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Man Utd exit highlights Premier League decline

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Phil McNulty | 07:34 UK time, Thursday, 8 April 2010

At Old Trafford

Bayern Munich's trademark communal bow in front of their ecstatic fans at Old Trafford brought the final curtain down on an era of English domination in the Champions League.

Sir Alex Ferguson summed up a madcap night by going a bit Basil Fawlty as Manchester United became the latest Premier League powerhouse to exit Europe's elite competition.

Ferguson raged at the "typical Germans" who urged referee Nicola Rizzoli to dismiss United defender Rafael in one of the defining moments of a thriller marked by fluctuating fortunes.

The "typical Germans" in question happened to be Franck Ribery and Mark van Bommel, who were French and Dutch last time their passports were checked. It was a confusing night admittedly, but Ferguson's remarks did him no credit.

What is beyond dispute is that Bayern's victory on away goals further releases the stranglehold the Premier League's so-called "Big Four" have exerted on this competition, with no English representative in the semi-finals for the first time since 2003.

Rafael is sent off at Old TraffordRafael is given his marching orders by referee Nicola Rizzoli

And as United followed Arsenal out of the competition, Ferguson was left to reflect on a gamble that looked a winner all the way for 43 minutes but ultimately failed to pay off, and to focus on how to achieve five wins that may, or may not, bring him a fourth successive domestic title.

As Ferguson pointed out in the opening lines of his programme notes: "Just when everything in Europe seemed to be going so smoothly - the kick in the teeth came!"

He was referring to United conceding two goals that resulted in a first leg defeat by Bayern in the Allianz Arena - but the message applied even more painfully here.

Having said he would not risk Wayne Rooney only the day before, Ferguson contradicted himself by handing the England striker a starting place - but it was a decision that galvanised Old Trafford and a United team injected with pace in the shape of Rafael, Nani and Antonio Valencia.

As well as confirming Rooney's importance, it perhaps also emphasised the lack of faith Ferguson has in Dimitar Berbatov, who was shunted back to the bench after last Saturday's defeat by Chelsea.

How Ferguson's gamble allowed him to cash in his chips early on. Rooney set up Darron Gibson for the first, fed Valencia to set up Nani's second. When the Portuguese added the third before the interval it all looked plain sailing.

Rooney, however, had already shown signs of frailty. He never looked fully fit at any point, and his problems increased when he twisted his ankle again and limped painfully for several minutes before resuming, albeit with vastly reduced effectiveness.

If this was an ominous sign, the real unravelling started when Ivica Olic was allowed to score just before half-time. In this single careless moment hapless Bayern were revived. The whole mood of the tie, and indeed Old Trafford, altered instantly.

And when Rafael was sent off, correctly despite Ferguson's anti-German sentiments, all bets were off. The fast-fading Rooney was removed to allow John O'Shea to plug the gap left by the red-carded youngster.

All the impetus had shifted to Bayern and it was no surprise when Arjen Robben quite sumptuously volleyed the decisive second away goal with 16 minutes left. With Rooney watching from the bench with only an ice pack for company, United were bereft of ideas and Bayern survived with ease.

Any gamble is only judged by its end result. This one ended with Rooney aggravating his injury and United out of the Champions League, so it was a failure.

Ferguson and his team produced much to admire but came up short over the two legs - and there was no disguising the Scot's pain as he very obviously regarded this as an opportunity that got away.

He also forgot the score, wrongly claiming: "It's unusual for our club to lose three games." You knew exactly what he meant though - rarely could victory have tasted more like bitter defeat.

As Ferguson nears the day when he will have to take tough decisions on his older brigade of Gary Neville, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs - all left out of the starting line-up here - he could at least draw comfort from the efforts of his emerging players.

Rafael was youthful exuberance personified before he was sent off. Valencia tortured poor Holger Badstuber and Nani took his development to another level with a performance that delivered pace, persistence, skill and bravery as well as two goals.

They will be small crumbs for Ferguson after he set his heart on avenging defeat in last year's final against Barcelona. He will still regard the two Champions League wins during his reign as a poor return.

Manchester United manager Sir Alex FergusonSir Alex Ferguson must now focus his attention on trying to retain the Premier League title

United have never totally convinced in the Champions League this season apart from the imperious dismissal of an ageing AC Milan - and the departure of the last big beast completes a chastening tournament for England's finest.

It is hardly crisis time for the Premier League, but it is a matter of some significance that the semi-finals will be fought out by teams from Spain, Italy, Germany and France.

There is little doubt there has been a decline at the top of the Premier League this season, as proved by the see-saw nature of the title race and defeats suffered by those who despite that, continue to dominate.

And there has also been a closing of the gap from the competition around Europe, resulting in the complete absence of English teams in the last four.

Liverpool failed to navigate their way out of the group phase and Chelsea were comprehensively outmanoeuvred by Jose Mourinho's Inter Milan. The battle between the Premier League's purists Arsenal and Europe's artists Barcelona was embarrassingly one-sided, and while Bayern may have ridden luck at Old Trafford on Wednesday, they won the first leg deservedly.

Ferguson, even in defeat and a top-flight wipeout in the Champions League, clung to the old beliefs. "I don't think it casts a shadow over the game. I still think it's the best league in Europe," he said.

The words sounded like a reflex action and he may not have found too many to agree with him as Bayern's celebrations echoed in the background.

It has been the worst week in Ferguson's recent footballing memory, with a defeat to Chelsea that cost United the Premier League leadership sandwiched between the games that unhinged their Champions League hopes. If United's fail to win the title, Ferguson will have plenty of food for thought to digest on his summer holiday.

The great Lothar Matthäus once claimed football is a simple game where 22 men run around for 90 minutes and then the Germans win, just as they did here - even when they lost.

As Ferguson might say, typical.

Hardly back to the drawing board for those so keen to champion the Premier League's supremacy, but a sobering lesson nonetheless.

You can follow me throughout this season at twitter.com/philmcnulty and join me on Facebook.

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    Ferguson's "Typical Germans" comment were an absolute disgrace.
    How long do you think these embarrassing outbursts should be allowed to go on before the governing bodies both in England and Europe say "Enough"?
    Was the decision to play Rooney "mind games" as usually portrayed in the press or merely a ill advised and reckless act?

    Ferguson, despite his excellent managerial record has blotted his copy book one too many times. The mild term "Bad loser" is no longer applicable and for a Knight of the Realm he should hang his head in shame..

  • Comment number 2.

    There is hope for the future with this current side, Nani and Valencia did quite well considering they dont have that much experience for such nights. . .Van Der Sar is unbelievable at 40

  • Comment number 3.

    How come United are 'dumped' out of Europe yet yesterday Arsenal are just knocked out of Europe, von Bommell deserved two yellows, one for the foul on Rooney and then the foul on Rafael. Lost all respect for your blog Mr McNulty - Not Bitter!

  • Comment number 4.

    Ferguson's xenophobic 'typical Germans' comment is a disgrace.

    Firstly, it's got nothing to do with their nationality, some of the players in the vicinity were French and Croatian for a start. Every team moans when a player commits a foul, I'm sure Bayern's players were just pointing out to the ref that it was his second offence so there wasn't any English ref-style booking the wrong person antics.

    Secondly, it's so hypocritical it's untrue. How many times over the years have we seen Manchester 'surround the ref' United bully refs into sending players off or reversing decisions?

