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Jose bows to Man Utd power

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Phil McNulty | 00:18 UK time, Thursday, 12 March 2009

Jose Mourinho left Old Trafford a loser - but "the Special One" was still pure box office as he threw his weight behind the growing belief that Manchester United can successfully pull off their historic pursuit of five trophies.

It was not just Manchester United's Champions League win against Inter Milan that was a complete lock-out. The same applied to Mourinho's after-match inquest.

Mourinho's charisma is such that the doors were slammed shut on Old Trafford's media theatre as demand for spaces outstripped supply while he held court.

It took a dash through a briefly unlocked door and a dart beneath a cameraman's armpit to catch Mourinho's words. Undignified but undoubtedly worthwhile: especially when it came to hearing his verdict on his old foe Sir Alex Ferguson's attempt to write fresh chapters in United's history.

mourinho_438ap.jpg

Mourinho's Inter had chances to halt United's march towards history in a spell of domination that followed Nemanja Vidic's early goal, but they were betrayed by misplaced generosity in front of goal and Cristiano Ronaldo's second settled matters with an air of inevitability.

United stumbled over their lines after that ideal start. They were uncharacteristically wasteful in possession, with Paul Scholes an unlikely culprit, and Ferguson was brutally honest in his assessment that his side were fortunate still to be ahead at the interval.

Ferguson's face was hardly a mask of joy unconfined as he dissected the night's events. He wore the expression of a man who knew his side had got away with it during that careless opening 45 minutes.

But, in the manner of champions, they overcame their own shortcomings to win in a style that, while not exactly ugly, was hardly picture perfect.

Mourinho saw through United's failings on the night to examine the wider vista. And if you are a United fan, you will enjoy his verdict on the view.

He used the age and experience of United's squad as a measure of their capability to win the quintuple, and believes they are reaching a perfect pitch. He likes the average age of the side, around 26 and 27, and the blend of players on either side of that bracket.

Mourinho has been on a charm offensive aimed in the direction of Old Trafford in recent weeks - regarded by some as an early application for a managerial vacancy that may yet be some years in becoming available - but this was an assessment made via a clinical analysis rather than platitudes.

Ironically, it was delivered after a performance that could hardly be ranked among United's vintage European efforts. It did not have the flow and fluidity of Liverpool's thrashing of Real Madrid, but on nights like this good sides get the job done and United did.

A word of caution though. United may not find their next opponents as incapable as Inter in the matter of taking chances. Ambitions can be wrecked by a single goal at this stage and United came perilously close to conceding one on several occasions before progressing.

The fare was not to the liking of Ferguson, who described it as "one of those long European nights when you don't know whether you're watching a game of football or a game of suicide".

He was grim-faced as he condemned the garnish United attempt to sprinkle on their play early on, but issued a warning that they had overcome a genuinely hazardous hurdle in the shape of Mourinho and Inter and would be all the better for it in the quarter-finals.

Ferguson will demand that as a minimum requirement, because Old Trafford was a nervous place to be at times during a slack first half last night. United were fortunate Inter were as adept as wasting chances as they were at creating them.

ronaldo_438gi.jpg

It should also be stressed that once Ronaldo scored, a semblance of normal service was resumed and United ended the game in extreme comfort.

Mourinho, so often accused of being sour in defeat, was dignified and once again proved that he is one of the major figures in world football, even in a losing cause.

I am an unabashed Mourinho admirer and would welcome him back to the Premier League tomorrow. And you suspect that, even among the predictable abuse that rolled down from Old Trafford's stands in his direction, there remains a grudging regard for the man in black from United's supporters.

Will he back one day as United's manager? He did suggest, only half-jokingly, that Sir Alex might go on for another 20 years, but Mourinho has the profile, confidence and success rate to suggest he would be as good a successor as anyone.

He stood alone on the touchline as Inter slumped to defeat, ignoring suggestions from Old Trafford that he should return to his seat. It almost seemed like an act of typical defiance as he refused to take a backward step from his technical area, even when his race was run in the dying minutes.

Mourinho was then happy to acknowledge this was United's night, and that his own plans to regain the Champions League he claimed at Porto in 2004 may be some way off.

The domination exerted on Europe's elite competition by the Premier League - with Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool joining United in the last eight again in what is almost becoming an annual show of strength - is not making his task any easier.

Mourinho knows the score: "This is a process this is not a miracle."

Some would regard United winning five trophies this season as a miracle of sorts. Not Mourinho - he believes this is one more dream Ferguson can make come true.

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    JM would need to accept that he's not bigger than the club to be boss of MU. I can't see that happening...

  • Comment number 2.

    ...and 5 trophies? They stumbled past Inter, so I can't see any other lapses of concentration in the CL. And will still be hurting after defeat by Portsmouth in the FA cup, so that's also a likely success. Saturday will be a draw vs Liverpool, which will suit them fine too. Yes, 5 ntrophies is very possible.

  • Comment number 3.

    Hmmm... nobody else wwants to comment. Well, I have one more thought, a worry, actually for MU. They'd vsurvive without Ronaldo, Rooney, Berbatov etc., but once Giggs' body realises its age, they will miss that guy! He was the difference last night, as he has so often been this season.

  • Comment number 4.

    Mourinho needs to come back to England! Serie A has old and has been players. All the younger stars are attracted to the premiership. Unless he comes back home to Stamford Bridge, i'm afraid he won't stand any chance of winning the champions league. Ultimately, Inter want to be champions of Europe, if they don't get that next season, Mourinho will be fired! Come back home now & avoid the heartbreak!

  • Comment number 5.

    I was surprised by Mourinho's acceptance of Utd. Either he's mellowed since he was Chelsea manager or he truly admires the Red Machine and that they can perform poorly against the top team in Italy, and still win. Sure it wasn't great, the small mention of Liverpool's drubbing of Real suggests we'd be disappointed as Utd fans with that performance. Bear in mind Utd played at the weekend and Real are not on the same level as Inter and you couldn't see a Jose team getting thrashed.

    We should've won in the first leg, we maybe shouldn't have won in the second, but over the two legs the finest team in England came through against the best Italy could offer. Let's see who we get in the draw, should be tasty with Bayern and Barca in there, along with the other English clubs

  • Comment number 6.

    There you go...

    The English press praise Man Utd while Liverpool's demolition of Real Madrid pales in comparison. Suddenly Italian opponents are much more formaidable than Spaniards. Brilliant Utd. Flawed Liverpool.

    Let's see if the story changes inexplicably when Utd are drawn against those Spanish giants of world football, Villareal........

  • Comment number 7.

    Having seen Barcelona take a very good Lyon side apart in the space of fifteen minutes, I would suggest that Man United will have to do a whole lot better if they actually want to win this trophy.

    Actually Lyon rallied and made it closer than it should have been - which is what gives Man U and the rest a glimmer of hope; Barca will always concede goals. But as they have the handy knack of scoring more than they concede...

    Great week for the Premiership sides - as usual, I'm tempted to say. But whichever team comes up against Barcelona will have to hope and pray that the Catalan side are having an off-night.

  • Comment number 8.

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

  • Comment number 9.

    #6

    I haven't noticed any mention of "brilliant United" anywhere - where did you read that?

    I have however seen references to "flawed Liverpool" recently, but they were all about Liverpool's bid for the Premiership (which is flawed), not their game against Real (which wans't).

