Despite scoring first against Bayern Munich both home and away, Manchester United were totally outclassed over the two legs, and the gulf between both sides was plain to see, where the best Manchester United could do was to block their penalty area with eight players in hopes of stifling Bayern.
After losing 4-2 on aggregate to Manchester United, and exiting the UEFA Champions League, the season for the Red Devils is effectively over.
Manchester United has been absolutely wretched this season and the blame for that lies solely at the feet of Sir Alex Ferguson. Yes, I said it, Sir Alex is the reason the United faithful (myself included) have all been up in arms or down in the dumps since last August. And it’s not poor old David Moyes’ fault as we would all like to believe.
Realistically, David Moyes is not in the same managerial class as Manuel Pellegrini, Jose Mourinho, Arsene Wenger or Brendan Rodger. That fact coupled with the broken down squad he inherited from Ferguson was always going to make this season a torrid one. His detractors have argued that this is the same squad that won the title last season and, as such, Moyes must be the problem. No, that’s not the case.
The fact that United won the title last season was more down to the dismal showing of the other top teams and Ferguson’s cult of personality, not only at Old Trafford but on the Premier League. The Liverpool game at Old Trafford is a glaring example of how things have changed. Anyone familiar with English football knows full well that teams playing at Old Trafford are almost never awarded penalties. Yet Liverpool were awarded three in a single game. That would have been inconceivable had Ferguson been sitting on the United bench. Moyes cannot be blamed for not being Ferguson.
For the last four seasons, this United squad have been in dire need of an injection of quality players, especially in the middle of the park where it really matters. The midfield threat that once made United an offensive juggernaut has been long missing, and Wayne Rooney frequently finds himself frustrated and alone up front. His number of league goals this season is an indication of the lack of service he receives. It is also an indication that opposing teams are now fully aware that United’s attacking threat is encompassed in Rooney. Shut him down and you shut down the United offense. As a result, he has been receiving a great deal more attention than would normally have been the case.
David Moyes faces an uphill task in so far as quality players are concerned. Liverpool’s strike partnership of Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge, have scored more goals than entire Premier League teams.
United’s lack of world-class players cannot be laid at David Moyes’ feet. It is Ferguson who, with the exception of Shinji Kagawa and Robin van Persie, refrained from bringing in quality players during the past three seasons. And those chickens have now come home to roost. The current squad has only four world-class players in it — Rooney, Van Persie, Juan Mata and goalkeeper David De Gea. Compare this with the other top teams in the league and it becomes clear that United is not a top team and their current seventh place in the league is about par for the quality (or lack thereof) of this team.
This brings us to the philosophy of the team. Before this season, there was always one thing you could count on from a Manchester United team. They were going to play hard to the final whistle, and that was evident in the number of goals they scored very late in games. With those teams, there was an air of belief that they were never beaten and that philosophy took them to many famous victories. This belief is now clearly missing. But also missing is Ferguson and the numerous outstanding players that inspired those wins.
The current squad is simply not capable of living up to that United philosophy. David Moyes, through no fault of his own, is not capable of driving that philosophy through sheer force of will in the same manner that Ferguso was able to. Moyes will have to craft his own philosophy for the team and that must start with a purging of the current squad come the end of the season. If there is no improvement next season, then Moyes can be kicked to the curb. Until then we will lie the blame for this season’s fiasco squarely at the feet of Sir Alex Ferguson.