The final whistle that sounded out in the Camp Nou, signalled the end of the line for this Manchester United team in Barcelona. The Champions League journey was over for another year at least.
As the travelling United fans spilled out onto the streets of the Catalan capital, looking to drown their sorrows long into the night, a familiar theme was beginning to grow in the form of opinion. Stop any fan walking out of that stadium after full time and I would imagine all of the answers would be the same. United are in need of a major rebuild. Open heart surgery, if you like.
Players like Ashley Young, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling, three of the back four, are still hanging on from the Sir Alex Ferguson title winning team. Back then they had the likes of Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic and Patrice Evra along side them. Now, these players are the senior members of the team, the leaders, and in reality they are just not up to that level.
Defeat just a few days later on Merseyside meant that it would be a tough old week for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his team. A 4-0 drubbing at the hands of Everton compounded what would be a shambles of a week which saw chances of Champions League glory in both this season and most probably next, eliminated.
It wasn’t just the defeat to Everton though, it was the manner in which the team rolled over to get its belly tickled. Players seem to have stopped trying since the full time appointment of the boss. You can have all the talent in the world but unless it’s working hard, it all counts for nothing.
“I will be successful here, there are players that will not be part of that” – OGS
It’s no coincidence that when Jones and Smalling pair up in the centre of defence, our win percentage is a lot lower then when they are not. Victor Lindelof has been one of the stand out performers this season, albeit in a not too sturdy defence. Yet the last two matches has seen OGS push the Swede out into the full back position.
The Manchester derby looms large this week. United need to win to have any chance whatsoever of scraping into the top four. Defeat for City mind, and this would give Liverpool the upper hand in the title race. As much as I wouldn’t want to see Liverpool win the league, I certainly won’t be cheering if City start to score against us on Wednesday evening. We should keep our own house in order and whatever will be, will be in regards to results elsewhere.
The boss had some harsh words in the post match interview at Everton. He was certainly in bullish mood and apologised to the fans for the teams dreadful performance.
“I just want to apologise to the fans. They’re the only people with the badge on today who can hold their head high, because we can’t.” – OGS
The boss will want to see a much better performance in the derby. And let’s face it, if you can’t get yourself up for the games against your biggest rivals, then what are you even doing playing at Manchester United?
Ole’s at the wheel!