Well, what a bloody good night that was!
The nerves were quickly settled thanks to our opening display and an early goal from Nemanja Vidic. There was the feeling of us starting the way we’d finished in the San Siro. Dominant, looking for a goal, desperate to progress. You only had to look at TNSSO’s starting line-up to see he came to Old Trafford for penalties, just like Sir Alex Ferguson said they would. Of the 21 matches we’d played at home this season, on only one occasion did we fail to score (Villarreal, September 08). Sadly for Inter, Mourinho rated his defence highly enough to think they could become the second team to achieve this. Four minutes in, TNSSO’s plan was out of the window, penalties were out and Inter needed a goal.
They came close, hitting the woodwork on two occasions, as well as a couple of other decent chances. Vidic pushed Ibrahimovic wide enough in the first half to make the angle too tight in the first half, yet the ball still rolled painfully close to the far post. But essentially, they didn’t have a lot to offer. They were trying set pieces from freekicks awarded just inside our half and even when time was running out for them, they still refused to throw their players forward. It was ridiculous.
At 2-0 up, the confidence obviously increases, whilst always aware that if they get one back now, they’ve still got plenty of time to score that all important second. I didn’t want to be five minutes from time knowing that an equalising goal would send them through on away goals. They just didn’t look desperate enough to put us in that position.
Their shooting was at times though, when just after an hour played Ibrahimovic shot wildly, almost resulting in a throw-in. A minute late, Adriano did the same, except his attempt was even worse!
What has to be mentioned is that Inter weren’t creating too much of a threat by themselves, until we gave them a helping hand. The amount of lapses in our concentration was shocking! Time and again we’d be playing the ball to one of their men in dangerous positions. Possession would be with us again but then straight away we’d do the same things, cute little flicks which ended up giving the ball away instead of just playing the sensible pass. It was so frustrating! Had I seen us do that against Fulham, I’d have been swearing a team like Inter would punish us for it. Fortunately, they didn’t.
The most important thing here though was progressing, however we had to do it. To get a 0-0 draw in the San Siro then beat the Italian champions 2-0 at our place is a good way to do it. The fact that Mourinho has been sent tumbling out of Europe at the Round of 16 is even better.
“Yes, I am happy now, because I have a desire to play against the best,” Mourinho said after the draw had been made back in December. “Manchester United is a team of champions, with a super coach like Alex Ferguson. We will have a great deal of motivation.”
In hindsight, I’m sure Mourinho would have been a lot happier had they been drawn against Sporting Lisbon! His desire for his team to play against the best was not matched with ability to beat the best. After people prattled on about Mourinho’s record against Ferguson, TNSSO sensibly reminded the press that it wasn’t his record, rather it was Chelsea’s. That was clear for all the see, when the best team in England saw off the best team in Italy, despite a comedy of errors at Old Trafford which should have seen Inter at least score a goal against us!
Regardless, we’re through to the next round and have to wait until next week to find out who we play. A good draw sees us through to the semis and we’re one step closer to retaining the trophy. But I do hate the talk of the quintuple. Of course, for as long as we’re in all competitions, our aim is to win them. However, I don’t think any United fan (at least those with sense) would have the audacity to claim that we will win all the trophies this season, that would be ridiculous. You know though, the moment we lose a match or get knocked out of a competition, everyone will be sneering and laughing. ‘Ha! You thought you were going to win five trophies and now look at you!’. No one at the club has said we will win all five, it is just something the media have hyped up, yet it is the fans who will get stick for it. Can you imagine winning the Premiership, League Cup and World Club Cup, yet still there being people who think they can have a right good laugh because we didn’t win the other two on offer. Guaranteed, that will happen if we don’t win everything.
All in all, life is good at the moment. Let’s hope life becomes great at the weekend!