    A lot of people choose the easy option of going down the xenophobic route of arguing it's cheating foreigners, but it's not. Over the past couple of years, Chelsea have proved that the English teams are rife with cheating and can't help haranguing refs, whereas teams like Bayern last night actually played the game fairly.

  • Comment number 5.

    I thought Bayern were better than people are giving them credit for. Yes, United deserved to be ahead in the first half, but only just. They looked good going forward but never looked comfortable in midfield and defence. It always looked like Bayern were going to score in the first half.

    Why can't Ferguson and United ever admit that the opposition were as good as or better than them? Bayerns passing was of a much higher quality, and Robben was the best player on the park.

    I used to enjoy watching the entertaining Man U of old, but this team is very physical and pretty uninspiring (apart from Nani). They need a couple of really good players in there who can do something with the ball.

  • Comment number 6.

    United, Liverpool and chelsea are all playing worse compared to last season, with Arsenal only slightly improved, but its no time to start writing off the PL teams just because we haven't dominated like the last few seasons.

    Glad to see the better team won last night, lets hope Fergie didnt break rooney for the world cup

  • Comment number 7.

    A Man Utd team in their pomp and prime would not have let Bayern back into the game last night. The truth of the weakening of the team with the missing duo of Ronaldo and Tevez from last season is laid bare.

    I turn the sound off when managers these days comment, how hard is it to say they were the better side or we should have defended better. Always someone else's fault, this time 'Germans' and the old one, the Ref.

  • Comment number 8.

    It was always going to happen. Europe works on cycles, as my article here expressed nearly a year ago when England were riding high in Europe.

    http://www.worldfootballcolumns.com/2009/03/16/the-cyclic-nature-of-football/

  • Comment number 9.

    "There is little doubt there has been a decline at the top of the Premier League this season"
    ==========

    I agree..its because teams like ManU, Chelsea get away with a lot more than they deserve to in the PL..not so in the CL.

    For what reason exactly was Ferguson fuming over the red-card last night?? It was well deserved ..but not something that would happen to ManU in the PL.

  • Comment number 10.

    Typical Alex Ferguson for making that remark after the match.
    Anyway, the ITV commentary was at times biased. I find it embarrassing how British media sound more like a fan club when Man utd are on top. It never happens with Chelsea or Arsenal. Further evidence to me that the media here has a strong pro-man utd sentiment.
    Robben goal was magnificent.

  • Comment number 11.

    I'm not sure the standards of the Premier League have fallen very much over the last one to two years. In my opinion some of the other teams in Europe may have caught up a bit but we had two teams in the last eight and if both Man United & Arsenal have had fully fit squads to choose from then its possible we might have had at least one side in the semis.

  • Comment number 12.

    Great blog, glad to see someone can see that Rafael should have been sent off, an dif you look at the replays the ref has already made his min dup before the Bayern players get to him.

    A bit disappointed you didn't highlight Schweinsteiger, sure Robben provided great sparks during the match but it was Van Bommel and Schweinsteiger who controled the game. Schweinsteiger is playing a different role this season and he hasn't got many goals becuase of it but he is playing conisistantly better. I thought Schweiny was man of the match last night.

    Fergusons comments were laughable, Wenger took his defeat with good grace, UTD were outplayed for the majority of both ties and Bayern deserved to go through. If Rafa had been in the position and taken a striker off and replacing him with a defender after going down to ten men meaning no striker on the field and therefore no outlet, he would have been criticised.

  • Comment number 13.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 14.

    Last night Feguson showed Europe how much of a sore loser he has become. His "typical Germans" comment was out of order.

    There is no doubt he has been a successful manager over his career, but that idiotic comment was his Zineden Zidane moment. At the end of his career he goes and tarnishes his reputation. The man lacks class or respect when he loses.

  • Comment number 15.

    Get in!!!
    Oh how we laughed!

  • Comment number 16.

    This tie was lost due to poor defending - nothing else. United have "lost" their last three games and in each game conceded two goals. For teams looking to win trophies they cannot do so with such poor defending.

  • Comment number 17.

    Gracious in defeat as ever from Ferguson, with comments bordering on well, don't want to use the R word as it'll get this comment pulled no doubt, but you know what I mean.

    I applaud the way this blog ahs been written as you have brought out these key points about SAF's comments and actions, well done.

  • Comment number 18.

    It does seem funny to describe it as an English domination of the Champions League –as currently the trophy sits in Spain!

    As for comments about ‘typical Germans’ getting players booked and sent off is a part of the game now. Barcelona I find completely unwatchable as the skilful purity of their passing is tainted by the sour taste of diving and gamesmanship. Manchester United can hardly complain though, they have been the most successful English team at the darker arts of referee baiting for many years now! As for the exact incident in question, was it a booking? Then the ‘German’ protestations don’t come into it – it is a second yellow. It is a shame for the full back, who was having an excellent game up until that point.

    Ferguson starting Rooney was a major surprise, and it was a huge misjudgement too. United went ahead in spite of Rooney’s presence rather than because of it, and he was a passenger for almost all of the first half before finally being taken off. The decision may well have lost the Red Devils more than just a place in the CL semis, his display showed he was clearly not fit – and any further damage to his injury could have a serious impact on United’s title chances.

    As for The Premier League being the best in the world, it is a bigger discussion than just how well the big four do in Europe surely? The big teams in Europe are all very even... United were put out by away goals – they weren’t actually beaten, that is the fine line between success and failure. The Premiership’s representatives have done well in previous seasons, this year they have not. That is football.

    Let’s hope we get some good blogs about Fulham now Phil!

  • Comment number 19.

    SAF as always been a bad loser. And by risking Rooney last night, there will be no sympathy from anyone in England today that’s for sure. As for the EPL teams failure in Europe, is this simply not an indictment of the league at present? Exciting? Yes. Decidedly average teams? Possibly? None of the old big four made serious investment in there squads lately. And Man City has all the money, but can’t seem to attract those massive marquee players just yet. England’s dominate time could be over for a while. For one thing, I reckon the Platini household will be covered in empty champagne bottles this morning that’s for sure…

  • Comment number 20.

    The reality is that Rafael conceded a needless yellow card in the first half through ill-discipline/lack of control which cost his side. With a full complement of players it is inconceivable that United would have conceded more goals without reply. It is also ludricrous to suggest that the second offence wasn't worthy of a card. Modern football has far too much tugging, holding, leading with the arm or the elbow. All such behaviour merits a yellow card. Only when more players are booked and dismissed will the message get through. A physical game should still be a fair one.

  • Comment number 21.

    The decline in the Premier League this season is plain for all to see, but lets not get too carried away. United are a better team than Bayern, and Chelsea are a better team than Inter Milan. If Chelsea and United were to play their two ties again, they would probably win and go through. Both Chelsea and United are better teams than Lyon.

    Yes Arsenal were outplayed by Barcelona, but not embarrassingly so in my opinion. Barcelona happen to have the best player in the World. If he had been playing for Arsenal, they would probably be in the semis now and Brcelona would be out.

    Sometimes these things happen, it's just part of football. I predict that next season English clubs will dominate again, whilst Inter, Bayern and Lyon won't even make the quarter finals.


  • Comment number 22.

    Interesting to hear SAF complaining about Bayern players surrounding the referee to get Rafael sent off. How many times have we seen Man U players aggressively hounding referees into getting their opponents sent off. Pot calling kettle black comes to mind.

  • Comment number 23.

