Morning after the night before



Time heals but a second resounding defeat to Barcelona in the Champions League final is a pain that will not subside easily; the heavy hearts hardly aided by a collective hangover.

Thousands gathered, both at Wembley and in bars, clubs and hotels across Manchester and the country. Indeed, thousands of Reds descended on London, whether they held match tickets or not. The need to be part of the experience was overwhelming. The anti-climax as realisation set in that United could not, would not, defeat the Catalan giants was just simply cataclysmic.

Yet optimism grew as kick-off approached, aided by the Reds-only atmosphere and the liberal consumption of alcohol. Certainly,the Rant crew joined a packed bar in subduing any pre-match nerves with JD Wetherspoon’s finest. Sadly, the guest ale ‘Flight of Fancy’ was a more prescient name than expected. In hindsight, Sir Alex Ferguson’s troops had always lived on hope more than expectation against Barça’s collection of world stars.

The 500-strong crowd in this corner of North West London seemed, anecdotally at least, to have collectively travelled south, driven perhaps by the need to be closer to Wembley and Ferguson’s embattled team. Around 25,000 United supporters held tickets to the game; perhaps as many again travelled to the capital simply to be part of the experience.

Yet, even in the unlikeliest of settings – a cookie-cutter chain bar set in a shopping centre – this group of Reds generated an atmosphere rarely experienced at Old Trafford these days. How the Scot’s men could have done with this passionate support just one stop north on the Underground.

The singing began more than two hours ahead of kick-off, with few United legends left off an impressive roster of chants: Bryan Robson, Gary Pallister, Roy Keane, Andy Cole and the rest, in addition to the current crop of heroes. The men’s bathroom rocked to the sound of “Tallest Floodlights,” while an elongated version of Eric the King will surely have been heard in the nearby leafy Hampstead streets.

Ferguson’s men seemed to respond to the overwhelming support in absentia, hurtling into challenges, pressing high and forcing Barcelona into more errors during the first 15 minutes than rarely afforded during 90 minutes of most Los Cules fixtures. Although United’s bright start didn’t last the team’s ticketless fans pressed on in applying the rousing soundtrack.

While Pedro Rodríguez’ opening goal quietened the din it was only momentary; Wayne Rooney’s equaliser simply brought the house down. There is something about supporting United that encourages even the burliest of complete strangers to embrace in sheer joy.

The Wetherspoon’s screening was organised by Manchester United Supporters Trust (MUST), with 15 other venues across Manchester and London also showing the match. Around 15,000 fans gathered at the events. Reports agree that the atmosphere from the Ramada Hotel in the heart of Piccadilly, to Ministry of Sound nightclub in central London to the Point, Lancashire County Cricket Club’s fabulous new facility, was consistently up-beat until defeat was all but confirmed.

Frustration set in of course and anger supporters’ anger turned to Barcelona players’ prevalence for hitting the turf early and often. Perhaps the dawning realisation that fans’ heroes were being thoroughly outclassed nipped any potential for trouble in the bud. Indeed, supporters’ weary resignation to defeat set in as David Villa curled in Barca’s superb third.

Then talk quickly turned to the summer and much-anticipated rebuilding. While some fans called for an immediate clearout – the knee-jerk element growing louder during United’s second-half drubbing – the truth is more nuanced of course.

United’s current evolution could be accelerated by investment in top-class talent; whether the expected arrival David De Gea, Ashley Young and Raphael Varane falls into that category is certainly questionable. Sadly, overwhelming supporter demand for a midfielder to match Barça’s quality is yet to be heard by United’s top management.

Yet in winning the Premier League by nine points and reaching the Champions League final Ferguson’s side has surely over achieved this season. This was seemingly widely recognised by pub-going fans on Saturday night, who came in hope rather than certainty.

Many of this group have been driven from Old Trafford by the Glazer family’s excessive pricing. Therein lies something unique about United. The passion has not died, even though ticket prices and debt-fuelled ownership have excluded many from matches. UEFA’s disgraceful decision to offer just 25,000 tickets to each club competing in last night’s final – at £80 to £300 a piece – is yet another symptom in the race to monetisation of the ‘people’s game’.

Events such as those organised by MUST may become more commonplace. The group’s Chubb Club is already a Manchester institution, now expanded to exiled Reds in London. For now, United’s weary supporters have the summer to contemplate what might have been but look back on a thoroughly enjoyable collective event.

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  • Ted

    In all honesty Edward, the vast majority of us knew there was only ever going to be one out come, and that was a butt fuckin. We’ve just been a tad unlucky the last couple of years that this Barca team happens to be so special and yes i’ll say it, unstoppable. No FC Bruge’s or Munchengladbachs for us, and thats just the way it goes.