  • Comment number 10.

    Phil, a quote from your match review - "...the Serbian, hardly a secret weapon on these occasions, rise almost unchallenged to head Michael Carrick's corner past Julio Cesar." Actually, it was a Ryan Giggs corner, not Carrick. This mistake was also made in the live text last night by Stevo. How come you both got it so wrong?

  • Comment number 11.

    Not usre what planet the poster above in blue is on. I think the press coverage has been about right for both teams. Liverpool played well and were rightly praised, United played average and were only praised for getting the job done (deservedly over the 2 legs). What's your point?

  • Comment number 12.

    Poster #6 , you must have a crystal ball.......?
    How are you doing at the Cheltenham festival.
    As a United supporter, I like most honest ones with more than the length of the Premiership as a supporter,( me 52 years now ) agree with SAF, not a great display, but job done and they will be better in the QF stage no matter who is the opposition. If he picks Scolesey next time out, he won't give the ball away again as he did last night imo.
    Well done all the Premier clubs, it's going to be an interesting draw with probably 3/4 out of 8 in with a real chance to win it all.
    Very much a test of the Manager's ability as the players. I think over 2 legs, SAF and the OT boys will progress to the last 4.

  • Comment number 13.

    whilst man utd might win them all i think arsenal and chelsea are more than capable of beating them in the fa cup.as for europe i think the 3 other english teams plus barcelona and bayern munich could beat them

  • Comment number 14.

    It's easy to be magnanamous in defeat for Murhino! United have got away with it too often this season. I still insist this United team is a team in Transition. Whatever happens this season it's next year they will truly flourish. Mind you I said that last season too.
    No 5 trophies this year! maybe 3 possibly 4.

  • Comment number 15.

    Draw for the quarters:
    Barca vs Porto winner plays the winner of:
    Villareal vs Bayern

    United vs Liverpool winner playing the winner of:
    Arsenal vs Chelsea.

    Platini is happy that not another all english final.

  • Comment number 16.

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

  • Comment number 17.

    Post 6 - just bitter really there mate!

  • Comment number 18.

    # 4... old and has been players in Serie A??? granted I dont like the league as its always been played at too slow a pace for my liking but I think you have your facts wrong here... Especially as quite a few of the Italian teams have encountered financial troubles and are having to turn to young talent. The only reason players want to flock to the EPL is because of the massively inflated wages paid to average players..

    Not a Man Utd fan but if I was I would take winning in a not 'exactly picture perfect' style any day if it meant beating the Champions of Italy 2 zip over 2 legs..

    The only thing that bothered me last night was Man Utd's reluctance to shoot from 20 yards or so.. Scholes, Carrick, Giggs etc.. had countless chances to shoot and tried to play TV passes through 4 players.. Rooney was the only one willing to have a pop..

  • Comment number 19.

    #9

    Inter 0-0 Man Utd "Utd came away having completed a professional and impressive performance"

    Real Madrid 0-1 Liverpool "Liverpool stifled the poor oppositon and rode their luck"

    Man Utd 2-0 Inter Milan "In the manner of champions, they overcame their own shortcomings to win in style"

    Liverpool 4-0 Real Madrid "Real, Casillas apart, were an embarrassing shambles of a team."

  • Comment number 20.

    I'm torn, I want the English teams to be kept apart as then thats another all English final opportunity that will get right up the nose of Platini.
    However, it's a bit of an anti-climiax (despite all the sky hyperbole) to be playing a premiership rival in the biggest of finals.
    I personally hope United get Barca, just so that if we get to the final no-one can claim we've had a lucky run.

  • Comment number 21.

    19.

    well done, that accurately sums up both ties.

    Madrid were woeful, an embarassment to the name of the great club. Liverpool played ok in the first leg and were excellent on Tues. Even if they were helped out by a really dodgy penalty.

    Inter were not great, in fact in the first half of the first leg they were really poor but United were also quality in that game and very unlucky not to have the tie put to bed. Last night Inter were much better and would have comfortably beaten the madrid team you played on Tues yet we still beat them 2-0.

    What is your point. You're reacting like a spoilt child who is seeing someone else get some attention and is jumping around shouting look at me! Be careful you dont end up getting a spanking on Sat

  • Comment number 22.

    Number 6 and 19

    see the below excerpt from Phil's blog.......

    "Ironically, it was delivered after a performance that could hardly be ranked among United's vintage European efforts. It did not have the flow and fluidity of Liverpool's thrashing of Real Madrid, but on nights like this good sides get the job done and United did."

    seems to me the correct praise has been given to Liverpool, and United are being seen as getting the win needed, but not playing well. You were commenting on the blog all day yesterday about how Liverpool's performance was not being given the credit it deserved, and are now doing the same again today with a report not even about Liverpool.......

    do you want some salt and vinegar for that chip on your shoulder?

  • Comment number 23.

    We were terrible last night. Gave the ball away too easily in midfield, and all this arrogant flicks and tricks really did my head in. If we give the ball away that cheaply on Saturday lunchtime, we will be punished by (arguably the most difficult team to beat in the European Competition at the minute).......Liverpool.
    It's pretty obvious to me that if Mourinho wanted to go back to Chelsea, he would've gone by now. After seeing Real Madrid play on Tuesday night, I dont see Juande Ramos staying for next season (he will probably return to Sevilla- who have dipped dramatically since he left), and then Mourinho might wind up at the Real Madrid hot seat. Will he replace Sir Alex, I think he will be in the running........but, I just see the United board being split in decision between Jose and Martin O'neil.

  • Comment number 24.

    Anyone with sense knows that a team dominant enough to win every single trophy is sounding the death knell for the game

    The sooner we all wake up and restructure the game so that all the money and players do not go to a handful of clubs the better.

    We can start with an embargo on any Man Utd buying for the next 20 years. That will serve as punishment for their conduct in buying Ferdinand, Rooney, Tevez, Berbatov and Carrick.

  • Comment number 25.

    No offence Phil, self-proclaimed-Jose-Mourinho-admirer, i still think he is overrated...he has come into established, well financed (sometimes with limitless funds) and has done 'WELL' no more...I don't understand how people go crazy over him, particularly with his arrogance...I for one would not want him at the helm at Old Trafford! He needs to show his real worth to the world or, seriously, shut it! Show us what he can do at a small, moneyless and stuggling side like notts' Forest (sorry Forest fans...just using your club as an example :( ) before saying he is the Special One...and how special can one be if you can't win the CL with multibilion Chelski or umpteentimesleague winners Inter!

  • Comment number 26.

    Not a great performance from United but they got the job done. The early goal meant they tried to sit on the lead and Scholes and Carrick did not dominate the midfield. In these kind of games, Park, Tevez and Fletcher are a must start as they add the high energy and tempo to the game, which United are best at.
    The defence and in particular Vidic were superb and at £7 million, is looking an absolute bargain.
    There is still better things to come from this United team and they can re-write all the history books if they manage to win 5 trophies and for Sir Alex to elevate his status to the 7th heaven of football.
    When Sir Alex retires I would love it if Mourinho became the next United manager, he has the charisma, the personality and the winning mentality to succeed at a club that demands success upon success. The worlds biggest club needs the worlds biggest Manager.

  • Comment number 27.

    #19

    Which of those comments weren't true, exactly?

