“I don’t believe Manchester will come to the San Siro to win, they will play very defensively,” Mourinho said on Monday.
More possession. More shots on target. More shots off target. More corners. Higher passing completion. Fewer fouls.
The difference between football in England and Italy was shown ever so clearly on Tuesday evening, with the Italian consecutive title winning side being taught a lesson on their home turf by the English consecutive title winning side.
Ahead of the match, I would have taken a 2-1 happily, although feared we might not be that lucky. Truth be told, I don’t watch an awful lot of Italian football (it would probably always come second to watching paint dry) so I didn’t know a lot about Mourinho’s side before we played them. I’ve seen enough of Ibrahimovic to know that he’s a threat (and also know that he’s not as good as Ronaldo), but more worryingly was the thought of playing an Italian team. Whilst we could get our tactics right with Carlos Queiroz about last season in Rome, I was apprehensive as to whether Ferguson and Mike fucking Phelan would be able to tactically get this game right. After all, this wasn’t just any defensive-minded Italian team we were playing, but a Jose Mourinho defensive-minded Italian team, which is worse than anything we’ve faced before. We’ve come up against Porto and Chelsea, in leagues where more attacking football is encouraged, and we’ve been kept out and caught on the attack. God only knows what he would do in charge of a bloody Italian team!
Yet with half an hour gone, I could only scratch my head and wonder why we weren’t ahead. We played them off the park, limiting their few attacks to breaks on the counter, which were rather easily snuffed out before they got dangerous. In contrast, our passing ripped their midfield apart and we were creating chance after chance.
Now, whilst I can brag all I like and act like a smug git over our team outplaying TNSSO’s away from home, essentially it doesn’t count for much, as 0-0 is a shit result. Even if we had been second best, 0-0 would be worse than a slim defeat in which we scored.
Ahead of the Barcelona game at Old Trafford last season I was absolutely shitting myself and now we have to prepare for exactly the same scenario. The stakes aren’t as high, with us not being one step away from the final, but the fact Mourinho is their manager and the idea of the press wanking over TNSSO ‘out-witting’ Ferguson evens it out a little. I couldn’t bear it. For 90 minutes, unless we’re two or three nil up, I will be waiting for their last minute goal that knocks us out and Jose’s camp touchline dance, part two. It will be torture.
Difference is, I imagine, Wayne Rooney will be starting in the return leg, as will Vidic, and our lads have the incentive and belief in their ability to retain the Champions League title. That should be all the extra fight we need to knock Inter out because on last night’s showing, they really weren’t anything to write home about.
Made in Manchester is available for just £5. It includes 30 articles from the country's best football writers about graduates from the Manchester United academy. Everyone who buys a copy enters a competition to win the new home shirt. All profit goes to Trafford Macmillan so please support this fantastic cause.