1. Under Sir Alex Ferguson, you always fancied United to pull off a result, even if all the odds were stacked against them. This season things have been different. Following the desperately disappointing performances and results against Liverpool and City over the past few weeks, when the players couldn’t rise above their usual form and put in a gutsy display in a big game, why should fans have expected the match against Bayern Munich to be any different? But it was. It was so different. Who could have possibly predicted that when the 90 minutes was up it would be United fans who were left disappointed with a draw? I wouldn’t go as far as saying it felt like a defeat, but United should have won last night.
2. Danny Welbeck was involved in two of the main talking points of the game. First, there was his disallowed goal. At the time I couldn’t work out what had gone on. When pictures started coming through to my phone at half-time, showing Martinez stooping to get close to Welbeck’s waist-height foot with his head, I was livid. Danny didn’t even make contact. No Premier League referee would have blown for that. And the finish was just so good! Devastated. The sick feeling only increased when he blew a fantastic opportunity to put us 1-0 towards the end of the first half. The decision to try and chip Neuer, when the obvious thing to do would have been to play the ball around the keeper on the floor, was baffling. I love Welbeck. I’m happier for him when he scores than anyone. But that was desperately disappointing last night.
3. To counteract that, captain Vidic did so well to head us 1-0 up early in to the second half. It was a great corner in from Wayne Rooney but Vidic had so much to do to not only get on on the end of it, but get it past Neuer too. He looked absolutely delighted with it as well. He’s past his best these days but he will be missed next season, and how fantastic would it be if putting us in the Champions League semi-finals was a parting gift… OK, I won’t get too carried away.
4. It’s unfair just to single out Vidic though as that cobbled together back four put in a great shift. Alex Buttner had so much to do but, amazingly, did well. Time and again he had two men to contend with by himself and whilst on occasion he looked fairly lost, overall he was impressive. When he went off injured in the second half he was met with warm applause from around the ground. His injury forced Jones to left back and Valencia to right back, yet still they managed to keep Bayern out. We were playing against probably the best side in Europe and they saw so much of the ball, yet with one exception, we stopped them from doing anything too dangerous.
5. Marouane Fellaini. Wow. I’m not a hater. I still have some hope deep down that one day he will prove himself a useful player for United, even if he probably won’t ever be a starting XI player. He was horrendous yesterday though. All the attributes that he used to boast when he was at Everton seem to have vanished. He couldn’t win a header in the air against even the smallest of opponents. When he did win the ball it was usually from jumping up and controlling it (excellently) on his chest. It was bizarre. He couldn’t keep possession. It felt like he lost it every time he got it. He couldn’t win the ball. It felt like every time he put a foot in he either missed the ball or tapped it against the Bayern player, allowing them to retain possession. In the first half, when he got on the end of a cross to head clear, the Stretford End let out an ironic cheer. He wasn’t as bad in the second half… other than being at fault for conceding an away goal. Hopefully Darren Fletcher will get his place in the away leg.
6. Shinji Kagawa will have felt aggrieved that he didn’t start, but Moyes is in a difficult position. Whilst Kagawa has the potential to add so much offensively, he doesn’t offer what Welbeck and Antonio Valencia do defensively. He knows how to play against Bayern though and has the confidence to go out there and do it. Big decision for the manager to make for next week’s game.
7. There has been plenty of talk about the red card just before the end too, with Pep Guardiola claiming Rooney dived. Bastian Schweinsteiger slid in on Rooney, similarly to Valencia in the first half when he was shown a yellow card. Rooney jumped out of the way, dramatically, but if he had stayed rooted to the spot then he could have been hurt. Schweinsteiger went in with studs showing with his foot off the floor. What was Rooney meant to do? Just stand there and wait to be taken out? If he had, does anyone believe that Schweinsteiger wouldn’t still have been booked? Rooney was fully entitled to get out of the way of what was a potentially dangerous challenge. Some people have suggested that Valencia should have been shown a second yellow in the second half too. The linesman was just yards away and had a great view. Both players went in for the ball, both genuinely challenging for it, and one player came off worse than the other. Or at least, one player pretended to be hurt and one didn’t. Boateng rolled around in agony… only to jump straight up and not even go off the pitch for any sort of treatment once he realised the ref wasn’t going to send Valencia off.
8. United have done so well in the Champions League this season, with the exception of Olympiacos away, which is baffling. How does Moyes get it right in Europe when he gets it so badly wrong in the league? There’s no point getting ahead of ourselves and expecting anything from the second leg, but if we play how we did last night, we’re in with a chance. We can’t afford to carry anyone though and stupid individual mistakes can make or break it for us. Maybe those stupid individual mistakes have already cost us. But we can hold our heads up high after last night’s performance, which has been a rarity this season, with the players and manager doing us proud.
To mark the anniversary of United winning the Treble with a team that had academy products at the core, Made in Manchester is available for just £3 for today only. Some of the best football writers take a player each, from Sir Bobby Charlton to Ryan Giggs, George Best to David Beckham, Duncan Edwards to Paul Scholes, and many more, with 30 articles in total. All profit goes to Trafford Macmillan so please support this fantastic cause.