Moyes Has Made Sure Man United Fans No Longer Dare To Dream
For the briefest of moments, on Wednesday night, Manchester United fans had their club back. As Patrice Evra celebrated his stunning strike with the frenzied gusto of a man who gets what it means to pull on the famous shirt, jubilant United fans dared to dream.
Alas, the elation was short-lived. Bayern Munich immediately punctured United's tyres and it wasn't long before the wheels came off altogether.
Some have since showered praise on the reigning English champions and their manager. After all, they argue, over two legs United were by no means embarrassed and even looked, for a time, like they could beat Europe's best team.
Yet therein lies the problem. United, after a first half during which they kept Bayern at arm's length with little real discomfort and, arguably, even created the better chances, had the German side on the ropes during the second period.
In the end, however, this tie will be remembered for what could have been; had Wayne Rooney not fluffed his lines on two occasions at critical moments; had United's team, brimming with vast experience as it was, not conceded Robben's fateful equaliser so soon after taking the lead; had Moyes reacted with greater haste and decisiveness when it was clear that things were unravelling fast; had Rooney, so clearly playing at fifty percent of his best due to an injury that probably should have cost him his place in the starting lineup, been withdrawn and replaced with a fitter, sharper and therefore more dangerous Javier Hernandez; had the English side been more positive at Old Trafford, the week before.
The sight of Danny Welbeck being withdrawn while Rooney remained on the pitch summed up Moyes' tenure perfectly. The Scot has allowed Rooney to become undroppable and impossible to substitute, despite confirming, after the match, that "At times it looked like it was a struggle striking the ball" for the Liverpudlian. It begs the question, why keep him on the pitch then? A striker who struggles to strike the ball is like a car without an engine. Playing Bayern Munich is a daunting task at the best of times. Willingly playing them with ten and a half men is bordering on a dereliction of duty on the part of the manager.
Indeed, even after Bayern had levelled the tie, Rooney had a glorious opportunity to restore United's lead. His shot was the footballing equivalent of a wince, rolling tamely across the turf with all the ferocity of a summer breeze.
By the final whistle, it was impossible not to feel that this was the end of an era. The mighty Manchester United may not be enjoying meaningful European nights like this again for a long time, such is the staggering malaise that has gripped the club, this season.
Moyes can point to a handful of positive performances from the likes of Shinji Kagawa, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling, on the night, but abject displays against the likes of Olympiakos, Liverpool, Manchester City, Fulham, West Brom, Everton, to name just a few, are a fairer reflection of what a catastrophic failure Moyes' time at the helm has been.
It is all very well for Moyes to accuse his players of playing like schoolboys but it is his job to make absolutely certain that this does not happen. Then, if it does, it is his job to react, as opposed to simply staring in wide-eyed surprise at the mess unfolding before him. It is becoming incredibly tiresome to hear this man, so grotesquely under-qualified for the role he has landed, blaming his players for his own shortcomings.
It comes as no surprise that Pep Guardiola, Jose Mourinho and Carlo Ancelotti now take up three of the four remaining Champions League managerial berths. To think of any one of them overseeing the putrid wound of a season that Moyes has bestowed on United fans is laughable.
Now those fans are left with the grim prospect of heaven knows how many years in the European wilderness, as players who had become synonymous with the club look set to abandon it like rats on a sinking ship.
Manchester United, scandalously, now bid farewell to European football's elite competition; to those magical floodlit nights; to that glorious, shivers-down-the-spine refrain; to those trips to wonderful cities and awe-inspiring stadiums; while their greatest and most loathed rivals, Liverpool, welcome it back with open arms.
Manchester United fans no longer dare to dream. David Moyes has made sure of that.
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