Manchester United Brand is Tainted

How does Manchester redeem themselves and the Manchester United brand after the loss to Barcelona?

The last time I saw Manchester United get out played was a few years ago in the Champions League semifinals against Barcelona at the Camp Nou. They won the return leg at Manchester but they didn’t get a hold of the ball a lot in the previous game. It was a sign of things to come. And this was Barcelona with Ronaldinho and Deco in a slump.

But Manchester United’s performance in last week’s Champions League final was embarrassing. Abysmal is more like it. Barcelona made them look the foolish.

In the EPL, Manchester was hammered by Liverpool, 4-0, but it was due to a few costly errors and mishaps at the back, Nemanja Vidic again slipping up to let Torres break free on two occasions. Barcelona played keep away and teased the usually feared Red Devils.

But in final Manchester was listless and seemed like they were jet legged or hangover. Did the heat have anything to do with it? Was it humid? Did they not get a good pre-game meal? Even Ferguson wasn’t his usual fiery self on the sidelines. They were down 1-0 up until the 80th minute, yet there was no storming back or fight in the club. They seemed catatonic.

The question becomes though, how do you overcome such a poor display. Their brand took a hit with this loss. Their brand is tainted now by the loss. They are no longer the best club in the world.

They were always known as they never give up and Eric Cantona inspired force – collar up. Cristiano, was left to a few early robotic moves and shots and all those early on. There was no grace in his game. He is no Cantona, who had both strength and a grace on the ball. Cantona didn’t care what people thought, he just wanted to play and win.

Cristiano is now gone I would think. He will end up at Real Madrid. If he doesn’t, then there’s the chance for his redemption, maybe he wants another shot with the Manchester to overcome this loss. However, he’s already won everything with Manchester and a new challenge I’m guessing is what he will seek. How can you turn down going to Madrid? Who wouldn’t want to eat tapas and dance into the night with las chicas de Espana. I’m sure Beckham would say it’s a wonderful place to play.

Manchester United is of course not dead. They have a young squad but are still missing an Iniesta, Xavi, or a Messi. They don’t have that player who can drive at players and pass the ball off. They have work horses in Anderson, Fletcher, and Carrick – all good passers but players who don’t have that little bit extra.

No wonder they wanted to sign Ribery from Bayern Munich. They want a player who can create goal scoring chances. Sure, Rooney and Cristiano and Giggs all have this ability. But Giggs time is limited. His best days are over it looks like. He can do amazing things in the EPL, against Wigan and Sunderland and Fulham, but not against Chelsea or Barcelona.

It’s a bit sad though. The Manchester United brand is diminished just like their sponsor AIG. Liverpool said their blow out win against them would show that teams can beat them. Tottenham should have beat them, they were up 2 goals. Will teams be afraid of playing the Red Devils? Yes, they still will be, but a bit of the sheen is gone.

I’m curious to see what becomes of the team this next year. Will Tevez and Cristiano say their goodbyes? What players will they sign? Or will Manchester come back stronger than ever, out to prove everybody that they’re no second fiddle to Barcelona’s graceful passing style.

I noticed Manchester United is coming to the United States this summer. It will be a Barcelona road show.