Humiliated, clueless United come back to face the music
Thursday, 27 February 2014 00:25
REUTERS: Manchester United returned to England on Wednesday to be greeted by the type of headlines not associated with the club since they were relegated from the old First Division almost 40 years ago.
Their woeful display in a 2-0 defeat by Olympiakos Piraeus in the first leg of their Champions League last 16 tie has left them on the brink of elimination from the only competition they can still win this season.
The Daily Mail back page screamed: “Humiliated!” while The Daily Telegraph described them as “Clueless, Aimless and Hopeless”. The Guardian front page said they had a “mountain to climb” while the Daily Mirror described them as “Greek Clods”.
“Manchester United’s disastrous season was lying in ruins last night after they were humiliated in Athens” said The Sun.
Manager David Moyes and his players were roundly criticised not just for the defeat but for the manner in which they lost.
Henry Winter of the Telegraph said: “This was a horrible, aimless, passionless performance from Manchester United.
“This was a display riddled with errors from the players and the manager, David Moyes.
“United were too cautious in design, clueless in possession and too generous with space, seemingly inviting Olympiakos to score. Beware Greeks exploiting gifts.”
BBC pundit Robbie Savage, who began his career at United, questioned their team spirit and desire, describing the performance as “pathetic”.
He said: “The defeat in Greece was a new low for David Moyes’s team.
“Yes, the Greek champions are doing well domestically - they are 20 points clear at the top of their league and have not lost any of their 26 games - but Manchester United should not be losing 2-0 there.
“Some players let the shirt down - no question. The performance was desperately poor.
“We saw United players losing the ball without making a recovery run. They were giving the ball away constantly and not dynamic. In terms of a European performance it was pathetic.
“Were United lacking leadership, fight, team spirit? I’d say they lacked all three.”
United had their setbacks during Alex Ferguson’s 27 years in charge but the negatives have far outweighed the positives since David Moyes took over from his fellow Scot this season.
Although this was their first Champions League defeat this season, the performance was typical of the poor displays that have left them 15 points behind Premier League leaders Chelsea and likely to finish in their lowest position since 1991 when they were sixth.
The only United player to escape the opprobrium was Serbia defender Nemanja Vidic, who is leaving at the end of the season and may not be the only one heading out of Old Trafford.
Moyes, appointed with Ferguson’s full backing last year, is unlikely to go but he has had a season to forget.
So far he has seen United lose at Old Trafford to West Bromwich Albion for the first time since 1978, Newcastle United (1972) and Everton (1992) and at home to Swansea City for the first time ever.