First things first. The 1-2 defeat at the Allianz was NOT revenge for 1999 as the pundits are trying to portray it. Not even close. That result in Barcelona was decisive, it was final, there was no comeback for Bayern. What we are now talking about is entirely different, where with an away goal in the bag United have a real chance of going through to the semi final, possibly even favourites to.
Yes, the 1-1 draw which looked so likely, or even a 1-0 away win which for so long appeared possible, would have been so much better but let’s face facts, based on that 90 minute performance, the position United find themselves in is far better than they really deserve. Sir Alex Ferguson’s assessment was one that nobody can possibly disagree with “The real crux of the battle was giving the ball away” Ferguson said “We did not need to work for that early goal, it came too easily”.
Football can be one of the strangest games of all! A goal after mere seconds should, and normally would, set up a solid defeat of an opponent but as has been shown so many times in the past, it can come back to bite you on the bum similar to the way that a 2-0 lead can turn out to be a most dangerous one. The sharp edge carried into the game can be somewhat blunted, minds can relax, conceding a soft goal is always possible and before anyone knows what hit them the pressure becomes intense.
But all is not lost, far from it. You will never get an argument that apart from an away win or any type of score draw, the away goal from a 1-2 deficit is one of the most welcome when faced with a second leg at home. That is precisely what United are up against at Old Trafford next week, not an easy task but certainly a winnable one – with a seriously notable proviso. United may have to do it without an injured Wayne Rooney.
That possibility will beg the question of whether United is really a one man team when a more valid one should be whether Rooney will be missed. The true answer to the first question must be an emphatic no while the second can only be truthfully answered with a definite yes, of course he would.
Does Barcelona miss Lionel Messi when he’s out of the side? Without doubt. Does that make them a one man team? Obviously not but it sure makes them easier to cope with. The talent that is in this United side, the winning mentality it possesses, are sufficient to defeat both Chelsea and Bayern with or without Rooney. What happened last night in Munich has happened, nothing can change it but lessons will be learned. Sir Alex will make sure of that.
Contrary to all the negativity that has been expressed in some quarters, everything is still there to play for, the season is far from over and unlike the heartbreaking finality Bayern Munich had to endure all those years ago in Barcelona, United still has an opportunity to reignite their season. As unpleasant as it was, last nights setback was just that, nothing more and nothing less.
Is the dream still alive for United?