would have been the impossible.

So rather than grade each player individually, I will just express my pride in the team, the fans and the club as a whole. We must now look onwards and upwards as there are 2 more trophies to fight for.


18 responses to “PLAYER RATINGS vs Real Madrid – United Shine Despite Ref’s Error”

  1. harry says:

    Wonderfully written my friend, if theres one positive we can pick out from the game then it would be the never say die attitude shown by the entire team. Never been so proud to call myself a United fan. GLORY GLORY MAN UNITED. TO THE DOUBLE WE GO

  2. Hammed abiola f says:

    If there’s any positive thing to take from thta game, it shows the manager can never be questioned, his X1 players are heroes albeit the STUPID refree. Why UEFA won’t appointed a grade A refree was beyond logic. Glory UTD.

  3. saba says:

    Manchester United are a toothless dog

    • detoy117 says:

      @saba nothing personal but i strongly feel it would be of enormous importance to see a doctor
      man to man you need it

    • Angelo says:

      Yep. A toothless dog sitting 12 points clear on top of the premier league and got beat because of poor refereeing in the quater final of the champions league.

  4. jim says:

    think keano was spot on. if this hadhappened to any other team it wouldn’t have got the media coverage this has.

  5. ben says:

    Tonight Utd playing the best of football in Europe for the past 3 years. It amazes me yet again how much i love this club.

    Fergie tactic were spot on, the 11 players fought hard and play well. They have lion spirits.

    Nani red card is not a red. Understand football, its not a red. No matter 100 times i see its not a red. A attempt to trap the ball down is not a challenge for a red. No.

    I hope Nani signs his new contract. The whole team play well and im so proud.

    We have a bright future.

  6. The Devil says:

    Firstly any explayers who are doing media dont know a thing about football because if they did they would be managers.Nani sendinf off apart it clearly showed last night that both Carrick/Giggs are not good enough for the very big games.Modric had the freedom of OT to score his goal and the other goal showed how poor a defender Rafael really is.The word at OT a few weeks back was that Fergie was sounding out Wiltshire for Rooney.

  7. John Smith says:

    We cannot lie and say it was an error

    When Spurs had Adebayor sent off for trying to win the ball the media were in universal agreement that it was the right decision

    They cannot now change their minds because it happened to their beloved Man Utd

  8. Ray says:

    I was shocked when the ref gave Nani a red card, but I have seen it back a few times and it is a borderline decision. If it had been Arbeloa on Nani we would have been calling for a red. It’s disappointing but I’m not 100% convinced the ref was wrong. There may have been no mailace in the attempt by Nani but we know refs on the continent are hot on feet above even knee height, but as I say it was borderline.
    As for the players there is a lot to be proud of, Welbeck was superb over the two legs, rafeal recovered from a tough first half in Madrid and has come out of it with huge credit. Cleverly was excellent last night. De Gea superb in the first leg and didn’t have a lot to do last night.
    Fergie got his tactics and selection spot on over both legs, not something that can always be said of the great man, certainly not recently in Europe. It’s horrible to go out because of a referring decision, whether the right one or not. The team can bounce back from this, look at the positives in time and realise that for long periods of the tie we matched one of the best in Europe.

  9. topdog says:

    Not borderline or close if you have sky watch it with the slowmotion on or just use the pause button and you will see Bank is looking skyward with his eyes on the ball, then he maneuvers into position to kill the ball with his foot, he does this as the Madrid man comes crashing in as Bank twist his body to make contact with the ball and then the man. Football isn’t a none contact sport and if was the equally by the same reffing standards and same criteria the goalie should have gone for completely missing the ball and lamping Judicial. So get real and know the rules how ever applied is a two way street. Just saying.

  10. topdog says:

    That’s Nani not bank and Vidic not judicial. Stupid writing program.