    Liverpool were average in the first leg against a poor Real Madrid side. In the second leg Real were terrible, but Liverpool upped their game and played fantastically.

    United completely outclassed Inter in the first leg, but couldn't get the away goal. Despite their poor performance last night, they beat Inter comfortably and never looked in real danger of being eliminated.

    Any bias in the media is completely in the minds of Liverpool fans. If anything Liverpool get more credit than they deserve in Europe. In the Premiership they are rightly criticised for their inconsistency and inability to kill off games at home. The rest, I'm afraid, is just bitterness.

  • Comment number 28.

    My analysis of the second legs this week would read like this:

    Liverpool - Outstanding.

    Chelsea - Got the job done.

    Man United - Showed that little extra class in attack and defence to edge it.

    Arsenal - Winning on penalties is hardly winning is it. Unconvincing.


    (But best performance of the mid-week games has to be Rovers at Fulham. Boy we needed that)

  • Comment number 29.

    Im a United fan and have to admit last night wasnt one of our better performances, Giggs, Carrick and Scholes in particular all had defective radars in the first 45.
    The early goal in a funny way worked against us as it took the sting out the game and you could almost sense that the players were unsure of how to approach the rest of the game.
    As for the poster in blue, Inter are a better team than Madrid but not by much. This is because they have a better coach. I do disagree with the press headline though as i dont believe at any stage Liverpool rode their luck, Madrid were just very, very poor and it makes the decision not to register Huntelaar for the competition extremely baffling.

    Who would i fancy in the next round? Anyone actually. Barca are good but not that good. If you take the game to them, as Atletico did recently, then they struggle. The weak point is their defense and they dont like the physical stuff. I have a gut feeling we will draw them and Liverpool will draw Porto with Arsenal and Chelsea going head to head.

    Collie21...can you explain how United have got away with it this season? I always find comments like that puzzling. Got away with what exactly?

  • Comment number 30.

    I was thinking that O'shea might concede a penalty. He was having one miserable night!. Thank god.. It did not happen.

  • Comment number 31.

    To K?ll?ngh?lm?_Cl?? post 6. I state clearly about United's victory: "It did not have the flow and fluidity of Liverpool's thrashing of Real Madrid..."

    Not sure that qualifies as making it appear that Liverpool's performance "pales in comparison".

  • Comment number 32.

    At post 18 Sugar Dunkerton....totally agree about Scholes and co not shooting from range. I was shouting at them, especially Scholes, to have a go, as he was in some fairly good positions.

    Oh, but it wasnt just Rooney having a go from range.....Anderson had a couple.....but he's about as effective in front of goal as Gary Neville

  • Comment number 33.

    #6 etc

    The majority of us (UTD) yesterday praised LFC's performance against Real, with the very odd exception. Why the biased rhetoric here?

    We did not play well in the first half and we rode our luck, again I don't see anyone denying this. Our passing was sloppy, it is not often you see Scholes play so poorly, it was not us at our normal level by a long way.

    After the 2nd goal we began to take control and apart from the Adriano effort did not look troubled and might have scored again.

    JM is no fool and is correct when he says we have a chance to get the 5! We are a long way from that and a lot can happen, who knows.

    Anyhow the issue now is the draw, I hope we avoid an EPL side (the others too), it would make a very interesting 1/4 final round.

  • Comment number 34.

    Once again another blog by Phil and no matter the subject a chip on the shoulder liverpool fan has to comment. BORING.

  • Comment number 35.

    Hi Phil, why are you so greedy?

    why don't give the opportunity to your colleagues to blog about such important events, yesterday you wrote about Liverpool so give a chance to another bloger to write about Manchester, and let us see who writes better blogs on important nights!

  • Comment number 36.

    Agreed with this today Phil although no analysis of any of the Inter players, good or bad - just Mourinho.


    http://www.worldfootballcolumns.com



  • Comment number 37.

    19.

    Superb post and sums it all up doesn't it?

    Man United draw at Inter and it's amazing. Liverpool win at Real (something United have never done I should add) and its lucky.

    Man United labour to a win over Inter at home and its professional. Liverpool batter Real at home and it's because Real are "not as good as they used to be".

    Poor biased journalism.

  • Comment number 38.

    Inter are heaps better than Real; Atletico hammered Real just days before Liverpool and with two dodgy decisions like Liverpool had, would have won 3-1 at the Bernabeu.

    Inter hardly even tried dirty tricks; an utterly, utterly redundant team.

  • Comment number 39.

    31. At 09:34am on 12 Mar 2009, Phil McNulty - BBC Sport wrote:
    To K?ll?ngh?lm?_Cl?? post 6. I state clearly about United's victory: "It did not have the flow and fluidity of Liverpool's thrashing of Real Madrid..."

    Not sure that qualifies as making it appear that Liverpool's performance "pales in comparison".
    -------------------------------------------------------------------
    Liverpool's performance pales in comparison with Bayern Munich's.

    Now give me two minutes to write something sensible,

    All English teams can consider it job done, though Arsenal fairly fortunately, the slate is wiped clean, would be nice for the English teams to avoid each other, though that would mean Barca would draw one of them.

    Unfortunately in this game you can only beat the teams in front of you, so it is not Liverpool's fault Real Madrid were poor. Just as it is not United's fault the rest of the EPL is poor. HAHAHA (See what i did there) English football is riding high and when you look back in years to come you'll appreciate how good everyone involved in the EPL's success really is.

  • Comment number 40.

    quick question ... howcome it isnt being considered a sixtuplet(or what the equivelent for six trophies in one season) as the reds can win the FA cup, premier league, champions league still, with the community shield, world club championship and the carling cup in the bag, i counted six there ...

  • Comment number 41.

    Liverpool fans are as bitter and pathetic as their teams

  • Comment number 42.

    Well done Phil on being the first person in the media to describe Man United's push for a quintuple or quadruple as 'historic' rather than 'unprecedented'. It may be unprecedented for an English club, but not for the Dutch - Ajax picked up the quadruple of the European Cup, Dutch Championship and the KNVB Cup and Intercontinental Cup in 1972 and then added the first ever UEFA Super Cup in January 1973 (yes, technically it was in 1973, but it was the 1972 cup - and they won the 1973 one too after completing the European Cup and Dutch Championship double). (Ajax winning 8 trophies in two years 4 + 4 or 5 + 3 hardly makes a quadruple or quintuple by United 'unprecendented' - so my laboured point is that I'm rather pleased that you haven't gone for the cliche that your colleagues in the media seem unable to avoid!! (and yes, I accept that I am being pedantic, but what the hell)

  • Comment number 43.

    I don't rate Barca's attack untill it comes against a good defense - Real Madrid are supposed to have the best defense in La Liga and they leaked 4 against an off form Liverpool side.

    I think if Barca came against an EPL side they would not be allowed to play like they do now. If Lyon can put 2 goals away 3 goals over the 2 legs then any English team would demolish them.

  • Comment number 44.

    you're KILLING the debate by your stupid moderation policy, from now on i'll never comment on your articles!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 45.

    Great article, I would love Mourinho to become our next manager after Fergie retires.

  • Comment number 46.

    loved the united fans singing "your not special any more" to jose!
    classic!

  • Comment number 47.