    But what troubles me and others like me is that there were so many who “believed the hype”, so many who actually believed this was destiny, a chance for revenge of 09′.

    But the truth of the matter is that we are clearly a worse team than 09′ and Barca even better than 09′ so how was we ever going to get revenge? Where was our argument to stop their magical midfield togetherness and understanding? Carrick? Park? Valencia? Giggs? It was never going to be anything else but a “no contest”. Probably the most disjointed and unfamiliar United team in 20 years up against probably, arguably the greatest club side that ever graced a football field. Its not just United, but probably no team in the world is on the same planet as Barca let alone the same pitch. I would’nt go as far as some others as to say United were a disgrace, but again i would certainly question what turned out to be extremely poor tactics. It scares me just how stubborn and narrow minded Fergie could be to think this United team was anywhere near good enough to go toe to toe with Barca, and playing a 4-4-2 against them. Talk about another Fergie suicide mission! Deary me! For starters, that formation meant the cockroach was never going to get a touch all night, and that Carrick would be left totally exposed, which meant as in 09′ we would be palying 85% of the game 30 yards from our own goal. Absolute fuckin joke! Who the fuck does Fergie think he is for fucks sake? Alan Smith on sky hit the nail on the head when Carrick was subbed…………….”As in 09′ in Rome, i think Michael will be glad to be coming off!” Not as fuckin glad as i was, albeit 75 minutes too fuckin late!

    Europe is always a bonus in my eyes and what ever happens happens! And i accept this was always going to happen, and grateful in a way they took it easy on us cozz it probably should have been a lot worse.

    But by now the red tinted mob should have inhailed plenty of the rosey smelling stuff, and hopefully realised that Barca, i hope, have done us all a massive favour, and we can prepare for next season. No more Youtube buys like Bebe and Obertan, and stop churning out Giggs and Scholes. Lets stop acting like a bargain basement outfit and start bringing in quality players who actually look like they are comfortable at this level, and not players who can’t believe their luck they keep getting games for us.

  • Violent Banana

    Atmosphere was terrific at Wetherspoons yesterday, i’d never seen a flying table before – a welcome addition to the incredible scenes when we equalised. But even when that went in there was almost a grim inevitability about the final result – and once the third went in it was a pretty torturous final 20 minutes; it’s pretty hard to mount a comeback when you don’t have the ball.

    Gulf in class was obvious, but personally I still believe Barca are beatable, and this United side are no worse in terms of quality than the Inter side that beat Barca a year ago.

  • herbie simms

    De Gea
    Rafael Ferdinand Vidic Bale
    Sanchez Sneider Rooney Costa
    Hernandez Hulk

    Send my team to SAF. SAF NEEDS A WAKE UP CALL.

    • http://www.unitedrant.co.uk/forum/profile/admin Ed

      Not thought we might actually need to defend sometimes Herbie?

    • dingleberry

      hahahaha. what a dick

      • mongoletsi

        // hahahaha. what a dick //

        Quoted for Truth.

  • Spike

    Ok, but only when you wake up from cuckooland.
    btw. why write under “Violent Banana” and many others,as well?…we Mods can see your IP.

    LKHF

    MUFC: THE RELIGION

    • Violent Banana

      Ah Spike, if you can see our IP’s like you claim, then I suggest you should be able to work out that I’m not Herbie. Given the team that Herbie claims we need to buy, your accusation that we are the same is almost libellous.

  • Godfrey

    There times on Sunday morning I was trying to convince myself that we were yet to play the catalans and it was all just a night mare.Fast forward 24 hours later its still no better.
    We were outclassed & its painful to even think that we were made to look like a bunch of school kids.
    I give two hoots to being dignified in defeat.
    I have never in seen Sir Alex so helpless.
    After the second goal when the camera zeroed in on the man it was painful,I have never seen him so damn helpless..

    Everything said and done we know we have over achieved with this squad of players ,but the fact they mopped the pitch with us is just gonna keep haunting.Whatever said they have three blokes who are inhuman and if that wasn’t enough they have a classy support act to boot.
    Can we not have just one class act to bolster our midfield.just one….

  • http://damiangarside.com Damian Garside

    Commiserations to all Utd fans who post on this site. I think that if everyone picked had played the game of their lives, we could have extended that initial period when we had them on the ropes, and not conceded the first goal, and had a chance.

