Last night David Moyes' Manchester United pulled off what will be remembered as
one of Old Trafford's great European comebacks. After a 2-0 defeat in the first leg, the Red Devils came back to beat the Greek champions Olympiakos 3-0.
It would have been far better for Manchester United in the long run if they hadn't
qualified, in my opinion.
This might seem at first to be pointless contrarism but it isn't. Victory over Olympiacos will just delay the start of the needed rebuilding process. It would be different if the performance last night had been truly impressive but this wasn't the case. Manchester United may have beaten them 3-0, but you still couldn't call the performance a good one.
Against a truly poor side, Manchester United managed only five shots on target - three of which were goals. For most of the game Manchester United didn't look like they were going to score and even the goals themselves weren't great.
The first goal was a penalty that Man Utd won thanks to some dreadfully poor defending when Jose Holebas shoved Robin van Persie in the back.
The second goal was well taken but still relied on the opposition defence losing all
cohesion. The third goal, meanwhile, was thanks to an inexplicable goalkeeping error. A Sunday League pub goalkeeper would have been disappointed to let Van Persie's shot in.
Now that could be overlooked if the defensive performance had been good. It wasn't though. Manchester United managed to keep a clean sheet thanks to David de Gea's excellent double save and Olympiacos' lack of attacking threat.
Rafael was bailed out defensively by Antonio Valencia's hard work. Phil Jones looked like he was on the verge of panic whenever the ball went near him and Patrice Evra was perpetually out of position.
Almost every Premier League side and every side left in the Champions League would
have demolished this Manchester United team if they had been playing.
So David Moyes has luckily guided his side into the last eight. He is predictably saying that this could be a turning point. Every man and his dog has compared the 3-0 win to Mark Robins' goal in the FA Cup. It is nothing of the sort, however.
This Manchester United side will be trounced in the next round. It will be a humiliating experience for fans. More than this though, getting to the next round will just delay the rebuilding process that needs to start at Old Trafford.
If Manchester United had gone out the rest of the season could have been spent building a team for next year. Jones and Jonny Evans could have had the rest of the season to develop a solid partnership at the back.
Youngsters like Jesse Lingard, Guillermo Varela and Andreas Pereira could have been given valuable first-team experience. Instead now the likes Nemanja Vidic and Patrice Evra will now play out the rest of the season as first choice in a first XI that has no long term future.
It would have been better for Manchester United if they had been knocked out by Olympiakos.
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