Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughChannel five welcomes woeful Manchester - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough Channel five welcomes woeful Manchester - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

Channel five welcomes woeful Manchester

It wasn’t a good day for Manchester in Europe on Wednesday night. Before kick-off, most expected Manchester City to fall out of the competition. Not because they couldn’t beat a weakened Bayern Munich at home, but instead because they needed a big favour from win-less Villareal. 

They didn’t get it, and consequently have been shifted to Thursday night’s on Channel Five with the rest of Europe‘s second tier.

Second Tier is where Manchester United will be playing their football for the rest of the European season too. A section of football which will include a team who in 2008 were champions of England, Europe and the world.

It will be a shock to the system for many of the United players, and particularly manager Sir Alex Ferguson who has never before taken United into this competition. Left-back Patrice Evra said he was ‘embarrassed’ at being dumped into such a competition. Despite his manager’s views that every competition they enter they expect to win and avoid an early exit, the Frenchman clearly believes his team don’t belong there.

For years the Europa League has been down-graded by so many, but now it consists of the top two in the English game currently. It will boost TV figures but do no positive thing for United. Thursday night game’s will be followed by Sunday league fixtures which will not help their domestic campaign as they chase a 20th title. 

So why haven’t I mentioned City? Well, it was there debut season in the biggest competition in world football. They have a squad capable of Champions League success but are in-experienced as a group at this level. Their domestic campaign is looking good and qualification for next year’s competition is almost guaranteed. They will have a stronger squad and will be much more prepared for the rigours of the competition next term.

United meanwhile haven’t fallen at this stage since the 2005-06 season and couldn’t think of anything worse. Any fly on the wall would have been lucky to be in United’s dressing room on Wednesday night. Fergie’s hairdryer would have almost certainly come out, accompanied by calls to go out and win the Europa League. 

It won’t be easy though. City want it too. Boss Roberto Mancini insists his team must ‘now go and win the Europa League’. It is a trophy; another step on their success story towards European dominance. This is a multi-year project and the league championship coupled with a few other trophies is no poor start.

They are in the semi-finals of the League Cup and five points clear at the top of the Premier League. United, meanwhile, were knocked out of the League Cup by Championship side Crystal Palace and face a daunting 3rd round FA Cup tie away to Man City themselves. 

Could it possibly be a trophy-less season for the Red Devils? Their city rivals are still in the mix for four. That would hurt so the Europa League has to mean something to Ferguson, even if it just builds up some bragging rights.

The league title is still his priority, and although not pretty, United are continuing to win games. But issues have to be addressed, such as their lack of goals. Four 1-0 victories in six league games isn’t so convincing and again last night, goals were hard to come by. Phil Jones scored his second in two games but this time it didn’t matter. 

Certainly they have the strikers in Rooney, Hernandez, Welbeck, Berbatov and Owen. Unfortunately three of these are injured, while the main weak link is in midfield. Paul Scholes created goals for his side and controlled the pattern of his side’s play. His position hasn’t been filled and the potential problems of that are now being shown.

You cannot rely on a 19 year-old all season long in Phil Jones. Michael Carrick is one dimensional and Darren Fletcher isn’t what he was. Ryan Giggs is only used sparingly and Ashley Young hasn’t convinced everyone he is a winger with the calibre for United.

Despite all this, people may find they watch much more Europa League this season. Stoke City and Birmingham act as the deterrent. 

Max Whittle

Football Friends Football Blogs bring you the latest football news and opinion from football fans around the world.

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