    Utd made hard work of knocking an average Inter team out. They are punching above their weight solely because Mourinho is in charge. I doubt that they would even manage top 6 if they were playing in the EPL and UTD should have scored more. English dominance in Europe is becoming normal and the Italian FA need to take note. Blatter and Platini must be bringing their croissants back up this morning. Pace, power, heart good defending and great finishing the ingredients that have put Man Utd, Liverpool and Bayern through to the next round and I expect all three of these teams to be in the semi-finals. Klinsmann learnt his lessons well when he was at Spurs and will be very interesting to see what he can do against one of the EPL teams.

  • Comment number 48.

    Fo a brief moment I thought Mourinho lost the plot and it echoed throughout the match. Lets face it, Mourinho may not excel in a club where he is not backed financially. There are doubts over his eye for talents going by the acquisitions he has made for some of the clubs he has managed for a past few years. Examples are Mateja Kezman, Khalid Bhoularouz, Tal ben Haim, Quaresma, Muntari, Mancini etc. He destroyed chelsea by letting Arjen Robben and SWP - widemen go, Jon Mikel Obi has been converted to a defender rather than an attacking midfielder. We are now left with a question of opinion if Mourinho can actually develop a talent. Even then he bought Drogba and Essien at exhorbitant prices, suppose he did not have finacial muscles of his owners, what happens?

    If we have to be specific, I think Mourinho's strongest weapon is his motivational carriage he breathes into his players, but then when you get to intimidating atmospheres like Old trafford and Anfield, only players with right clout, experience and confidence can make it through, all the philosophy would have been left back at the changing room immediately you step on the field, and perhaps until halftime,supposing the damage has not been done.

    I dont see Mourinho lasting at Inter, neither will he be accepted at United.

  • Comment number 49.

    Re 6: K?ll?ngh?lm?_Cl?

    "There you go... The English press praise Man Utd while Liverpool's demolition of Real Madrid pales in comparison. Brilliant Utd. Flawed Liverpool."

    You are joking, right? Did you miss:

    "United stumbled over their lines after that ideal start. They were uncharacteristically wasteful in possession, with Paul Scholes an unlikely culprit, and Ferguson was brutally honest in his assessment that his side were fortunate still to be ahead at the interval."

    or "they overcame their own shortcomings"

    or "Mourinho saw through United's failings on the night "

    or "Ironically, it was delivered after a performance that could hardly be ranked among United's vintage European efforts."

    or perhaps most of all:

    "It did not have the flow and fluidity of Liverpool's thrashing of Real Madrid"


    Get that chip off your shoulder. Liverpool we're heaped with praise after the Real Madrid match.

  • Comment number 50.

    To- dhimmi,
    WHAT ON EARTH Was wrong with our conduct in securing the services of Wayne Rooney, Michael Carrick and Rio Ferdinand of all people????!!!!!
    These players clearly stated they wanted to play for us, and we paid big bucks for them........whats your point??!!!!!!

  • Comment number 51.

    I'd dread the thought of Mourinho succeeding Ferguson at OT. He's nowhere near as special as he thinks he is.

    The most significant contributor to his rise to stardom was the linesman who incorrectly flagged Scholes' second goal offside to save Porto from being knocked out of the European Cup in 2004.

  • Comment number 52.

    All those scouse, sore that United received any praise at all.

    Liverpool had the easiest draw, and had the best result. What a shock! Let me explain.

    Inter are 7 points clear in their league, have conceded few goals, and have scored more than second placed Juve who scored two against Chelsea, yet couldn't score against us.

    Real, 6 points back in second and a LONG way back in terms of goal difference on Barca, have a poor defence (as bad as any in the top 7 of the spanish league).

    Give credit where its due.

    I'm praying for Liverpool to get Barca or Bayern in the next round, to put them in their place. Worst case happens and they scrap through with the obligatory Anfield penalty, one of the actual big threats are eliminated!

  • Comment number 53.

    26.
    "When Sir Alex retires I would love it if Mourinho became the next United manager, he has the charisma, the personality and the winning mentality to succeed at a club that demands success upon success. The worlds biggest club needs the worlds biggest Manager."

    I would to, but then i stop to think about it, and realise it is all media hype, pedalled by the likes of this McNulty chap...
    The guy has been very lucky, from how he got into football (bumped into Bobby Robson at an Airport), through to the season he won the CL with Porto, (Monaco in the final?? - weak year) right through to when he took over at Chelsea, (Bottomless pit of money).

    Think about then the reasons why United are successful, they are always buying players with potential (the odd player at their peak, but very rarely) where Mourinho just bought his Porto squad and splashed more cash elsewhere, alongside the fact that United are always bringing through youth, not just English but from elsewhere (Who did Mourinho blood? - Nobody). The style of football he plays is not to lose and hope a big name player does something i.e. Drogba or Ibra, United play with numerous attacking players and flair.

    If you consider the above and the United way, you'd plump for O'Neill every time for the future of United.

  • Comment number 54.

    These winning streaks for countries happen in cycles. At the moment it's England's turn, a few years ago it was Spanish teams, before that Italian teams. I think people are reading too much into how strong the Premier League is.

    Also looking at the bigger picture - Italy are World Champions and have an Italian manager, Spain are European Champions and have a Spanish manager. England failed to qualify for the last major tournament and have a foreign manager.

    Your daft if you think the success of the EPL means great things for English football.

  • Comment number 55.

    @ 24.

    "That will serve as punishment for their conduct in buying Ferdinand, Rooney, Tevez, Berbatov and Carrick."

    Oh dear dhimmi... Obviously not a United fan then...lol

    I'm sure you would love to have these players at your club!

  • Comment number 56.

    RE #24 You reel them in dimmi that has WUM all over it... (BTW last time I checked Utd hadn't "bought" Tevez although I hope they do.

    Anyway.. Liverpool were great on Tuesday and deserved the plaudits but only the most blinkered red wouldn't admit Real were a poor poor team. Utd on the other hand got the job done and weren't that impressive but the only thing that matters at this stage is the end result.

    I don't think Utd would want Liverpool in the next stage, but thats nothing new, I am sure all the prem teams are hoping for Porto or Villareal in the next stage.

    We will have to see what Liverpool team shows up on Saturday but at the moment it will purely be for pride, I can't see a Liverpool victory making too much difference on the title race (tbh I can't see a Liverpool victory full stop)

  • Comment number 57.

    I have to admit that I didn't want to see four English teams in the quarter finals, but it has happened. I definitely don't want to see four English clubs in the semi's. That would be, as number 24 says, the death nail in European football.

    I think Platini is correct to worry about the English dominance. The amount of money that the top four make from Sky and now Setanta is unmatched in other countries. With the amount of TV money that the big four can make they clearly have an advantage over the rest of Europe.

    I fully support any idea of capping wages and transfers. I would also welcome the idea that teams who are in serious debt should have their spending curtailed.

    Out of the English teams in the CL this year Arsenal have spent the least on transfers over the last number of years and that shows both in the CL and even in the league. United, Chelsea and Liverpool seem intent on buying the CL, and league for that matter.

    I can only hope that all four English teams get drawn against each other for the QFs, and then the remaining two get drawn against each other in the SFs to ensure that there isn't another all English final. Better still lets hope the remaining four other European clubs can knock out the English teams if drawn against them.

  • Comment number 58.

