Fergie wrong to play blame game

Sir Alex Ferguson blamed “typical Germans” for Manchester United’s exit from the Champions League last night but he needs to look closer to home before playing the blame game. In a season of mediocrity by United’s very high standards Ferguson’s search for answers lies within, not in the decisions of referees or actions of opponents.

The Scot gambled both on youthful inexperience in Rafael da Silva and Darron Gibson and the fitness of his talisman last night. Ferguson could hardly do anything else after the drab displays in Munich and then against Chelsea.

It almost worked with United’s vibrant first half performance the best by the Reds for months. United and Ferguson at their best, trusting in the team’s attacking instincts to carry the day.

Then at three up United imploded. Michael Carrick’s poor defensive work, followed in quick succession by Rafael’s mindless tug on Franc Ribéry. Typically, Ferguson chose to focus on the actions of others and not his own players’ failings.

“They got him sent off,” said Ferguson of Rafael’s red card for two bookable offences.

“There’s no doubt about that and they would have never won if we had 11 men. He is a young boy, inexperienced and there’s a bit of immaturity about what happened but they got him sent off. Typical Germans.

“That sending off changed the game. I thought they were typical professionals in the way they saw the opportunity and forced the referee. It was only a slight tug at the boy and, Jesus, he was 35 yards from goal.

“He was having a marvellous game and it’s a tragedy for him but the ref wasn’t going to do anything until they forced him to get a card out. But we’ve seen that before from teams like that.”

But there is little need to resort to blame – first the referee against Chelsea and then the opponents last night – when by-and-large United has caused its own downfall this season.

While the side has struggled with its defensive work all campaign – understandably at times – United’s passing is of an abjectly lower standard than in the past. It’s a problem Ferguson must quickly address if United is to challenge in Europe next year.

But perhaps the team’s biggest problem is its passivity, with no obvious team leader having emerged in the post Roy Keane era. Such is the team’s desperate need that Ferguson resorted to deploying a half-fit Rooney as much for his inspiration as for his football last night.

The risk backfired with the forward limping heavily after a 20th minute challenge and never recovering. Now the striker is likely to miss at least the fixture with Blackburn Rovers this weekend.

Ferguson, outlandishly, accused the German side of deliberately targeting the 34-goal forward.

“I think that’s obvious,” he said.

“I don’t think there was anything serious, but there were a couple of challenges. We expected that, and the referee should have handled it.”

And then in his final analysis Ferguson chose to blame luck for the away goals defeat to Bayern Munich, with the German side scoring a deflected free-kick last week and benefiting from Rafael’s red card last night.

“I don’t think the best team got through,” the manager said.

“We have had occasions when we have had luck and I think they have this time. It’s hard to digest. In one way we could say we have thrown it away; in another we’ve been very unlucky.”

Indeed, football is won and lost in details but over the course of a season United’s 11 defeats signal the writing on the wall for this team. Professional football waits for no man.

At least the first 40 minutes of last night’s tie offers Ferguson a guiding light pointing to a better future next season. United must defend, pass and attack with more quality of that, as Ferguson likes to say, there is no doubt.

Spending is almost certainly required but perhaps so is a change of mindset. Starting with the club’s leader, Sir Alex.

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Comments

  1. Real Red says

    The turning point was their first goal.
    And just on HT when, in the dressing room, van Gaal would have made ready psychological capital of just being one goal short of utopia.

    U can imagine what he chalked on the blackboard.

    1. Keep clacking Rooney – ever so slightly – he’s fragile alright.

    2. Rafael’s on one yellow. With him on, Ribery can’t get a look in.
    Zo we must get him another booking. Einfach.

    3. Froggie, then u can start. Keep looking for Arnie on other side.

    3. Arnie – just take a swing at it when u get opportunity.

    Even a bunch of nob-heads would take that plan on board.

  2. vlad says

    Sending off was a sending off but I feel that an extra couple of yellow cards to Germans should have been given, to Lahm and to Ribery at least.
    Their game was typical ‘professional’ foul.

    And still, it was very nice to see those German faces astonished and frightened when they saw Rooney in the tunnel!
    van Gaal’s plan A was going bust.

    • Real Red says

      What amazes me is that Ribery did not get a yellow for the proverbial ‘retaliation’, let alone the ugly gob of his bleating about his pram toys.