    But Barcelona are a great team setting a near-perfect standard and now we know who it is we must strive to knock off their perch if we are to succeed in Europe. Note: they are a great team, we don’t have a great team, perhaps we don’t even have a teaM: our back 4 picks itself almost. up front there are a couple of variations, but in midfield we are at a loss as to which combination will work best in which game (or even which combination will work together at all). That is not the basis for winning European Championships. We need to build, but we need to build around a new spine: great new central midfield player, great new central defender to step in for the ageing, injury-troubled Rio, and great new central striker (presuming De Gea is a done deal). This is the starting point and should cost us somewhere between 80 and 100 million, in other words, the Cristiano Ronaldo money plus some loose change. We need to start to cultivate a style of play (and the formations that allow this) that has a real chance of working against the Barcas and Reals of this world. If the Glazers aren’t up to funding this and Sir Alex persists in squandering money on players in the hope that they might be the next CR7s (the 8 million squid for Bebe, voted recently in the Guardian the 2nd worst buy after Torres), instead of buying players around whom he can build a team, and not to simply strengthen a squad, then I see real fan discontent at the Theatre of Dreams. After winning so much since 1993, we are absolutely certain that we will not allow the Empire to crumble (and will definitively ram all those `tick tocks’ back down City throats). None of us can contemplate us going back to the United 80s or 70s or even the 60s. This just can’t be allowed. Those of us who supported United through those decades (and I think of the 70s, our worst decade since the war) were happy with the odd cup win or an away draw at Anfield. Not us.

  • Bill

    I think Godfrey’s last point hits the nail on the head. Surely they can invest in one top quality midfielder?

    We could have had Sneijder for 12 mill 2 seasons ago but we waited, so we will have to spend 25 mill plus bigger wages but it is absolutely essential we spend the big bucks this time.

    When we bought Hargreaves we had him and Scholes as our world class central midfielders with Anderson, Fletcher and Carrick as back up. With Hargreaves gone and Scholes a squad player there is no excuse but to spend money to replace them with one player.

    I am 100% sure Sneijder would be a success at United, he has all the attributes necessary for English football and the Dutch usually success in the premier league, especially if they are world class.

    If we bought in Sneijder, Young, De Gea and Varane then I think that is an acceptable summer’s business. Leave the first name off the list and it is not.

  • Spudiator

    I think someone needs to inform Herbie that the real-life football transfer window doesn’t work quite the same as it does in Championship Manager games!

    Still depressed about the performance as a whole, far more so than the end result. I can begrudgingly accept United being beaten by a better team (which we were) if the players out there were at least putting their all into it and making an effort, everyone’s spunking their pants at Barcelona’s performance but the sad truth is they played so well because we allowed them to. Nobody was closing down the Barça players, maybe they was afraid of being booked if they got too close (we saw what happened in the semi-final with Busquets, et-al rolling around like pansies as soon as anyone got within a mile of them), maybe they were overwhelmed by the occasion or maybe they just showed Barça too much respect, but whatever the reason, Barça were given too much space and freedom and it was an embarrassment of a performance.

  • shauno

    Inter best barca last season and Arsenal did this season niether team technically better. So stop with the barca are invincible and we would never get anywhere near them. Liverpool won 3 times in europe by knowing when to shut up shop (granted they didn’t have to contend with the back pass rule). We couldn’t compete with their midfield so why did we try? Park was running around like a blue arsed fly. He didn’t need to he along with Rooney and Valencia should have been part of the 10 behind the ball which would have let Barca back 4 creep further and further up the field and given Hernadez more space. When Paisely’s Liverpool side met teams better than them they stuck 10 behind the ball. So many times in teh second half Valencia rooney and park did not track back to the 18 yard box.

    • vlad

      Yep.
      Choose mind-numbing, grinding efficiency over flair.

  • herbie simms

    I just put a team out there just to get some feedback and to see some of your choices and who you think we should buy.
    SAF maybe looking more into buying a replacement for Hardgreaves. If he does not buy an attacking midfielder, I do believe Ravel Morrison is going to have a crack at this position. Don’t get me wrong, SAF is serious about bringing in quality players that are good enough to compete with Barcelona. There is talk but only talk about buying two strikers, Benzema and the HULK. That would mean Berbatov, Michael Owen, Macheda and Diouf will be gone.

  • Spike

    FFS
    Nearly half the fookin IP’s are coming out of California..what’s up with this frickin forum?

  • http://damiangarside.com Damian Garside

    Hi all

    I saw a very interesting United future team posted by a reader of the on-line Guardian, which suggests that our future could lie with dispensing with the idea of out and out wingers and playing the twins as wingbacks and bringing in a real quality central midfielder to work with Rooney who would then be and out and out attacking midfielder. It would entail a radical move away from the 4-4-2 thinking in all its variations, towards a truly creative 5 man midfield. If Hernandez is the future as lone striker or playing off another striker, then maybe crosses from the flanks are not going to be our primary route to goal any more.