    @26: Agree totally. I thought Fergie picked the wrong 11 last night. Although Giggs and Scholes are still capable of top performances I think only 1 should start in any game. Liverpool destroyed Real with power and pace. That's where Tevez, Park and Fletcher make the difference over Scholes, Giggs and Berbatov (who was very poor).

    Utd played the game at a pace that suited Inter and it could have been costly.

    As for winning all 5. Cup competitions are too unpredictable and need luck. It's possible but I wouldn't put my house on it.

  • Comment number 59.

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

  • Comment number 60.

    Repost of #16, edited and resubmitted at the request of the Moderators

    Dream scenario...

    .. Arsenal finish 5th in the EPL, behind Villa.
    MON gives a bunch of interviews about how he's broken the monopoly of "the top 4"

    Arsenal fluke their way to the final in Rome and against all the odds, beat Bayern Munich, who put Man U and Chelsea out in the previous rounds by six or seven goal margins, with a single hotly disputed penalty or stupendously bizarre own goal.

    MON has to give a live interview immeadiately afterwards.

    The only way that could be improved is if Platini is stood next to him, trying to explain why he's headed to the UEFA cup next season.

  • Comment number 61.

    31. At 09:34am on 12 Mar 2009, Phil McNulty - BBC Sport wrote:
    To K?ll?ngh?lm?_Cl?? post 6. I state clearly about United's victory: "It did not have the flow and fluidity of Liverpool's thrashing of Real Madrid..."

    Not sure that qualifies as making it appear that Liverpool's performance "pales in comparison".
    ________________________________________________________________________

    I suggest that you read my post again. The sentence reads: "The English press praise Man Utd while Liverpool's demolition of Real Madrid pales in comparison."

    "The English press" is the term used here and I dont think you are quite that just yet . As I have said to you before, there is a definite slant towards favourable comments about Man Utd not just in the media in general but also on the BBC. Its no surprise that a number of Utd posters on this thread choose to deny this and use terms like "bitter' and "chip on my shoulder" when I state my opinion. I am neither bitter nor under the influence of chips. But I do get fed up reading gushing tributes when they arent warranted. Or, as yesterday, damning Benitez with faint praise.

  • Comment number 62.

    Can Mourinho succeed without silly money? One word for you there: Porto.

    Did he squander money at CSKA Kensington? Yes. He hardly couldn't under Abramovich!

    Can United win five trophies? Yes, but that doesn't mean they will. I can't see them losing the league, so that leaves two cups, five knockout ties (two of them over two legs) to win them both. Five opportunities to slip up...

  • Comment number 63.

    The only people "fascinated" by the Mourinho "phenomenon" and who call him the "special one" still, are loved-up journo's!Its quite sick really because real fans of football have little interst inhi sposturing ,posing and self indulgent ways.The media love him because he gives them a quote for their daily copy and so keeps them in employment,but as to his ability as a manager he is only as good or bad as his players like any other manager.Please stop the sycophancy and get on with the football before we all throw up...preferably all over you while squeezed into a Mourinho press conference,that would be a story!!!

  • Comment number 64.

    I can't wait for the final whistle at the weekend and to hear any of these excuses:
    1. Liverpool had an extra days rest than us.
    2. Ronaldo had an off day he can't be great every match
    3. Inter are miles better than Real Madrid (who are we kidding here, how many Real players are in the top ranked international team in the World??) so it took a lot more for us to get past them than it did Liverpool's game.
    4. Liverpool are too boring and just played negative football
    5. There was no contact for that penalty that Gerrard got the first time he dived instead of going for a Hollywood pass.
    And the crowning glory:
    6. It was the referees fault they always pick on Wayne Rooney when they are in charge of a game at Old Trafford.

    What is wrong with all you utd fans? You are through as you won the game. I know you are jealous of our results beating Real Madrid in 'both' games but at the end of the day the result is what matters and not the scoreline. I think we would have beaten you lot in the CL last year but we never got a chance to play you. Hopefully this year will be different.

  • Comment number 65.

    Man Utd are going for a historic SIX trophies not 5 this season - everyone has forgotten that they have already won the Community Shield at the very start of the season.

  • Comment number 66.

    @ 54

    I'm sure others will pick this up before me...

    England failed to qualify with an English manager. How soon you forget the wally with the brolly.

  • Comment number 67.

    @57: "The amount of money that the top four make from Sky and now Setanta is unmatched in other countries. "

    Funny that, if what you say is true then why aren't the Top 4 in Engalnd ranked the Top 4 in revenue earnings (not even close).

    Rubbish!

  • Comment number 68.

    Post 19:

    Real 0-1 Liverpool : "Liverpool put themselves in a strong position to overcome Real Madrid in the Champions League by beating the Spaniards with a professional display."

    Man Utd 2-0 Inter: "United never touched the heights," "United will need to produce better," "the holders failed to build on Vidic's goal and barely survived a harrowing spell of pressure from Inter," "United were careless in possession,"

    Liverpool 4-0 Real Madrid: "Fernando Torres delivered a scintillating solo performance," "The brutal truth for Real was that they were outclassed, with Liverpool underlining their vast superiority," "Only a show of outstanding one-man defiance from Real keeper Iker Casillas stopped Liverpool from running riot," "they were not given a chance as they were subjected to a siege in the opening exchanges." "Liverpool were playing in the positive and fluent manner," "virtually a perfect opening period," "Liverpool's rearguard remained resolute on a night that offered little other than frustration for the legendary Raul and his colleagues." "Liverpool departed to rapturous applause at the final whistle - fully deserved after a performance that signalled a warning that they will once again be a serious force in the latter stages of the Champions League."

    And that was only from match reports from this site, I'm sure if I go to other reports, as you had to, I could find even more quotes that completely contradict your claim that "The English press praise Man Utd while Liverpool's demolition of Real Madrid pales in comparison."

    If it makes you feel better to believe otherwise, that's up to you, but I'm afraid such bitterness could be bad for your health.

  • Comment number 69.

    To UNITEDMC - have to say that Mourinho won the Champions League at Porto in 2004 without huge financial backing. A little luck along the way maybe, but which winner hasn't needed that?

    Watching Mourinho at close quarters last night after the match, I got the sense that he is a little lost at Inter. I did not get the same feeling that this was "his" club - unlike when he was at Chelsea.

    If he ever got the chance to manage United, I am sure he could accept the club itself was bigger than him. Never under-estimate his intelligence and sense of history. He will know very well what Manchester United means in the grand scheme of world football.

    Sir Alex Ferguson was clearly very dissatisfied with aspects of United's performance - and rightly so.

    They got carried away with the early goal and lost focus. As Ferguson said, possession is king in the Champions League and they squandered it too easily.

    The words "suicide...frivolous...reckless" tripped off his tongue. They must not repeat those mistakes at the next stage.

    The bottom line, however, is that they got through and ultimately the job was done. It was not a wholly satisfying performance though, and Ferguson was quick to acknowledge it.

    If I could hand pick the draw, I would love one of the English clubs to come up against the latest incarnation of Barcelona, seemingly new and improved this season under Pep Guardiola.

    It would be particularly intriguing if the Catalans drew Manchester United or Liverpool. This would be a real battle of wits and style.

  • Comment number 70.

    Mourinho has just echoed the comments made by Hiddink last week that at the moment Man U have the perfect balance of age groups within their overall squad, and that as a result they have the platform for continued and sustained success.