    I think Ferguson was right in what he said, these same governing bodies are supposed to have clamped down on players surrounding the refferee trying to get other players sent of and yet this still continues, so yes Fergie was right in what he said and i totally agree with him. It's about time these players were punished for their theatrics which are spoiling the game. I play sunday morning football and believe me you know you've been kicked when some Drunken idiot catches you but we don't roll round like we have been shot. It's about time these players took a look at themselves and started playing the game properley after all it's supposed to be a contant sport or have they forggoten that.

  • Comment number 24.

    Poor old Fergie. Once again he cannot give credit where credit is due. If events had been the other way around it would have been a case of the opposition getting what they deserved. And as for the 'Typical Germans' comment, I was rolling around the living room laughing me head off because, of course, ol' Red Nose's teams have NEVER resorted to such things.

    A case of the biter bit methinks.

  • Comment number 25.

    this is madness, the PL in decline, how exactly?

    bacasue one team isnt running away with it?
    surely that proves the PL is improving the fact that more teams are beating the 'big' teams.

    anyway i think after a english finlalist for the last 5 years we can hardly worry about their being none in one year, i am not that dissapointed, last year everyone was saying the english teams were dominating the CL , i hope barca win it again this year they are by a distance the best team i have ever seen.

  • Comment number 26.

    The ref was'nt going to show Rafael a second yellow to send him off for a tame challenge that could have been dealt with the usual caution. Instead he was intimidated by a group of German players to to punish the player so they could gain an arithmetical advantage. I agree with SAF this was typical German behaviour, however he and his team paid the penalty for not settling the the away leg the way they could.

  • Comment number 27.

    "Typical Germans"? SAF complains and whines all the time, but I supposed because he has won things so he is allowed, right? No! He is a sore loser and has always been. Never admits that his team was outplayed or well beaten, which they were. Yes they won the game yesterday but in the entire tie Bayern was the better team in both legs. United played well the first 35 minutes of each tie and after that it was all Bayern in both legs. In fact, after the 35th minute yesterday, it was all Bayern till the end (even before the sending off). So what is SAF on about?

    The sending off was absolutely spot on. Rafael, who had an excellent game otherwise and is destined to be a big star in the leg, kicked out at Van Bommel for the first yellow. Spot on yellow card. He then pulled back Ribery who was advancing towards goal. Spot on yellow card as well. Two yellows make a red. What did the "typical Germans" have to do with that? Geez SAF..what a whiner!!!

    The problem is he decided his head fake with Rooney was brilliant. It was not. He had Macheda he could have played to work his socks off. He thought a 50% Rooney is better than anything. Wrong. He and United should accept defeat graciously and move on. Bayern definitely deserves to advance from both legs.

  • Comment number 28.

    The Premier league's decline because we don't have 3 teams in the semis? What on earth? That's the first time in 7 years we don't have a team in the final. Rather than take the glass half empty approach Phil how about realising that the teams from Europe have got a lot better to reach our standard? The English teams will be back next year and I expect one of the 4 teams that qualifies to get through.

  • Comment number 29.

    PragueImp: "I used to enjoy watching the entertaining Man U of old, but this team is very physical and pretty uninspiring (apart from Nani). They need a couple of really good players in there who can do something with the ball."

    How can you say this is an uninspiring team? Seeing the pace of some of ManU's breaks; the dynamism of Valencia, Nani, Rafael, & Rooney; the link up play & defence-splitting passes of Fletcher, Carrick, Gibson - at times it was a joy to watch. So many of the squad can "do something with the ball".

    Football at times is a game of luck. The fact is Robben's goal would not have gone in 99 times out of 100 & ManU would have progressed (I don't believe Bayern would've scored after that); he was being closed down rapidly & had to literally thread the ball through the eye of a needle to score. But Bayern had their luck, and it was a great goal. ManU should not feel ashamed of themselves.

    I still don't believe any other league in the world has the strength IN DEPTH of the Premier League. Having no English teams in the semis for the first time in years does not prove anything conclusively.

  • Comment number 30.

    I am happy to concede United are not the force they were last year, nor are Chelsea. But last night we were develishely unlikely to go out.

    Have to disagree with poster 1)

    Kíllìnghölmê_Clᥠ(aka Charlie Cheesecake) wrote:

    Ferguson's "Typical Germans" comment were an absolute disgrace.

    My response:

    Don't agree with that sorry! Okay Fergie's comment was a bit generic, but lets face it, just as the Italians are told to dive an con the ref, - so are the Germans.

    Look at Ballack since coming to the Premier League, he gets cheap shots in when the ref's got his back turned, think Evra in the Community Shield then pleads his innocence.

    When the boots on the other foot however, he is the first to make a meal of it 'Drogbaesque' style!

    Liverpool have detoriated so badly it's untrue, their shortcomings have been their for all to see this season, and barring a miraculous turn in form, they look unlikely to get into the Champions League this season, - which would be the correct result.

    If the likes of Spurs and City had capitalised on Liverpool's poor form, they would be out of sight.

    Arsenal are probably the only team to improve. They have been competitive this year in the League and are still in with a decent shout!

    Lets look at all top the teams the currently Phil.

    Barcelona are setting the current standard but their defence is fair from inpregnable. As we'v seen their defence can be exposed very easily.

    Chelsea:

    Are probably going to have a clean out in order to compete for Europe again.

    Man United: Strength required up front (injuries haven't helped) midfiled, and defence still strong!

    Madrid with a stronger defence could be a real handful, Arsenal just need a little experience before they can mount a serious challenge, and Inter are a well-drilled side, that can be opened up with high-tempo football.

    I personally don't feel the fact we don't have a representative in the last 4, means we aqre sliding. We have been very fortunate over the last few years to have our teams do so well, so we are judging this years performance against a high- benchmark.

    Lets face it, all the teams our side have gone out to played well over the twolegs.

    Chelsea were masterminded by their old chief, United's could have gone either way, and Arsenal were beaten at their own game by a brillant Barca team... no shame in that!

    So yes it is dissapointing, but their is no need to overhype this decline, with the exception of Barca our teams, certainly Man United are next in line, and as I say Barca can be exposed!

  • Comment number 31.

    5. At 08:34am on 08 Apr 2010, PragueImp wrote:
    I thought Bayern were better than people are giving them credit for. Yes, United deserved to be ahead in the first half, but only just.

    Were you watching the same game? Man Utd were far superior for the first 43 minutes, Bayern had very few chances and United took all of theirs, carving Bayern open.
    The game was decided by the red card and an exceptional goal.

  • Comment number 32.

    @1 I couldn't agree with you more about Fergusons anti German comments. He does have previous, comments about Italians. It is time that Uefa came down heavily on this foul man.

    Perhaps the BBC does not really lose out missing the vitriol that spills out of his mouth everytime his team are bettered.

  • Comment number 33.

    Calm down everyone - it's only a game

  • Comment number 34.

    All this about the Premier league in decline is nonsense.
    Its the same as it was before.
    Barcelona are the best team in Europe for sure, but take them out of La Liga and look at the rest of the league. Real Madrid are the perennial Harlem Globetrotters, full of big names and lots of cash spent with nothing to show for it, as they have been for a decade now.
    Take the 7th placed team in Spain, italy or Germany and pit them against Liverpool, Villa, Everton etc (who are equivalently placed in the PL) and they would get battered.
    We have been extremely spoilt in recent years with the Champions League, with English involvement in the last 5 finals (and an all English final to boot) and 7 years since there was no English club in the semi final.