      Yet, Rafael’s FIRST booking was for just that. He took a swing at van Bummer or whoever after the former Dutch/Deutsch clinically scythed Rafael down.
      If I remember right the ensuing free kick was awarded to Bayern!

      Talk about consistency.

  3. Dominic says

    Great result good to see another english team papped out. The days of buying success with borrowed money looks to be coming to an end. 1.2 BILLION pounds was the last count that is the EPL debt. You got what you deserved and it took that smug look from your faces. IF CARLSBERG DONE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE QUARTER FINALS…………LOL

    • says

      Way to go with the xenophobia!

      But probably important to get some facts straight. I think you’ll find the debts a lot more than 1.2 bn and mostly due to leveraged buyouts at Liverpool and Manchester United. The wage/turnover ratio at United is about 37%. But if you can name me a Spanish or Italian club not in debt then there’s a prize in it for you. They all are – about 1 bn Euros at Real Madrid and Barcelona alone. Perhaps we should accuse Barcelona of buying success too?

      France & Germany have strict financial regulation but its been 8 years since a French or German team made the Champions League final. Financial fair play isn’t a problem in England alone, it’s a Europe-wide issue.

      • Real Red says

        Hey Dominic. Get real bud.

        Since the very early days the Latins have been buying success by emptying bank vaults or wherever. Ed is right.

        Even after all that you should be the one that’s embarrassed since English clubs have figured highly in the last 7 (maybe more) Euro semis – sometimes with as many as 3 clubs.

        Because we English have so cottoned on, the likes of Pratini et vous-meme don’t like it now we beat you at your own game (this year excepting).

        Grow up petit fils and accept it. We don’t bleat when you win World Cups by back door and handle balls into net. Let’s face it – THAT is real cheating.

  4. knot says

    Don’t forget the loss of possession every time Utd got the ball. Carrick is a disgrace. It is high time Fergie learns that Berbartov is totally ineffective in games against elite teams. He is just a passenger on the team. He should only be played against small teams. We have to accept that we made a loss (30m); this was a financial Berbo(bubble). Macheda can do a better job any time. The team also lacked composure after Rafael’s red card. All we had to do was to keep possession but we kept clearing the ball towards the Germans. Utd needs to start using the young players as the first team from next season. Gary Nevile should be dropped with giggs and scholes only coming in as substitutes. Ferdinand and Vidic are shadows of their former selves. Utd needs to buy 2 world class mid-fielders who can control midfield as good as Hargreaves and 1 world class striker to supplement our attack. Ferdinand should stop being an automatic selection on the team sheet. He lacks conviction and the hunger to win. Evans should favorably compete for a starting place. We lost the game in Munich because of Fergie’s bad selections and tactics. The Team should have used an attacking mentality rather than the cowardly defensive mentality. We got battered and we have paid the price!

  5. samuel says

    i know germans r a bunch of stupid guys including z damme referee, i don’t think he decide to spent off rafael that scarface push z referee to do it, any how we r z best team ever, i think z referre shall play with z germans cuz he don’t even do any thing when Rooney was forced, am so ashamed of him, also there is a damme person michel platini he hate english teams that’s why z referee doing this shit thing, we saw last year how chealse knock out from champions league, any how good luck to our best team man utd, about bayern or bla bla stupid team, i know they are arogant stupid sulfish so we don’t have to say any thing about them they just a professional foulers, that scarface evil face riberry i hate him cuz he is the cuz of rafael absence, man utd best

  6. mop head says

    New players are now a must especially in central midfield. Fergie seems 2 be choosing energy over ability and adapting a far more cautious approach 2 games these days. We need a genuine attacking central midfielder who can pick the right pass in the final third and reach double figures in the scoring charts. Too many times we deploy a 5 man midfield with 3 energetic central players but no guile. Scholes plays 2 deep now(even though his best game this season was against Arsenal when Fergie shifted him further up the pitch where he does so much more damage) and along with Giggs cant keep up with the best Europe has 2 offer. Back in 1999 we played 2 up front(Yorke, Cole, Sheri or Ole) with scholes far more advanced and giggs and Beckham chipping in with goals and assists aplenty, a system we deployed home and away against the cream of the European crop. An exciting brand of football that brought us great success. For me when Mclaren left as number 2 and Queiroz came in our approach became far more cautious and has continued 2 do so.