    Unfortunatley they are both right!

  • Comment number 71.

    @64: Getting a bit carried away, aren't we? You'll be nowhere to be found after the final whistle on Saturday.

    No excuses necessary!

  • Comment number 72.

    61:

    What you descibe as faint praise to Benitez by the media in general yesterday, and particularly the BBC, is fully justified.

    Yes Liverpool played good football against Real Madrid on Tuesday, arguably the best they have all season, but their form in the Premier League has been no where near the expectations set by early dominance. This was a point that was made not only by the press yeasterday, but by many of your own fans.

    You have to be blinkered (or indeed bitter haha!!) to suggest that some of this criticism is not justified. Since January a 10 point lead has been squandered to leave you seven points behind Man Utd (who also have a game in hand). You are now third in the table and have to face the league leaders on Saturday.

  • Comment number 73.

    I agree Phil......

    I can't see Mourinho at Inter next season, but I can't see SAF retiring this season either.

    Therefore the Real Madrid post looks odds on for Jose, unless Rafa takes it, which could then result in the "Special One" going to Anfield.

    I know you keep saying how much you would like to see Mourinho back managing in the EPL, but I bet you did not mean with Liverpool.

  • Comment number 74.

    57. At 10:39am on 12 Mar 2009, Frelnik wrote:
    I have to admit that I didn't want to see four English teams in the quarter finals, but it has happened. I definitely don't want to see four English clubs in the semi's. That would be, as number 24 says, the death nail in European football.

    I think Platini is correct to worry about the English dominance. The amount of money that the top four make from Sky and now Setanta is unmatched in other countries. With the amount of TV money that the big four can make they clearly have an advantage over the rest of Europe.

    ------------------------------------

    again, as someone else has already commented (i think), im pretty sure the top teams in Italy (not sure about Spain) get more tv money than those in England as the teams can individually negotiate their own contracts, meaning the big teams get a lot of money. I think this is changing again for next season, and cant lay my hands on the facts at the moment, but im pretty sure the big European clubs are not the poor relations in this.

    also as someone else has stated, a few years ago the Spanish teams were dominating the competition, and before that the Italians (i believe there were all-Italian and all-Spanish team finals before MU-Chelsea last year) so people should not be blaming our teams for ruining the competition. Though for some reason there was no word on the matter from UEFA and FIFA then i think...........strange that!!

    and im sure i read an article after the first legs stating that the English teams had about as many English playing for them as the other teams had their own nationals - just look at how many South Americans and Africans were playing for Inter last night. So it is not just our clubs who dont play their own nationals (perhaps Arsenal excepted).

  • Comment number 75.

    Re 64. Gerrardswhiskers:

    You've obviously spent quite a lot of time pre-emptively thinking up excuses that opposition fans might make (it's good you acknowledge Gerrard is a diver though) but what was the point?

    From what i can see, Rafa Benitez is the King of Excuses. Bad decisions (a bit rich!), lack of transfer funds compared to his rivals (not true), teams like Everton being 'too defensive' (as if Benitez can talk) etc.

    And it's amazing how, after the Madrid game, all of a sudden Liverpool are 'the team to beat', who no-one wants to meet in the next round. Amusingly you take it as a given that you'll go to OT at the weekend and win. I think you're getting a bit carried away. (Last 8 prem games: W3 D4 L1)

  • Comment number 76.

    #67 and #74

    I am more than sure that I heard that the Sky and Setanta TV package is the most expensive in football.

    The Prem is sold to more countries than any other European league.

    I accept that Real and Braca are above the English clubs for revenue. But when spend the silly amounts of money on wages and transfers that the likes of United, Chelsea and Liverpool do you will have less money.

    The top class of football want to play in the Prem because they can get much better wages here than they can in Spain or Italy. Things have changes.

    No supporter of the top four teams can say that the Sky, and now Setanta money, has not helped strengthen their club. It's not the be all and end all of income but it does make a contribution that clubs want to maintain and make use of.

  • Comment number 77.

    64. At 11:01am on 12 Mar 2009, Gerrardswhiskers wrote:
    I can't wait for the final whistle at the weekend and to hear any of these excuses:
    1. Liverpool had an extra days rest than us.
    2. Ronaldo had an off day he can't be great every match
    3. Inter are miles better than Real Madrid (who are we kidding here, how many Real players are in the top ranked international team in the World??) so it took a lot more for us to get past them than it did Liverpool's game.
    4. Liverpool are too boring and just played negative football
    5. There was no contact for that penalty that Gerrard got the first time he dived instead of going for a Hollywood pass.
    And the crowning glory:
    6. It was the referees fault they always pick on Wayne Rooney when they are in charge of a game at Old Trafford.

    What is wrong with all you utd fans? You are through as you won the game. I know you are jealous of our results beating Real Madrid in 'both' games but at the end of the day the result is what matters and not the scoreline. I think we would have beaten you lot in the CL last year but we never got a chance to play you. Hopefully this year will be different.

    ---------------------------------------------------

    Real Madrid have two players in the "top-ranked international team" dont they? Casillas and Ramos i could think of off-hand (team not squad). i think Liverpool probably have as many, if not more Spaniards in their squad as Madrid - says a lot about both teams i suppose.

    i think as Inter are champions of their league as well they are probably around a similar level.

    On a separate note - anyone know why Ibrahimovic was not playing last night? didnt see anything from the "worlds best player" so assumed he must have been injured or something and not played?!

  • Comment number 78.

    I think Platini is correct to worry about the English dominance. The amount of money that the top four make from Sky and now Setanta is unmatched in other countries. With the amount of TV money that the big four can make they clearly have an advantage over the rest of Europe.

    --------------------------------------------------

    Absolute rubbish, check the figures - Top Italians sides make more revenue through TV deals than the top EPL sides so don't spout made up facts to make a point frelnik

  • Comment number 79.

    United weren't good. The game was so lethargic that after scoring the first goal, we didn't know what to do. The errors crept in as there was no urgency in the walking-pace game.

    The way Giggs slalomed his way to hold the ball was a sight to behold.
    Rooney was exceptional. As was Vidic. Ronny was good as well.

    So, on to the Scouse tie. We should win that, as Chelsea will be favourites to win theirs.

    Equation: Double is in the bag. Treble - comfortably ahead with 7 (or 10) points. Quadruple is at a semi-final stage that we should win. Quintuple is at a quarter final yet - the hardest.

    All in all - we can do a quad if we play to our potential. Quintuple with a huge dose of luck and destiny added to it.

  • Comment number 80.

    and im sure i read an article after the first legs stating that the English teams had about as many English playing for them as the other teams had their own nationals - just look at how many South Americans and Africans were playing for Inter last night. So it is not just our clubs who dont play their own nationals (perhaps Arsenal excepted).

    ================================================

    That's a great point

    Inter team - Julio Cesar (Brazil), Maicon (Brazil), Cordoba(Columbia), Samuel(Argentina), Santon(Italy), Zanetti(Arg), Cambiasso(Arg), Vieira(France) (Muntari (Ghana)46), Stankovic (Serbia)(Adriano (Bra) 58), Ibrahimovic(Sweden), Balotelli (nationalised italian)(Figo (Portugal)70).

    So only 1 Italian and 1 partial - Italy not like it used to be

  • Comment number 81.