    Arsenal went out to the best team, probably in the world, no shame in that. You need to be physical with Barca to beat them and Arsenal just dont have thaty about them, they tried to play Barca at their own game, and lets face it....no team is capable of that. Which is why Chelsea and Man Utd have had better luck matching them in recent years than Arsenal did.

    Chelsea just did not perform against Inter at all. Atleast not at Stamford Bridge. They outplayed them at the San Siro but just couldnt find that final ball, they subdued Drogba really well and defended excellently (as all Mourinho teams to). At Stamford Bridge we just didnt turn up at all and they deserved the win for sure.

    Man Utd were extremely unlucky, they lost concentration in the last 20 minutes in Munich and conceded two silly goals. Then at home they went down to 10 and lost to a spectacular Robben goal, but overall they played very well, especially in the first half last night.

    Liverpool....well.....they ARE in decline due to mismanagement and some very questionable owners. but they are unlikely to feature in next years competition anyway.
    Maybe a new club featuring for England is what is needed.
    Question is, will that be Spurs or City?

    Its gotta be between spurs and City now, and I think City will just edge it.

  • Comment number 35.

    Disagree with the conclusions of the blog, and it was Gary Lineker you're quoting not Matthäus. As I said yesterday, The game was up in Munich, the sloppy play (conceding the two goals) and arrogant lack of interest in playing on for a second goal was United's undoing.
    Fergie meant typical German teams (as there were only a handful of Germans on the pitch) and especially Ribery was falling over all the time (as he would do in the Bundesliga) trying to get free kicks for nothing.

    The sending off was, firstly: not justified, secondly: the result of unsporting (and thus punishable by UEFA) behaviour and thirdly: Fergie's own fault, as he knew the lad is young and was already on a yellow, so the best thing would have been to sub him and Rooney at the break.

    As unjust as is Bayern's progression, it is Fergie's own foolishness in not killing off the tie in Munich by allowing the team to tread water, seeing the title race game against Chelsea as more important than finishing off the job in Munich and endangering Rooney's health.

  • Comment number 36.

    Kíllìnghölmê_Clᥠ- It sounds to me that you probably were not one of SAF's admirers before his comments. As for Phil, I'm sorry pal but SAF's comments were not aimed at Ribery or Robben but instead the majority of the squad for thier foul play, thier intent to get Rafael sent off and the injury sustained to Rooney.

    First of all, what do you mean that the 'Rooney gamble' not pay off? Rooney was absolutely fine from the first whistle. Did you not see the three (no need with intent) kicks he got in the same part of the leg he injured last week. That to me as well as 5 players circling the referee demanding for the second yellow WAS disgusting (Kíllìnghölmê)! Rooney did not aggrivate last weeks injury and instead received bruising from the multiple (and no need) digs which he received.

    Rafael was stupid but you cannot pin the blame on him, the ref or the Bayern players. We went to sleep after the third goal and were guilty of letting them back into it - at 3-1 it was never going to be easy. Credit to the players though as we started well in the second half until the sending off. I thought for the first yellow card he reacted really stupidly although he was absolutely taken out of the game. Why was that not a foul? And for the second, it was very soft but still worth a yellow and the referee made a very strong decision so early in the second half. It was also difficult to take because Van Bommel made a horribly tackle just before which went unpunished. It was also very hard to swallow being the team being punished for foul play after the way Bayern acted in the first half, falling over and doing 10 rolly pollys etc. I thought that the young referee had a poor game and was inconsistent throughout.

    I can't have a go at SAF for his comments and Bayern were guilty of some disgusting play but hey ho it just wasn't our day.

  • Comment number 37.

    Typical Germans?Could someone tell him the war ended decades ago?Basil Fawlty?Unnecessary euphemism for xenophobia.United were knocked out and deservedly so.SAF gambled on Rooney and lost.He was completely ineffective and there was nothing special about the pass to Gibson.Bayern allied graft with superb craft and never gave up while not rushing things and taking their time after Rafael got sent off.And the way the knocked the ball about after Robben's sublime goal was a joy to behold as was the sight of United players chasing shadows.
    Danke Bayern!

  • Comment number 38.

    I agree with Kíllìnghölmê_Clᥠ#1

    Ferguson's "Typical Germans" comment is bordering and racist (even though 1/2 the starting team weren't German) and should be hauled up before UEFA for such comment. If bans from following years competitions starting being handed out I'm sure that would do the trick
    Too often managers are quick to critise when results and decisions don't go their way, and "haven't seen the video replay yet" when decisions DO go their way. Stop making excuses for players.

  • Comment number 39.

    What a SPLENDID morning!

    None of The Sky 4 are in the CL semi-finals.

    Excellent news.



  • Comment number 40.

    Any respect I had for Ferguson, and it wasn't much, went out of the window last night after his embarrassing remarks after the game. Utd are out - simple as that - deal with it. It was a second bookable offence, no doubt, and Rafael was right to go. Ok, it wasn't nice to see the Bayern players surround the ref but hang on a minute, how many times have we seen the very same from Utd players on numerous occasions. I'm sick of all this belly aching when things don't go Utd and Fergusons way. The sooner that odious man retires the better. As you say Phil, it says a lot about Berbatov that an obviously unfit Rooney played while the £30m misfit sat on the bench. I truly hope the rest of the season goes just as badly for Utd.
    One more thing. Has anyone noticed how quite the Utd fans get when things aren't going to plan. Plastic supporters!!!!

  • Comment number 41.

    Ribery, and the entire Munich team were trying to get players booked all night long. Ribery is a good player - but a very poor sportsman - not that Ferguson should be surprised about that at all. Bottom line was - it was a 2nd bookable offence.

    The ironic thing was that Ribery had not even had a kick in the 1st half due to how well Rafael was playing. The risk of playing someone so inexperienced is that this sort of thing happens. Overall though - this bodes well for the future, no matter how frustrating last night was. Bayern won't get past Lyon in the semis.......

  • Comment number 42.

    I agree with you Phil that this season in the Premier League despite the closeness of the title race, in terms of quality is one of the poorest I've seen. All credit to whoever finishes top of the pile but surely they must rate as one of the weakest teams to ever win the EPL. Whatever the rights and wrongs in the matches I think most fans would agree the truth is none of the English teams were good enough to win the CL this year. The worry is in order to raise the level are we going to see more money spent on players to rebuild teams and put the clubs on an even more uncertain financial footing?

  • Comment number 43.

    I thought Bayern were better than people are giving them credit for. Yes, United deserved to be ahead in the first half, but only just. They looked good going forward but never looked comfortable in midfield and defence. It always looked like Bayern were going to score in the first half.

    *************************************

    Either you weren't watching the same game or you only saw a few fragments of the game. Bayern were nowhere, even Beckenbauer said as much. They had one chance and I thought Olic shoved Carrick (maybe not) which would normally have been blown. Bayern had two attacks in the first half and Ribery and Robben were totally unable to skin teams down the flanks as they do @home in the Bundesliga. In a word they were "rubbish", the ref being talked into the sending off and the goal before the break gifted Bayern all they needed to take them through.

  • Comment number 44.

    Classy in defeat as always Sir Alec ...

  • Comment number 45.

    Have to agree with #22, was about to post the same thing.

    Most United players Keane, Neville et al have made careers out of surrounding the referee when a decision doesn't go their way, so now it's happened once to him it's a disgrace?

    Does this mean he will now stop his own players from surrounding the referee?? Thought not!

  • Comment number 46.

    The failure of the English Teams to reach the later stages of the Champions league has been attributed to many things, but I believe it is deep rooted in the standard of refereeing in the Premier league.

