In the time that I’ve been writing for Truly Reds, I have always been mindful of the fact that I had an obligation to remain completely objective in presenting balanced opinions in a professional manner. This time however, I intend to avail myself of the luxury of spelling out my feelings simply as a Manchester United fan because the elimination from the Champions League by Bayern Munich was so difficult to accept.
But that’s football, ecstatic one minute, devastated the next. 1-0 after barely three minutes and the deficit from the first leg was wiped out. 2-0 in just over seven to go ahead on aggregate, then an incredible 3-0 before half time to start raising premature thoughts of AS Roma. My mind started wondering of which French side United will play AND defeat in the semi final to set up a revenge meeting with Lionel Messi’s Barcelona in Madrid.
Even though it was only 5.30 in the morning here in Australia, too early even for breakfast, a bottle of bubbly was about to be cracked open in order to celebrate those totally unexpected events at far away Old Trafford. But within minutes of taking that commanding 3-0 lead, Olic somehow got the better of Michael Carrick to give Bayern a glimmer of hope.
As the whistle blew for half time everything was back in the melting pot, the uncomfortable feeling of foreboding which suddenly came over me could not be avoided. All thoughts of celebrations were put on hold as strong, black coffee became the order of the morning in an attempt to settle those nerves churning inside my stomach.
United were so dominant until those last few minutes before half time that I kept insisting to myself that Bayern’s goal was only a small hiccup and will not really matter in the end. Five minutes after the restart Da Silva had his brain snap, the red card came out and the die was cast.
To be brutally honest I cannot agree with Fergusons comments about the reaction of the Germans. Had the situation been reversed with United facing elimination at that moment, I would have wanted our players to react in exactly the same way. The highest of high stakes were at play and if that reaction was needed to have a chance of getting back into the game, so be it.
From that moment on there was only ever going to be one result. Yes, hopes of somehow surviving began to rise as the clock ticked on but when the execution came it was quick, clean and absolutely final. There was no way back. This game almost epitomized the sort of season United have gone through, first exceeding most realistic expectations only to then have them cruelly extinguished very soon afterwards.
A third consecutive defeat in a week was at least avoided on the night yet that 3-2 victory proved to be so hollow that in the end, it only served to provide so many people with so much devastation!
As Sir Alex once so famously said “Football? f*****g hell”
Who do you expect to qualify for the Champions League Final?