    There seems to be a few bitter sad sad Liverpool fans on these blogs. Top of them all has got to be K?ll?ngh?lm?_Cl??. Salt and vinegar for that chip is def required.

    McFlurry praised Liverpool for an unquestionably awesome performance, and yes also gives praise for a resilient grind of a United result, and yet K?ll?ngh?lm?_Cl?? throws all his toys out of his pram. Wake up sunny, United are in the midst of creating a far superior history than Liverpools, a history that you are concerned will far outclass you decadent one. Liverpool history is something you always hang your hat on year on year. That will change.

    With regards to Uniteds embargo on purchasing players, unfortunately the game has been now been pushed into uncontrollable limits. Great teams being forced to sell their souls to the financial demands of the game! What can be done?

    Also, dhimmi, no. 24, for reference it is not only United that have over inflated the market, speak to Russian billionaires as well as the Liverpool board who have made some shocking purchases over the years. If you look on the internet you will find various sites that show the level of net spends for all premier league teams.

    Take a look at the transfer spends since 1992/93 my friend. In summary,

    Chelsea net spends £352,940,000
    Liverpool net spends £202,445,000
    United net spends £200,585,000
    Manchester City £193,827,000
    Tottenham £182,282,500

    p.s. looking forward to belting out “he’s half a boy, he’s half a ……” on Saturday at OT.

    Draw written all over it.

  • Comment number 82.

    One game at time Phil. It's mostly the media that talk about FIVE. Some players at United started too, but please notice it has stopped and the point is simple. Play each game as it comes. United made some good chances last night and the second goal was great. Julio Ceasar wasn't so bad either.
    You want United to step up to the plate and up their performance, isn't time you reporters did the same. Come on we want better than is currently on show, it's not like you have to play the 90mins!

  • Comment number 83.

    72. At 11:19am on 12 Mar 2009, CantTackleWontTackle wrote:
    61:

    What you descibe as faint praise to Benitez by the media in general yesterday, and particularly the BBC, is fully justified.

    __________________________________________________________________

    As a Man Utd supporter I can see why you would support comments made by Media who favour Man Utd. I'm sure if you lent me your Prawn Sandwich flavoured glasses, they would go well with my bitter and chips! LOL.

  • Comment number 84.

    test

  • Comment number 85.

    My goodness, some posters!!
    Poster 6,19, 61 - Why can't you accept that liverpool were good in the 1st leg and outstanding in the 2nd against a poor Real Madrid team. That is actually what most of the press has reported and is true.

    Are you saying for the press to hide the truth about Real Madrid being poor....they were poor, their side bears no resemblance in quality to the team that had Ronaldo, Figo, Carlos, Raul, Zidane all at their peaks. As Toshack pointed out the other night, they got beat by a 3rd division team in the Spanish Cup. They have had a very good recent run in the league, but this seems to have coincided with raising their game to impress a new manager. They are not good enough at the moment.

    You have copied and pasted a couple of lines written in a blog in isolation and made out that the press are widely saying those things.

    Almost everyone in the press has reported how benitez seems to be brilliant in Europe but falls short domestically. This is true, or at least has been up until now so why shouldn't that be reported.

    Also, the press are widely reporting that United were outstanding in the 1st leg and average last night. They were reporting that United may rue their missed chances in the 1st leg. All of this was fair comment.
    The only way they are overdoing it a bit is on the quintuple comments....but anyone could understand why. I remember when chelski were going for the quadruple according to the press for the previous couple of seasons.

    Poster 57 - frelnik. Whenever I see your posts they are normally aimed against United. I dont doubt you hate United, but now they are just aimed at English football. Well in that case I am pleased how much of a shambles Blackburn were when they were in the CL!!!! (as I believe that is who you follow....if not, apologies to Blackburn fans and I dont actually mean that!!).

    Whilst there are obvious rivalries between certain teams, it must be pleasing that English teams are doing so well every year now.

    frelnik, Italians and Spanish have previously dominated.....I'm sure Platini wouldn't have the worries if they still were. Also, its not the first time English teams have dominated...1977 to 1984, English teams won all but one of the European Cups, so maybe its not just money....maybe, just maybe, like most things in life it goes in cycles and its our turn to dominate again.

  • Comment number 86.

    Fromm BBC news

    "Mourinho 'assault' investigated

    It has been alleged the Inter Milan manager punched a supporter as he left Old Trafford stadium after his team's defeat by Manchester United."

    Now if there is any truth to this then the future position of manager of MUFC would be put in a bit of doubt.

  • Comment number 87.

    Oh dear. I hope it wasn't Fergie that Jose punched! I guess he'll need to ask Real or Liverpool for work now... Numpty.

  • Comment number 88.

    I am sick and tired of Liverpool fans playing the victim every time. You praise them and you still get stick. Just like Gary Neville's celebration, they are sensitive souls.
    BBC- Can't you do anything to eliminate their comments on my club.
    Phil- I respect your opinions and have read many of your blogs. You try and be rational and fair but the Liverpool fans seem to criticise your every comment. You will always be seen as a bitter blue to them when this is far from the truth. The best thing to do is not even mention them but they will probably start cryign about that as well.
    To number 64, we won't need any excuses as recent records at OT against Liverpool show. We have been totally dominant against you and I remember similar bravdo from your fans on this blog last year when you got thumped 3-0. At that time it was Mr Bennetts fault, so you get your excuses ready. We are the team 7 and possibly 10 points ahead of you in the league, got 3 trophies in the bag and going for 3 more. This whilst your team has stumbled since the turn of the year. You have more to fear us than us fearing you.
    Anyway, back to the topic of this blog. To the person who stated O'Neill is the man for the job. Whilst he is a good man manager and good domestically, he has won very little, has no European experience, has not dealt with egos at a big club and has been heavily criticised for his football teams style. Mourinho spent little money at Porto and fits every criteria needed for a United Manager.
    Ajax had a good achievement but the European Cup was weaker then and the dutch league is not as good as the EPL is now. Superb achievement but if United win the lot it will be eclipse Ajax and Celtics achievements. The comment mentioning 8 trophies for Ajax- have I missed something or was that over 2 seasons? If United win the lot then that will be 8 trophies in the calendar year.

  • Comment number 89.

    #78

    As I said in my previous post I said I was more than sure that I heard the money generated from Sky and Setanta was the biggest in European football.

    Maybe that's as a whole package which is spread across 20 teams. Whereas in Italy, as some one else suggested, the top clubs can dictate what they get and can therefore get more money from TV.

    But, from your little statelet, I'd like you to provide a link for me to prove what you say and I'll be more than happy to accept that Italian teams, or any other team, get more money and that I was talking rubbish.

  • Comment number 90.

    RE : Post 6 and 61 K?ll?ngh?lm?_Cl??

    Post 6 begins

    "there you go"

    How can Phil not expect you to be aiming your comments at him, on his blog???

    Anyway I won't repeat my previous post.. but

    Liverpool beat a poor real Madrid 4 - 0. They have not gained anything from this other than a bit of confidence and a place in the quarter finals. Do you just expect people to fawn all over liverpool when they win.