    I'n not talking about whether Mike Dean should or should not have given a penalty in a high profile match, but more about the general approach English referees take to a game. There is an 'English Way' in Premiership games that referees allow a different type of tackle that would be blown up immediately by a European referee. Referees can dictate the tempo and style of football.

    The consequence of this? - European teams adapt their play to this system of refereeing - i.e. Xavi knows how to nick a ball away from an opponent without giving away a foul - Alves & co. know how to hound an Arsenal player into submission without committing an offence.

    Over the last 10 years the influx of foreign players and managers has transformed the game as they bring their knowledge and experience into our game. This is how the game develops. Unfortunately our referees have not really changed in that period and consequently the standard of referring remains static. Until they are exposed to a different style of refereeing or we allow foreign officials to referee in the Premier league I fear the gap will widen.

  • Comment number 47.

    Thanks Phil for a funny (Ferguson = Fawlty) and impartial analysis of the match. Robben and Ribery are as much Germans as the Premier League is English. We will see in South Africa where English (and German) football really stands.

  • Comment number 48.

    I cannot get over this myth that English teams have dominted the champions league the last few years - surely to dominate means to win?

    Only two victories despite so many semi-finalists is a poor return and if you look at the ten winners of the noughties four were spanish, two Italian, Two English, one each German and Portuguese.

    There were three same country finals 2000 Spanish, 2003 Italian & 2008 English.

    And in 2007 and 2009 england had three semi finalists and still didn't win the cup.

    That's some domination.

  • Comment number 49.

    It appears to me that certain managers and players do not know what having one yellow card means.Jose Mourinho does and if one of his more feisty players gets a yellow he watches the situation and will take the player off if he is in the slightest doubt.Rafael showed immaturity beyond belief getting himself sent off and Sir Alex Fergusson is to blame also for not drumming into Rafaels head not to do something stupid.The other thing that I find amazing is that commentators like from ITV last night still dont understand the away goals rule,with one of them saying that when United were three up that they had a two goal cushion.If they would like to phone me up ,my six year old grandson will explain to them why it was a one goal cushion!

  • Comment number 50.

    Was PragueImp watching the same game, 'Robben the best player on the night' he only did one thing all night and while it was a good goal it does not afford him the title of best player, get real.

    Also I am sick of hearing about if only they had Tevez and Ronaldo, will this ever stop, write off United and SAF at your peril.

  • Comment number 51.

    I am sorry Phil but you are being too lenient on Ferguson. His comments were disgraceful, if you change the word 'Germans' for lets say 'Mexicans' or 'Pakistanis' and we would be talking about a whole different ball game. It seems to me that SAF is able to bully the media along with the FA, referees and his players, and even if this has given him a track record of success, his comments last night were racist, quite simple. Just because we in England accept such comments against the Germans and because they will not make a fuss it does not mean we should accept it. I hope UEFA throw the book at him, what a sore loser.
    As for the game, Utd were unlucky, fantastic first half, weak defending for Olic's goal, silly sending off (but correct) and fantastic goal by Robben. Utd are not as good as last year and it showed.

  • Comment number 52.

    I could not believe the gall of Suralex complaining about 'typical germans' surrounding the ref....... Man Utd are the very worse team I have EVER seen for chasing a ref down and surrounding him!!!

  • Comment number 53.

    Of course Fergie will be shot at for his typical Germans comment. It was in the heat of the moment and after a nasty bitter lost where really his side showed they had enough to win, but found a series of 'unfortunate' events to pluck defeat from victory. Call it luck or bad luck, whatever, to lose a game from where they were and how they were playing was a massive disappointment.
    It is not unknown for German sides to use a grinding and spoiling and streetwise tactics to change the balance of a game. I have witnessed many incredible German dives and rolls in 'awful pain' down the years that quite frankly make me sick, and yes they are not the only country that does it, they certainly do it very well and I know German fans that admit it too that it is a common disease over there. And I was not impressed with Ribery showing the yellow card, he should have been booked for that too, and for everyone who points out Ribery is French, he does when I last looked play for a German club. It also looked like Van Buyten targeted Rooney.
    I have seen foreign managers (including the suddenly so gracious Van Gaal, nice hair by the way) and also the lovely Mr Platini make sneering comments about the English style of play in the past, especially in defeat, even when we have won the CL they have taken the gloss away with negative comments.
    I felt this year Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool all deserved to be knocked out when they did, not so United who were beaten by an ugly Bayern side.
    As for the decline of the PL sides I felt at the start of the season this would happen as each side seemed to be in a transition phase after losing players or have problems and therefore a bit weaker than before. They were due a dip in this competition. Couple with that I thought there were big teams in Europe who had to be getting their act together and be stronger again, and could not keep failing, the big Italian sides, Real Madrid and Bayern. However you have to say the draw was not kind this season with 4 of the knockout ties we landed being Barca, Bayern and the 2 Milans when there were plenty of other sides that we would have landed and indeed all the matches between the elite sides has involved English teams when if Barca and Bayern had drawn each other in the last 16 we could still have 2 sides in the last 4 right now.

  • Comment number 54.

    Ferguson's players have been pressurizing referee's in to decisions for years, he just got some of his own medicine and as usual didn't like it.

    It was a yellow card in todays game though.

  • Comment number 55.

    The standard of football journalism is more in decline than the Premier League. Almost every view is based on one or two matches or one season. For the first time for several years the PL doesn't have a representative in the CL semi finals (wow!) and suddenly it's 'in decline'??
    Yet we have two teams in the QF of the Europa League, one of them in a strong position to go through tonight (Fulham - who'd have thought that a few months ago?).

    Is it not more likely that (a) the teams in the other leagues are catching up (indeed, the same is likely to be true of the PL itself, that other teams are catching up with the 'big four') or (b) it might, you know, just be a one off year? We'll know more about any possible decline in a couple of years time.

    Sadly, this was another utterly predictable 'knee-jerk reaction' article with no real basis in fact, other than stating the bleedin' obvious regarding Ferguson's remarks. A further sign of 'a decline' in BBC standards, more like.


  • Comment number 56.

    If I may talk loud and clear...
    As the power of the Sterling Pound and the pockets of the club owners dropped... the results also dropped.
    Supremacy in Europe was only a matter of 3/4 rich clubs with newcomers City trying to join in now ...
    It was mostly a success based in contracting a bunch of foreign laborers... (The best managers mostly and of course players and even club owners in some cases...)
    When was the last time an English manager won in Europe? When was the last time an English manager won the Premiership !!??
    Allow me to set an example with Spurs, where is not so much about the money or the foreigners...
    Anyway.
    It wasn't that good before it isn't so bad now... I believe that since there is such a serious shortage of English talent both in managers and players, losing influence in Europe is not such an unnatural situation...

  • Comment number 57.

    The only comment Ferguson made which reflected on him in any way other than a shining light was the "typical Germans" one. And, aside from this generalisation, he was correct. United played really well, and were unlucky not to win the tie. The sending off was correct, but one of the attributing "bad-luck" factors.

    I disagree with Phil's point that the gamble did not pay off. Plenty of other factors are involved in the winning of a game of football. The decision to use a less-than-fit Wayne Rooney was not the contributing factor. From the performance in the first half, the only conclusion can be that the gamble was successful. It was due to other incidents on the pitch that the game was lost. Rafael showed some immaturity to go with his fantastic performance, and Robben showed that if you let him cut in too many times, he'll score.