    Anyway, the team contained a 5 man midfield of (if I remember it correctly) Schneider, Sanchez, Rooney and the twins, and the options then would be either 2nd striker or defensive midfielder to screen the back three centrebacks: our primary plan A and primary plan B.

    Scoff if you want to, but it’s a real alternative to potent wingers who never see the ball because the opposition is running through our powder-puff midfield. I also think that it will be able to exploit the real versatility of Raphael and Fabio.

    Anyway, I am just putting it out there because it is an example of the kind of team we can come up with if we are prepared to think a bit differently.

    PS This IP is coming out of South Africa, and if you have problems with this then I suggest that you speak to the Editor to try and figure out how you can keep a website for a team that has a world support base of 300 million in your own tiny backyard. Our team is full of Dutchmen, Koreans, French Africans, Serbs, Brazilians, Welshmen, Scots, Irish, Mexicans, Bulgarians, so you had better get over your narrow provincialism.

  • Spudiator

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-1392321/Steven-Gerrard-taunts-Manchester-United-following-defeat-Barcelona.html#ixzz1NsN0PjPT

    What an utterly odious, small-minded cunt Gerrard really is! There’s a Scouse fan on another forum I frequent who constantly gets the piss taken for turning every footy discussion into a United v Liverpool grudge match, and it’s no wonder so many Liverpool fans are this way when even their best player is showing such small-mindedness. I really hope he wins fuck all for the rest of his career (always a distinct possibility anyway as long as he stays at the bindippers), he seems to portray himself as the greatest player of a generation, but how many medals has he got to show for his career to date? Not a fucking lot.

  • Dinkinflicker

    Assuming Giggsy’s missus does one and takes her share of the asset’s, she’ll still end up with 6 more premiership winners than that scouse cunt.

    You’re right about the tactics being wrong on Saturday Spud, but the problem was that we closed down too much (barring Messi’s goal), not too little. Don’t know if you were at the game or not, but it was clear as day to me. We were closing down high up the pitch but couldn’t get near them, so all we did was create mass area’s of space for them to exploit. We should have taken a leaf of our 08 book and play uber negatively and see if they could play through us. Doubt it would have mattered though, they’re the best side i’ve ever seen. That said, with the right summer signings i reckon we could have a better go next year.

  • Spudiator

    I didn’t go to Wembley Dinkin, it was my brother’s wedding so I skipped out during the evening do and watched it on the big telly in the hotel, and it just looked to me like Barça were being given far too much space to pass it around at their own leisure. Didn’t seem to me like anyone was putting enough pressure on them, especially when they were on the offensive. We all know they’re pretty adapt at passing, and perhaps they are the best passing team in the world at the moment, but it looked like our players were just standing there watching them pass.

  • Dinkinflicker

    We were handed our arse, plain and simple mate. At times we tried to press high up the pitch and left ourselves exposed. At other times we just couldn’t get near them. We got it wrong tactically but they’re a brilliant side. I’ve seen us get beat before but i’ve never watched a united game where after 20 minutes I felt were were out of our league. Even after Rooney’s goal I couldnt see us getting anything. Biggest disapointment for me was Valencia because i thought that might have been the one area of the pitch where we could give them some trouble but it never happened.

  • steggo

    Barcelona are without doubt a great side.Unbeatable? No.The Greatest Team ever? Debatable. However what is worrying was the way the press and so called pundits have lauded them.To read or listen to the pre match hype you would think there was only one team involved. This narrative continued during the game-everything Barcelona did was “superb” or “fabulous”. I even e-mailed the BBC (radio 5) that there were actually two teams taking part.
    That aside why the hell do we keep only playing Park in these big games.It seems that some of you on this site rate him but he never actually does it in the really big games. Take Saturday.For 20 minutes he ran around like a blue arse fly. He then looses all semblance of positional sense (where the hell was he when they scored their first goal)! It appears he gets tired and his passing (not the greatest at the best of times) goes to pieces. The number of times he lost possession on Saturday was pathetic. He was exactly the same in the 2009 final.
    He is and always will be what used to be described as a “journeyman” footballer-a good squad player, nothing more and nothing less. So don’t big him up. He should never have played in either final.

    • SKW

      Did you watch this season?

      Park, like the rest of the team, might have looked woefully out of his depth, but to claim he never really does it in “big games” is ridiculous. He did it in big games all year. More so, perhaps, than any other player we have.