    To quote rafa "Fact" Liverpool have beaten Chelsea Twice and have the opportunity to inflict the same fate to Man Utd on Saturday. even if they do, they will still trail both of their rivals in the league Manchester United by a considerable amount. Liverpools exploits in Europe are rightly praised, but you ask the majority of Liverpool fans looking nervously over their shoulder at Uniteds championship haul of 17 with number 18 right in their sights and ask them if they think Rafa is god like. If so then sign him up for 10 more years beacuse Ferguson will have every chance to knock them right off their perch as he famously once said he'd love to do.

  • Comment number 91.

    Why would four English teams in the semi-finals of the Champions League be the death knell for European football? I do not recall any talk of death knells when two Italian teams contested the final.

    Absolute nonsense. If four English teams get to the semi-finals it is because they deserve to be there - and the draw has been incredibly kind in keeping them all apart in the quarter-finals.

    Sir Alex Ferguson was firm in his commitment that United would improve in the next round while Liverpool will fear no-one after the way they disposed of Real Madrid.

    Chelsea coach Guus Hiddink knows his way around this particular block and Arsenal are no strangers to the later stages of the competition.

    If I was backed into a corner and asked to place the English teams in order of potential winners it would be Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal.

    I personally do not believe Arsenal will win the Champions League, but I would not be surprised if any of the other English teams did.

  • Comment number 92.

    I wholeheartedly agree Phil - in 2003 Milan and Juventus contested the Final, and Inter made the semi-finals. I didn't think this spelt the end of European football, just a fine season for the Italians. Real Madrid won the first five finals in a row - theoretically that level of monotony should have killed off European interest instantly. It actually stimulated it.

    If all 4 English teams make the semis, then fantastic. How lucky will we be to have the best four teams in European (world?) football playing in our country?! Lets enjoy it whilst it lasts

  • Comment number 93.

    Having four english teams in the semi would kill the romance of the European Cup somewhat.

    Too much is being made of the TV deals. Look at the foreign ownership; suddenly England has nothing teams like Chelsea and Man City able to offer more bucks than Madrid and Milan.

  • Comment number 94.

    the main thing to take from the first knock-out round of the Champions League - Champions eh? now that is funny - is that all this talk about the death of Italian football is a bit ridiculous.

    all three Anglo-Italian ties were very closely fought and all three could've gone either way. it's a bit disappointing that all the English teams won through to be honest - but there are some huge games ahead!

    Barcelona and Bayern Munich have cruised through as expected. Real Madrid have failed to get in the quarter-finals yet again, as expected.

    For me the biggest surprise of the whole round - no i'm not talking about Liverpool getting a freebie penalty at Anfield yet again - was Atletico's demise. Their football in the Madrid derby was sensational and they were a big threat, as they proved by being the best team in the group Liverpool emerged from.

    The manager's of England's top 4 are forever saying the fixtures should be doctored to give our teams a better chance in the Champions League. But I actually think the opposite is now true, because having 4 teams from the same country in the last 8 is just ridiculous. In Spain they had a fantastic football match on Saturday night that saw two teams giving everything they had. By Wednesday night both teams had been knocked out of the European Cup.

  • Comment number 95.

    no.91 Phil McNulty

    Well said. Danny Baker was on fivelive Tuesday night going on about how rubbish the European Cup was given English teams dominate.

    Where was Danny when AC Milan won 7 European Cups all in the modern era? We have from our top 4:
    Arsenal 0
    Chelsea 0
    Man Utd 3
    Liverpool 5

    Madrid have 9 for goodness sake. It just happens to be English teams turn to dominate, and we should enjoy it while it lasts. There was a time we couldn't compete with Italian money or Spainish expenditure - have we forgotten the Galatico era already and Madrid's dominance?

    It is still a very difficult competition to win. Only Liverpool out of the English clubs had a comfortable path through. You cannot criticise our mental toughness.

    As for the whole nationality argument in each team, Inter had 1 italian in their side last night, compared with United's 4 Englishman, 1 Welshman and 1 Irishman!!


  • Comment number 96.

    Fergie made the mistake of playing Giggs and Scholes - both tried to play in the same position and therefore upset the midfield balance. Should have played Giggs and Carrick with Park out wide. It took Fergie too long to change things - I think Mourinho (if in Fergie's position) would have acted much sooner.

    As for Liverpool, Middlesborough 2 Liverpool 0 says all you need to know, i.e. even 'Boro are better than Real Madrid! No Premiership for Anfield while Benitez is manager - long may he reign!

  • Comment number 97.

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

  • Comment number 98.

    Phil McNulty #91

    If the moderator's were to pull their fingers out and actually turn posts around much quicker I suppose we could post our feelings on this blog better.

    I don't even want to see the top 4 of a league entered into the CL. It should be the winners and the winners only.

    Of course the new money grabbing UEFA format of allowing up to four teams from one country in was always going to lead to this scenario and as such Platini has to look internally before criticising English teams.

    But you are supposed to be a professional sports journalist. Surely you can recognise that the European Cup has lost some of it's charm since the invention of the CL.

    Sure look at the criticisms about the second round of round robin league format which correctly UEFA got rid to focus more on knockout football. But I feel more should be done to make the CL more attractive.

    I wasn't in favour of two Italian or two Spanish teams meeting in the final when they did and I am equally not in favour of English teams meeting in the final.

    In fact, if UEFA want to maintain at most four teams can enter from one country then get rid of this nonsense with regard to them not being allowed to meet each other until knockout stages. Let them meet each other in the league stages.

  • Comment number 99.

    Just a few things to add about last nights performance.

    I don't think we played that badly, for sure we gave the ball away a little to much, and that gave them the confidence to come at us. They were unlucky not to get a goal, but then we missed 2 gilt edged chances, (O'Shea, and Berba)ourselves. And the fact is the 2 goals we did get were sublime. Vidic's header was right out of the top drawer, losing his marker, to make a good clean connection, with direction and power. And the ball Rooney put in for Rons goal was just pure class. I thought Rooney was the man of the match last night. He really showed what a team player he is, asked to do a job, and did it with distinction.

    Ibrahimavich (spell check lol) on the other hand was poor in front of goal, the one that the bar should have been scored, and he showed no commitment to get at another chance in the second half. For sure I think Adriano was unlucky when he hit the post, but thats football me thinks,and that was the difference between the two sides.

    As for Mourinho being a true world class boss, i think he has proved himself more than once. When he was at Porto, I remember going to see them play Panathinikos in quarter finals of the UEFA cup the year before they won the CL. They lost the 1st leg 3-1 at home and needed to turn that around in the 2nd leg in Athens, probably one of the hardest places to go in europe to get a result. He went over there and stuffed them 3-0, and went on the lift the trophy. He is class, and as a Man U fan we'd do well to have him, when SAF finally calls it a day. But as someone mentioned on here, I think he'll have a fight on his hands with a certain Mr O'Neil.

    Just one more thing, I love the fact the EPL is so dominent in the CL at the moment. Should Man U get knocked out before the final, i'll screamng and shouting for the English team that is there, (surly there will be a least one). Gt behind your country people, we have so much to be proud off.

  • Comment number 100.

    I think what annoys Liverpool fans is that when Man U play poorly but win its the mark of champions but when Liverpool do it they're lucky or simply poor.

    As for last night, Inter didn't make United pay for their mistake or take their chances and you can't expect to win if you don't do either. Liverpool were just clinical against Madrid and frankly tore them apart. I agree with Phil, Arsenal won't win the CL but I think Liverpool or Man Utd might

 

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