Manchester of Old
Manchester United looked like their old selves in the Champions League today. As in the team who always came back in the dying minutes and got that win or tie when they most likely shouldn’t have.
Said Alex Ferguson after the 3-3 draw:
"If you want excitement, come to Old Trafford," said Sir Alex Ferguson. "One of the great pleasures of managing this football club is to get finishes like that tonight. It was just fantastic."
Against CSKA Moscow they again scored two goals in the final ten minutes, the last an own goal as Antonio Valencia’s shot deflected off a CSKA defender and into the net as the keeper dove the other way. The tie was enough to but The Redevils through to the final sixteen.
It was a deserved draw though, as they continued to attack and attack and attack and saw some of their shots hit the post or get steered wide by the keeper at the last second. It was just one of those clawing back type of games that show the spirit of Manchester and most likely of Alex Ferguson as the under current. They stuck to their game plan, keep the ball and if they lost it fight to win it back right away.
It was NOT the team that was embarrassed in the Champions League final against Barcelona less than a year ago. The final which very nearly seemed like the end of a United reign and era, with Cristiano Ronaldo leaving to Real Madrid and the old guys like Scholes, Giggs, and Neville, probably too old to keep the fight going.
Such is not the case of course, as this game would continue to prove.
It was a game without many of the Manchester United regulars, Rio and Vidic replaced by Brown and Evans. And there was no Giggs and Rooney only came on late. Federico Macheda got the starting job and it was Valencia who made things happen out wide.
In many ways the game was a look at just what a quality team this Manchester United side is and could potentially be. I still say it’s a shame that they let Carlos Tevez go, but Michael Owen could very well mount a resurgence, and I think most would want to see him succeed. Owen got his goal after a smart heel pass from Nani after a Valencia cross.
Manchester United brought on Gabriel Obertan late in the game and he showed some pep and pace on the wing. He seems to have modeled his game after French compatriot Thierry Henry, as Obertan seems to want to glide along the touchline just as Henry does.
There are some surprises ahead for opponents facing Manchester United. Yes, they are the team that never gives up and lies down. But they are also a team with some young firepower. Who, with some more games under their belts and some confidence, could lead United back to the final against this year in the Champions League along with the wise old ones like Giggs, Scholes, Rio and even Gary Neville.
Extra: It wasn’t all United, there was a Serbian by the name of Milos Krasic who caused United plenty of trouble. And at just 25 years old, and headed for the World Cup with his country, might be a player United would like to sign if he can keep playing well. Krasic is a smooth winger who hits those surprise crosses and slips past players when you think there’s not enough space.