    I won't go as far as to say United deserved to win, because the team who scores the most goals (over the two legs obviously) are the team who deserve to win. But on another day, with a little luck on their side, this could have been a repeat of the 7-1 thrashing of Roma. But it wasn't to be.

  • Comment number 58.

    Post 10.

    I note in one of your previous posts you describe yourself as 'neutral'. I also note that virtually every post you have made has a biassed pop at Manchester United. And you call yourself 'truthseeker'!! Hypocrite or what?

  • Comment number 59.

    From the BBC match report -

    And asked later whether he stood by his contention that the Bayern players had been wrong to protest about Rafael's challenge on Ribery, Ferguson confirmed: "Yes.

    "It was typical professionalism in a way but they saw the opportunity and they almost forced the referee to get the card out - the referee wasn't going to do anything. But we've seen it before from teams like that."

    Yes we have seen disgraceful scenes of irate players surrounding the referee doing their utmost to influence his decision...... now where was that....???

  • Comment number 60.

    Agree, as I stated clearly in the blog, that Ferguson's "typical Germans" remark did him no credit. The bottom line is that Rafael deserved to go off.

    Louis van Gaal was totally unimpressed, calling into question of what he believes is the English tradition of fair play. A smile played across this outstanding coach's face when presented with Ferguson's remark that United would not have lost with 11 men.

    "We shall never know because this game will not be played again."

    When I talk about the decline of the Premier League, I just feel there has been a dropping off in quality and standards from the teams at the top. Look at the defeats they have suffered domestically this season.

    Ferguson gave the game away about Rooney when he stated "we felt it was worth the risk." So there was an element of risk and ultimately it did not work out.

    It was Olic's goal right on half-time, helped by rank bad defending, that changed everything.

    Where do United fans think this tie was lost? And has the competition caught up the Premier League as far as the Champions League is concerned?

    If Manchester United fail to win the title, does Ferguson need to conduct a revamp of his squad or should there just be minor tweaks?

    And the big question...was he wrong to risk Rooney?



  • Comment number 61.

    Poor Fergie was stading on the touchline in the final minutes and acting as a linesman. He was raising his hands to indicate all thow-ins should go to United. DESPERATE MAN

    And one thing that is beyond discussion anymore is : He chose a semi-fit Rooney instead of a fully fit Berbatov. If I were Berbatov, I would start thingking....but as well it says something about Ferguson and him purchasing the Bulgarian for £30m. Tottenham must be very happy.

    And how Tevez would have done a difference last night.....

  • Comment number 62.

    You have to laugh really, Ferguson complaining about players surrounding referees??? His teams have been some of the worst for doing that over the years and here he is berating others for doing it.
    Yes. it's wrong and should be stanmped out but for him to bleat on about it is an absolute joke.

  • Comment number 63.

    Can all those getting their knickers in a twist about Sir Alec's "typical Germans" comment just calm down! I'm not particularly a SAF or United fan, but I still took his comments with a pinch of salt & found it quite amusing. Obviously it's a case of sour grapes & doesn't look good for him, but ranting & raving calling it a disgrace etc.. calm down!

    Whatever happened to the good-natured rivalry between English & German teams? It's just a bit of banter.

    When Mourinho says something controversial everyone loves it, so let's just calm down people.

  • Comment number 64.

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  • Comment number 65.

    Despite being a lifelong Man U supporter, I have to say I called the key moments in the game last night after seeing the team sheets before kick off. Carrick has been a liability all season and under his half hearted challenge Olic had no problem in brushing him aside for the opening goal. It was another game where he (Carrick) was completely ineffective and hopefully his days are numbered. I liken him to Lucas at Liverpool, not a bad player, but certainly not good enough for a top four team. With regards Rafael, how many times has he been sent off for lunges and rash challenges over the past couple of seasons. Ribery was too much for Neville last week and I think we could all see he would be too much for Rafael, which he proved. As for Berbatov, I've championed him since he signed, but sadly he's not lived up to the hype. Time for a clear out at Old Trafford.

  • Comment number 66.

    ”The great Lothar Matthäus once claimed football is a simple game ... etc.“

    If my memory does not betray me, it was Gary Lineker who said that. Which makes even more sense when you consider the fact, that Matthäus sure was a great player - but more notorious than famous for his talking ... ;-)

  • Comment number 67.

    'Rooney United' were...... oh! hang on, Rooney didnt play for long
    Let me correct
    'No Rooney United' dumped out of Europe by Bayern. Yet another failure of a one man team.

  • Comment number 68.

    It is usual for SAF to use a somescreen (usually the referee) to cover up some tactical mistake/selection error/below par performance and this was no different. Before the game he was asked at a press conference whether he was concerned that Ribery was too quick for Gary Neville and SAF proceeded to say that Neville could match Ribery for pace and that he had no concerns in that area. SAF selected the inexperienced Rafael who is sent off for pulling back Ribery after he goes past him. Ferguson gambled by picking Rafael and it backfired - his inexperience cost United dear. Regarding Bayern players surrounding the ref, let's be honest if the shoe had been on the other foot United players would have been all over the ref as well.

  • Comment number 69.

    erm this is european football, where a match can determine who progresses rather than 38. it is great to see other nations catching up because quite frankly it was getting boring seeing united, chelsea and liverpool in the semis year in year out. im an arsenal fan but we've only been in the semis twice, final once so we were never really a consitentaly dominant team in europe to begin with.

    also i have to say the comment "embarrsingly one sided" is disrespectful. we saw the two sides of barca which make them the best team in the world. first leg showed their team performance. second showed when messi is on form he inspires all around him and they become unstoppable. it doesnt help that we had 5 of our best 11 out for the 2nd leg either, something the media failed to acknowledge time and time again in the last week.

    i feel we had the best campaign of the english sides cos we scored plenty of goals whilst getting knocked out by the best team in the world and most likely the eventual winners. united bottled it quite frankly although bayern were brilliant at times. very good possession side.

    and to be honest i didnt know what the experts expected from us. barca proved too strong for united last season. did you so called experts really think arsenal missing their players could cope with a team that is better than united and chelsea,two teams who have reigned supreme over us this season. it was always going to be very hard. but i feel 6-3 isnt that bad actually. especially considering one of theose 6 came late on when the tie was over.

    chelsea were the victims of an inspired inter side. a little unlucky away from home not to get at least a draw. theyll be back next season im sure. united boittled it last night and should be in the semis but they were too comfortable. liverpool were shocking but make no judgements yet. if they qualify this season theyll be better next time round im sure.

    further evidence of the dropping of qaulity you say. it is one season so hold your horses. also we've been told all season it has been great to see the others catch up and that is my sentiments. it is clear that when united and chelsea have just turned up to away games this season thinking 3 points assured theyve been punished cos the others have stepped up. as for me im ok with the season cos arsenal have actually improved on last seasons performance and with some new signings we may make another step up.

  • Comment number 70.

    He's supposed to set an example for people, and especially impressionable teenagers and children.

    I'm no Bayern Munich fan, but Ferguson's "Typical Germans" comment is borderline racism.

    It's not like Man Utd don't gather round the ref and pressure him into giving things their way either.

    Hang your head in shame Alex.

  • Comment number 71.

    Man U gifted Bayern the tie by going back to their defensive ways that were so unsuccessful last week in Munich. Carrick and Fletcher have been exposed as players not suitable to hold up the ball and Fletcher as a holding midfielder is far too easily shrugged off the ball (e.g. against Malouda last weekend), leaving the defence exposed. Man U are not the team they were, however I am sure with a few signings they could be back to their former selves.