  • triggs

    Blog Commenter said:
    De Gea
    Rafael Ferdinand Vidic Bale
    Sanchez Sneider Rooney Costa
    Hernandez Hulk

    Send my team to SAF. SAF NEEDS A WAKE UP CALL.

    I thought you had SAF’s email address?

    I think your team could be a bit more attacking, maybe put Rooney in goal and play rush goalie?

    • mongoletsi

      SuperLOL :o)

  • squigs

    Blog Commenter said:
    Barcelona are without doubt a great side.Unbeatable? No.The Greatest Team ever? Debatable. However what is worrying was the way the press and so called pundits have lauded them.To read or listen to the pre match hype you would think there was only one team involved. This narrative continued during the game-everything Barcelona did was “superb” or “fabulous”. I even e-mailed the BBC (radio 5) that there were actually two teams taking part.
    That aside why the hell do we keep only playing Park in these big games.It seems that some of you on this site rate him but he never actually does it in the really big games. Take Saturday.For 20 minutes he ran around like a blue arse fly. He then looses all semblance of positional sense (where the hell was he when they scored their first goal)! It appears he gets tired and his passing (not the greatest at the best of times) goes to pieces. The number of times he lost possession on Saturday was pathetic. He was exactly the same in the 2009 final.
    He is and always will be what used to be described as a “journeyman” footballer-a good squad player, nothing more and nothing less. So don’t big him up. He should never have played in either final.

    Park was superb, absolutely superb against Chelsea only a few weeks ago, he was in the team on merit.

  • Alfonso Bedoya

    Spudiator said:
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-1392321/Steven-Gerrard-taunts-Manchester-United-following-defeat-Barcelona.html#ixzz1NsN0PjPT
    What an utterly odious, small-minded cunt Gerrard really is! There’s a Scouse fan on another forum I frequent who constantly gets the piss taken for turning every footy discussion into a United v Liverpool grudge match, and it’s no wonder so many Liverpool fans are this way when even their best player is showing such small-mindedness. I really hope he wins fuck all for the rest of his career (always a distinct possibility anyway as long as he stays at the bindippers), he seems to portray himself as the greatest player of a generation, but how many medals has he got to show for his career to date? Not a fucking lot.

    Bah… that’s just the scouse twat in him, tormenting the United fans… Neville is just as bad towards the Verrrmin… let him wave his “5″ around… it’s very hollow… all you have to say back is, “12 and 2″… the number of league titles and Champs titles Giggs has… compared to his……………………. “ahem” ………………… “1″.

    “Badges, to god-damned hell with badges! We have no badges. In fact, we don’t need badges. I don’t have to show you any stinking badges, you god-damned cabrón and ching’ tu madre! Come out from that shit-hole of yours. I have to speak to you.”

  • Steve

    Utd need a world class midfielder. Unfortunately I can think of only 3 truly world class midfielders, Xavi, Iniesta and Messi. Not sure if we’ll get any of those. Sneijder is close though.

  • Just1n

    Blog Commenter said:
    Hi all

    I saw a very interesting United future team posted by a reader of the on-line Guardian, which suggests that our future could lie with dispensing with the idea of out and out wingers and playing the twins as wingbacks and bringing in a real quality central midfielder to work with Rooney who would then be and out and out attacking midfielder. It would entail a radical move away from the 4-4-2 thinking in all its variations, towards a truly creative 5 man midfield. If Hernandez is the future as lone striker or playing off another striker, then maybe crosses from the flanks are not going to be our primary route to goal any more.

    Anyway, the team contained a 5 man midfield of (if I remember it correctly) Schneider, Sanchez, Rooney and the twins, and the options then would be either 2nd striker or defensive midfielder to screen the back three centrebacks: our primary plan A and primary plan B.

    Scoff if you want to, but it’s a real alternative to potent wingers who never see the ball because the opposition is running through our powder-puff midfield. I also think that it will be able to exploit the real versatility of Raphael and Fabio.

    Anyway, I am just putting it out there because it is an example of the kind of team we can come up with if we are prepared to think a bit differently.

    PS This IP is coming out of South Africa, and if you have problems with this then I suggest that you speak to the Editor to try and figure out how you can keep a website for a team that has a world support base of 300 million in your own tiny backyard. Our team is full of Dutchmen, Koreans, French Africans, Serbs, Brazilians, Welshmen, Scots, Irish, Mexicans, Bulgarians, so you had better get over your narrow provincialism.

    i fucking hate South Africans.

  • sidney

    Lol

    I’ve never met a nice South African

  • Just1n

    sidney said:
    Lol

    I’ve never met a nice South African

    yeah me to. All they do is come over here and take our jobs…

  • http://www.sourceofgravity.com Bill

    I’ve met a couple!