Football truly is a game like no other where minutes can feel like hours and hours can sometimes feel like days. As quickly and powerfully as the ball can be slammed into the net, it’s equally as quick that a team’s fortune or good form can disintegrate. American Baseball is described as a “game of inches”, however, by my decree, football now steals that description and adds to it’s representation a game of “seconds, minutes and degrees”. It’s these unpredictably precise moments that draw us to football in the first place, but moments that can also betray our passions when they don’t favor us. Is there any luck involved in football, or do good teams perform well and thus look lucky?
As predictable as football can sometimes be, so too can it’s unforeseen events shock us and change our mood, thoughts and outlook like we change socks. Football can be described as widely fickle in it’s attempt to shine down luck or good fortune upon it’s participants while they run around chasing that little ball on a strip of grass. An injury can (and will) occur at anytime under the oddest of circumstances and can change the look and movement of a team often rendering them inept.
These thoughts were proved decisively by the opening moments, and for that matter, the full extent of Tuesday’s Champions League quarter final 1st leg in Munich. With in 2 minutes of the whistle, current world beater Wayne Rooney was the recipient of some good fortune (luck?) when Bayern Munich defender Martin Demichelis slipped in his attempt to mark Rooney and subsequently left the England striker wide open in front of goal for a tap in.
Fast forward 88 minutes + stoppage, and that opening tap in was about as good as it got for United (minus small spells throughout the first half). Sir Alex Ferguson opted for his classic European or big match formation that has served him and United so well recently implementing a 4-5-1 that oh so desperately wanted to be a successful 4-3-3 but just wasn’t to be. Credit Bayern Munich’s intensity in midfield coupled with United’s infertility in the center of the park and failure to provide the 1 in Fergie’s formation with any decent or applicable service for the at times dominate performance.
As United attempted to ride their one goal lead, they seemed unable to string together two passes in the second half as their cohesion in attack seemed to lack concentration and oddly reminded me of their woeful performance in last season’s final v Barcelona. It’s been rightfully written on this very site that the better team won the match. Manchester United just seemed to be moving so slow and were unable to match Bayern’s intensity. Bayern Munich did an incredible job denying United midfielders the space they needed to link play with the wingers and Rooney up front.
Time after time, United gave the ball away which turned into chance after chance for Munich. The final 2-1 scoreline was a fair one. In no way did United deserve to win, but they still need to feel optimistic and confident taking an away goal into the return leg at Old Trafford.
- As a Nation Watches On
As far as the injury is concerned, lady luck swiped back the early gift that saw Rooney score the opener as a sort of tease of good fortune. As the match dissolved into a Munich victory, Rooney, by an inch, second or degree, landed awkwardly damaging his ankle. Injury added to insult in mere seconds. Reports are finally emerging as to the extent of the knock and it seems United will be without their leader for 2-4 weeks with an ankle sprain. This untimely fact of course means he’ll miss not only the return leg of the quarter final, but also the top of the table clash with Chelsea this Saturday.
Can Manchester United press on and continue their Champions League and Premier League run without their talisman in this, the most important stretch of the season? Well, they’re going to have to, but whether or not they can see out April and still be involved and pursing trophies is a conclusion unknown.