Manchester United’s 1-1 draw against Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich finally showed manager David Moyes which players are willing to play for him.
Since taking over from Sir Alex Ferguson last July, the Scot has watched many abject performances lacking desire and heart, with the two 3-0 home defeats to Liverpool and Manchester City the two lowest points of his miserable reign.
But, on Tuesday night in front of an Old Trafford crowd simmering with passion and hellbent on seeing a magical evening of vintage Manchester United football, Moyes’ boys (who don’t play like Fergie’s boys) stood tall and rallied behind their beleaguered manager.
Nemanja Vidic was the star of the show. The Serb may have agreed to join Inter Milan at the end of the campaign, but his performance was impeccable. Though his best days are behind him, United will miss his fearless leadership once he departs.
Surprising positives came in the forms of Alexander Buttner and Marouane Fellaini. Both were expected to struggle, yet like the rest of the side their industrial prowess saw them hold their own even though the Belgian looked sloppy and out of his depth throughout.
Wayne Rooney, Phil Jones and Antonio Valencia chased everything, and nullified the German’s attacking threat. Rooney’s tantalising pass provided Danny Welbeck with a chance to open the scoring, but the England forward could not beat Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer.
It is also now clear than Welbeck is a real Manchester United player. Blessing pace and potency, he was a constant threat and the German’s inability to handle him clearly irked manager Pep Guardiola, who was seen gesticulating in his direction angrily. He could possibly be the difference in the next leg.
Most surprising of all was that the performance was missing Robin van Persie and Rafael Da Silva. The question asked by those leaving the stadium last night was how different the contest could have been if they were fit for inclusion?
The answer is perhaps not that different. Maybe it is no surprise the night United tugged at the heartstrings of old was one where they were not ready for inclusion. Their absence may have been a help, and not a hindrance.
United may yet suffer a mauling in the return leg at the Allianz arena next week. But for now, Moyes’ boys hint at light at the end of the tunnel and the brighter days their manager has been keen to stress are in sight.
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