    Whilst I do not think they played well, the sending off was contentious and Ribery did help persuade the referee to book Rafael for a second time. Unfortunately this is now common place amongst the game, and Ferguson and his men are old hands a berating and trying to manipulate the referee. Unless the authorities make it clear that they will severley punish poor sportsmanship the rewards of manipulating the referee will be continually exploited.

    Man U and Ferguson should be disappointed in themselves and at least give Bayern the credit they deserve instead of creating a blame smokescreen to hide their own failings.

  • Comment number 72.

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  • Comment number 73.

    Was playing Rooney a risk tho Phil?
    Surely SAF would have gotten reports from all the physios at Man Utd, and if they thought that playing him would seriously threaten him in the long term, im sure SAF wouldnt have played him.

    I think they should rest him against Blackburn or just bring him on in the second half if they need a goal, then he should be fine.

    Remember we also want to keep him match fit for the world cup!

  • Comment number 74.

    To all the band of Manucentric (anglocentric) out there that predicated that you would beat Barca in the final and that you would neutralize Messi in the process must have come as a terrible shock to have been eliminated by a very poor Bayern Munich team after being 3-0 up at home and finally being knocked out by a goal from Robben who had spent most of the first half trying to stay on his feet.

    Strange that SAF blamed the Germans, normally its the Dutch (RvN & JS) and to lose to LvG the trainer from Bayern that just prior to their winter stop was one game away from being fired must really really hurt.

  • Comment number 75.

    I thought there was meant to be a policy about players surrounding the ref? or trying to get players sent off by waving a pretend card around?
    Basically, ref's cannot not cope. They are not supported by technology and are easily intimidated by opposing players and the crowd. A player who is agressive, verbally or physically,toward the ref should be booked. how often do we see this? Instead we see the player dismissed who has committed (or not in some cases) a foul and every one is entitled to rush the ref the next time something happens. It is a disgrace; mimicked at all levels of football. May be Blatter should realise that not using technology actually increases the poor aspects of football.

    Unfortunately, Mr Ferguson should be the last person to comment for how many times do we see Ferdinand, Fletcher, Neville et al this season do exactly what he criticised 'the Germans' for doing.

    If we had fair results, Chelsea would have knocked Barcelona out last season and Inter this season and I'm not even a Chelsea fan. Football is dominated by the decisions of Referees which thanks to unfair play in all aspects of the game, is an impossible job in its present form

  • Comment number 76.

    Alex Ferguson does no credit to himself with his petulance. At his heart he is a small and petty man. How long now is it that he has refused to speak to the Beeb just because of his percieved slight at the hands of a reporter? Every time it's someone else cheating, bullying the referee or diving.

    All I can say is that it is just as well that Man U players never do any of those things.

    Never have we seen screaming Man U players jostling the match officials and trying to influence their decisions by intimidation. Never have we seen Man U players diving to win penalties or to trick the match officials into red or yellow carding an opponent. Never have we seen Alex Ferguson yelling at match officials or gesturing to them to blow the whistle or change a decision.

    As to his latest "typical Germans" remark all I can say is "typical Alex Ferguson!"

  • Comment number 77.

    "What a SPLENDID morning!

    None of The Sky 4 are in the CL semi-finals.

    Excellent news."

    Thanks for this quote, it made me laugh.....oh the bitterness of mediocrity. Keep hoping mate, maybe you'll get a top 10 finish oooooh wouldn't that be lovely.

    As for last night Man U paid the price for the arrogance of the first leg when they didn't chase the 2nd goal. Rafael deserved to go no matter what Fergie says, he was an idiot for kicking out but then Fergie is a damn fool for not subbing him. The red card probably changed the game although Bayern had started to look a lot more lively after the Olic goal and the game was sewn up with a bit of individual quality from Robben that reminds me why Chelsea were mad to let him slip away.

  • Comment number 78.

    Excellently summed up Phil.

    Your comments all very accurately reflect the twists and turns of last night and the last few days.

    Got to agree with truthseeker at #10. The itv commentary was terrible, all from a Man Utd perspective, no real insights and extremely unprofessional. Man Utd were clearly better in the first half, but anything done well by Bayern was just ignored until the Robben goal.

    Ferguson has shown a lack of respect many times for other teams, managers and referees, this was no different. Throughout it all my respect for van Gaal has only increased, he says things as he sees them:

    "We beat United with Rooney, so it makes no difference to us whether he plays or not."

    and

    "I don't share Sir Alex's opinion. Part of being a player is control. Every player must know if you pick up one yellow card, a second one means a sending off. Did the red card change the game? We shall never know. It is easy to say that after a loss. This game shall not be played again. I think [Ferguson] is just disappointed."

    Ferguson has shown just how petty, childish and immature he is. It was nice to see a manager with pride and confidence; and also someone who unlike Ferguson has joined the rest of us in adulthood.

  • Comment number 79.

    Two goals conceded in each of the last three games tells you what you need to know about United's predicament. Ben interesting to see what SAF does this off-season, but he surely needs some more quality in that half of the pitch.

  • Comment number 80.

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  • Comment number 81.

    Where are all the Utd fans? Surely they are not still traveling home to Essex, Kent, Hampshire etc.

    Phil:

    The tie was lost in the 1st leg.

    If Utd fail to win the league, which I sincerely hope happens, Ferguson should retire and give us all a break.

    It was a bad mistake to play Rooney - isn't a £30m player good enough to step in as replacement?

  • Comment number 82.

    Liquid (29)
    ‘Valencia, ... Rafael, ..... Fletcher, Carrick, Gibson’
    Yes, all uninspiring mediocre players. No other top European club has as many average players as United. Ferguson gets them playing very well as a unit, but for the neutral it certainly isn’t inspiring and entertaining.

    Andy t (50)
    Robben did much more than just score a goal – United’s defence had real trouble with him (admittedly mostly after the red card)

    I don’t think we are writing United off – they have a good (but not excellent) deep squad and a good manager. I just don’t think they can challenge at the very top at the moment.

  • Comment number 83.

    Rafael looked like he was going to get himself sent off from the beginning. SAF should have taken off Rooney after the 3rd goal and substituted Rafael during the half time. Anyway we have not been playing well enough this season to warrant another final.

    Oh and Mr McNulty, sure Ribery is french but it was pretty obvious he was talking in the context of Bayern being a German team! Germans as in members of a German team(playing in Germany if its still not clear). Surely its not too difficult to comprehend??

  • Comment number 84.

    European Clubs have not improved since last season. The "Top 4" English clubs have entered a decline this season, and their standards have lowered. This was bound to happen at some point, as their standards have been so high in previous seasons.

    Liverpool: Well we all know that they arent as good last season

    Man U: Fragile defence at beginning of season, and they (the defence) havent rediscovered their form/consistency since. Plus, even though Rooney and other players have stepped up to the mark, they do miss Ronaldo's flair.

    Chelsea: Again, not as consistent as last season. Dropping points that they wouldnt of done last year.

    Arsenal: Only team that it would be reasonable to say have upped their game since last season. Still dont have the consistency of the other top 4 clubs had last season, but are getting there. IF they get a couple of players in this summer, and keep hold of their current ones......... Plus, in all fairness, they were beaten by arguably the best club in Europe - though I would like to see a replay of the match without Messi. My mate is a Barca fan and is always saying "Forca Barca". I have been winding him up by saying that it is "Forca Messi" not Forca Barca.