  7. SKW says

    Gutted after last night, but this loss is down to Fergie.

    Yes, Rafa should not have been sent off, but after that happened, Fergie should have brought on a forward and a defender so he could try to keep Bayern on the back-heel. When he didn’t, I looked at my friend and told him we just lost the tie, as there was no way we could keep Bayern out for 40 minutes.

    Unfortunately, I was right. We lasted about 10 or 15 before giving up a goal. Pathetic. How can Fergie get it so wrong? You have all the ball. Keep it!

    But I must admit, the better team did go through. Bayern outplayed us for 3 out of 4 halves and their midfield dissected ours. Ribery and Robben are talents. Valencia and Nani are prospects.

  8. says

    Ed,

    I think Fergie is right on this one: “Ferguson, outlandishly, accused the German side of deliberately targeting the 34-goal forward.”

    If you saw the incident after twenty minutes in to the game where Rooney injured his “weak ankle”, van Buyten didn’t come to play the ball, but just kicked Rooney to the shin. The ball was played up, around chest/head height so seeing van Buyten kick Rooney into lower shin doesn’t really make sense considering going for the ball.

    Second incident happened maybe ten minutes later, Rooney was shielding the ball which was maybe a yard in front of him, but van Buyten came from behind to his “weak ankle”.

    Coincidence? Just accident? Not at this level of game.

    It wasn’t obviously the deciding factor, although it was clearly one of the factors. One of the other being Fergie’s inability to take Rooney earlier off when he was clearly not able to contribute for the team’s effort.

    But Fergie got this one right and I’m disappointed that he hasn’t really being supported (even among United fans). I for myself, don’t want to see football turn into those of American sports. Where teams can’t anymore tell what body part their players have injured, because they would be targeted to there in their first games.

  9. The devil inside says

    Ed,

    I think you got it wrong. I am actually ashamed you are a United supporter. Watch both games again. Maybe you’ll see better next time. Their players targetting Rooney, scrappy goals, Ribery and half the Bayern team being cunts. United didn’t deserve to win CL this year. We were quite awkward at times. But Bayern deserved it even less. I am 100% behind Fergie. He won us awful lot of trophies. He is the ultimate United manager. I believe you need to change your mindset and not SIR ALEX.

    • says

      I’ve been going to United matches home, away and in Europe for more than 25 years and running this blog for the past six. I’ve followed United in good times and bad so I’ve certainly earned the right to offer criticism. You’re ashamed that I have an opinion that’s different from yours? I’m ashamed that a fellow red would strike such a low blow.

  10. The devil inside says

    25 years you say? Then I am also very surprised. I generally like asrticles on this forum. But this one is quite hard to swallow. You are right to critisize, but not right to interpret facts that suits you.
    Yes, United were pretty poor by their standards this season. They also made quite some mistakes during 2 matches with Bayern. But to say that things weren’t as sir Alex described them is quite strange.
    Did Rooney not get targeted by Munich players? First thing they did was to make sure he was kicked in the right spot(Van Buyten…). They stopped when the damage was already done.
    Then the second yellow for Rafael. There was pulling. Also from Ribery. Ribery then gave Rafael an elbow, or did you miss that? Referee gave the second yellow after Bayern’s players abuse. But hey, why talk about the facts…
    Then there is also Bathstuber or whatever his name is. Foul on Nani from the back aiming the ankle. Given only yellow.
    Then there is Van Bommel’s numerous attacks with no action. But hey, why talk about the facts…
    Bayern played dirty. Fergie was right to point that out. His mistke was to generalise german approach. Bayern probably won because of Rafael’s unfairly sendnig off. They couldn’t do anything before the sending off. Even Olic’s goal was United’s mistake.
    But as you say it is all United’s fault. Yeah right. Next thing you’ll probably say is to sack Fergie…

    • says

      All your interpretation not, as you say, facts. Point of the article is that Ferguson needs to focus on the important things – getting the squad balance right for a start – not on running a war with the media or “typical Germans.”

      Yes, United had some bad luck, the Munich players surrounded the referee, Ribery committed a foul. But this was a poor Munich side that United of a year ago would have beaten. Ferguson needs to concentrate on returning the club to that stature. That’s all.

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