  • Comment number 85.

    ps. What is typical is that the English get the blame for everything. Phil, couldn't you at least point out that the person who made the comment was Scottish. The German's may have difficulty distinguishing but surely you can't.......?

  • Comment number 86.

    In hindsight Fergie should have listened to the medical staff about Rooney instead of as it appears, arrogantly brushing their opinions aside on the fitness of Rooney. Berbatov should have started and then at least United could have brought on Rooney in the second half and played him for the last 20 minutes or so. Reckless decision by United that may yet cost England later this year. Nice one Fergie.

    As always Fergie chooses to focus on the neagative side of the opposition rather than acknowledge Robben's brilliant goal - and United's uncharacteristically weak defending. You could see what that goal meant to Robben, having been hecked throughout the match, and during his time with Chelsea when playing at OT.

    If last night provided the first shock then an even bigger shock of seismic proportions awaits.......as I can see Inter knoecking out Barcelona in the semis, and them going on to meet Bayern in the Final. All Inter have to do is stop Messi from getting near the ball - an impossible task you may think, but not for the Special one. An Inter - Bayern final could be fascinating. Mourinho V Van Gaal. Can't wait!

  • Comment number 87.

    Ferguson as ever, cannot bring himself to admit that Manu were beaten by a better team. And as for his comment on "typical Germans" getting Rafael sent off, who recalls the photograph of a screaming Roy Keane, Ryan Giggs, Jaap Staam, David Beckham and Phil Neville surrounding a referee to get an opponent sent off? Everything that goes around, comes around.

  • Comment number 88.

    Well, here we go again - when Man Utd win, it is because they are focussed and well prepared - when they lose it is somebody else's fault. Wake up and smell the coffee - Man Utd are basically an underachieving side over the past ten years with their vast array of assets and talent at their disposal. Plenty of trophies - yes, but nowhere near enough.
    Very poor Mr Ferguson - 3-0 up and blew it - there is the truth.

  • Comment number 89.

    Take the 7th placed team in Spain, italy or Germany and pit them against Liverpool, Villa, Everton etc (who are equivalently placed in the PL) and they would get battered.

    -------------------------------------------------------------------
    Would they? Villa got knocked out in the Europa League qualifying round by Rapid Vienna, Spurs couldn't beat Sevilla a couple of years ago and Everton got dismantled by Benfica and Sporting Lisbon, the latter of which are 4th in the Portuguese league, which is far weaker than the Spanish.

    Also Fiorentina are 8th in Serie A and they beat Liverpool home and away. Not sure your point stands up.

  • Comment number 90.

    Rafael was booked twice correctly in my opinion. Pure inexperience. Although I thought many of Bayerns players were a bunch of cry babies - Ribery (by the way £60million your having a giraffe) van bommel & robben are all players that have the wrong attitude for youngsters.

    Well done Bayern. with the extra man they played exceptionally, though Utd decided to atempt to defend for 40minutes which is basically a lamb to the slaughter. Robben took the goal well but both goals were poor defensively by Utd.

    Fergie's comments should be examined & he reprimanded as you can't generalise in disparaging ways when you are supposedly a manager of such high regard.

    Agreed with an earlier poster that Utd lost the tie in the first leg when they should have finished Bayern of then. I specifically remeber Nani missing a great chance to make it 2-0 early on. Anyways, good luck to Lyon & Bayern & lets hope those games are as exciting.

  • Comment number 91.

    He was right to risk Rooney because it's his job to win football matches for Manchester United and he felt this gave him the best chance to do that.

    Rafael a definite sending off? I guarantee that we will see tugging like that in pretty much every Premier league game this weekend and it will not be carded, if Ribery hadn't decided to check his run and lunge 2 feet sideways at Rafael he wouldn't even have lost the ball, and the way the Bayern players brandished their imaginary cards was distasteful and something you just don't see in the English game. Lord knows that other managers have made allusions to dark practices from "continentals" before now.

    Decline in the Premier league? Not really, history tells us that United were unlikely to win 4 league titles and reach three Champions League finals on the trot, Chelsea were undone by losing their first choice fullbacks and Michael Essien, Arsenal were undone by their manager's refusal to countenance playing anything other than pretty football even with the handicap of a squad shorn of it's stars and facing a team that's better at playing pretty football.

    Still at least you called Ferguson a bad loser Phil, and you'll always find agreement on BBC Messageboards for witless populist spouting like that.

  • Comment number 92.

    Ferguson's comment about 'typical Germans' did him no credit eh? I suggest that the BBC look at their own attitude towards Germany and their team during major competitions before they start crticising.

  • Comment number 93.

    Andy T..... exactly, thats what got my goat about the sending off. If you're saying Rafael's little tug which still left Ribery standing 35 yards is a yellow card then Van Bommel flattening Rafael 25 yards out has to be a second yellow and off in the first half. Manchester United didn't mob the referee and he stayed on. Additionally I thought players were supposed to be given a yellow card for telling players to book someone, so surely Van Bommel should have had a card as well and seen red for his efforts?

  • Comment number 94.

    And the big question...was he wrong to risk Rooney?

    hell no, its was Rooney's presence that Utd got 3 goals, he took the pressure off his teammates whence creating space for them, after he seemed to limp and was eventually taken off, Utd dint look that creative, plus there is no need for a haul though Gary, Scholey and Giggsy should be limited to 15 games a season coming on as subs once the win is gauranteed

  • Comment number 95.

    A big mistake starting Rooney and generally poor judgement by Fergy on the night. face it, United were beaten fair and square.

  • Comment number 96.

    C.Ranaldo did years of diving at Man Utd. Should I call it Typical English. Sir Alex your comments are not worthy of your title you are carrying with your name.

  • Comment number 97.

    Whoever nominated Ferguson for a knighthood for 'services to sport' needs to look up the word 'sporting' in the dictionary - because he isn't!

  • Comment number 98.

    Your assertions about the match and Fergies comments I agree with. however your assertion that suddenly after being in the last two finals, English clubs are finished in Europe, and that is what you assert albeit in other words, is nonsense. Once again you have seen some musicans on a wagon and jumped aboard to sing to their tune, without ever looking to see where the wagon is really going.
    United may be out of the champions league, but for 60 mins last night they were giving Bayern a Stern lesson.
    Fergie should have seen by now, that Scholes and Neville are two slow. His best team albiet with a fitter Rooney or Berbatov is that one that played last night.
    We all know Rafael is liable to the red card so O Shea should have started, then the match would have been different. It was a one off, if it happened in the qualifying, no one would have written United off. Yes it's a bitter blow. But finally the youngsters have proven their worth, a settled team is in existence, and next season United will sweep the boards. Perhaps except against Barca, but Fergies swansong will be one to remember.

  • Comment number 99.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 100.

    I do honestly wonder at times if deals are done "behind closed doors" just like in F1, no great outpouring of emotion was displayed by ManU players either in Munich or in Manchester. As a German side has not progressed for years, it may have been feared that the largest footballing nation in Europe was starting to loose interest in the CL (and thus not spending money to watch it).
    Just as the scandalous exit of Chelsea last season when Drogba got his ban, there are some very dodgy things that go off. I'm certainly no United fan but you have to wonder at times, when Platini condemns the "English" game, but stops short of "openly" threatening to take it on that deals are done and ref's primed to steer certain clubs out of the competition.

    BTW I really do think SAF was incredibly greedy risking Rooney's health and England's WC chances for a home tie when the week before he wasted the advantage ManU had by not insisting that they go out-and-out for a win.

 

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