If you’re looking for a write-up about how amazing Barca were, how its time we got rid of Carrick or it’s the end of the fergie era then you may as well stop reading now, for this isn’t a doom mongering blog.
The starting XI on Saturday was the 1 id say 99% of united fans wanted, the 1 that had turned Chelsea and schalke over and the 1 that was expected to close Barca down and attack them on the break.
Apart from the absence of a Fletcher like player starting I had no complaints, my big main issue was that Ferguson couldn’t find room in the squad for Berbatov, not only our top goal scorer but the golden boot winner in the premier league.
However in Fergie we trust!
I’ve watched the match from start to finish twice and the highlights once, none of them make for any pleasant viewing, Barca were very good going forward and were worth their win. Best club side ever? I'm sure the Real Madrid team that won the European cup back to back 5 times might have something to say about that. Our team that beat more or less the same Barca team in 2008 could also be in for a shout.
It was a similar tale to the 2009 final, a bright-ish start from the reds, or white in this case, chasing and closing down.
Sadly our hearts were broken yet again when around the 20 minute mark Pedro was found unmarked after Evra got sucked inside, he wrong footed Edwin and that sense of déjà vu hit us united fans.
This time however we kept in the there just about and our 1st real attack of the game saw us get a goal, Carrick starting the move, to Rooney, to Giggs back to Rooney and a fantastic finish, it was like the scene in rocky 4 when the seemingly unhuman Ivan Drago gets cut open by balboa, this super Barca team had conceded, they are human after all.
From this point on Barca kept the ball and we were left chasing shadows, with no one in the midfield who as jack Wilshere suggested should rightly get in their faces, Barca were allowed to do pretty much what they wanted, we got to half time at 1-1 and our hopes still alive.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing but this is when id have changed it, you may argue Fletcher wasn’t match fit, why he wasn’t given minutes at Gary Neville’s testimonial is a crime by the united staff. I’m sure he would have been able to give us at least 45 mins, sticking him in there alongside Carrick, and Giggs, bringing off Hernandez who didn’t get in the game at all. I'm sure we could’ve frustrated Barca then and hit them on the break. Its all ifs and buts, however I just find it bizarre that a player that was widely acknowledged we missed in 09 wasn’t given enough preparation for this or even tried out.
I had been saying all week that Barca would focus on Carrick in midfield as he likes time on the ball and that’s exactly what they did, Carrick however I didn’t think played that bad, Giggs if anyone was the 1 that was lost in midfield, chasing shadows in an attempt to get the ball for a second or so. Again in Fergie we trust.
The 2nd half was painful to watch, no attacks from us, hardly any possession just Barca playing to win the game and us hanging on, when Messi scored that goal, been given time on the ball to place a shot that again van der sar should’ve saved I knew it was game over.
We all know what happened next when David Villa scored a great goal, it was 2009 revisited only this time we had scored with our only attack.
If you can get the ball off them and get at them you will score, getting it being the hard part.
For any fans with upmost belief that we would somehow come back that was put to rest when Paul Scholes came on. Fergie before hand saying that if we needed a goal then we would turn to Owen as he could grab you a goal, we all now no the reason Scholes came on as it was his goodbye to united fans, Ferguson must have known at this point it was game over, not one for sentiment to get in the way of a result, Fergie let the united legend say goodbye.
So it’s another champion’s league season over and one that tastes of defeat, not really as bad as in 09 when I think we all thought we would win.
Winning the league for the 19th time was the best possible antidote fro any kinds of depression that may loom into our heads.
Against any other team I'm sure we would have won on Saturday or at least got a bit closer, but like I touched on earlier this Barca team is beatable, if we meet them again next season I hope its over 2 legs, I can see us beating them I really can if we change our tactics. You must also remember no team has ever won the European cup in its present format back to back, that’s not saying Barca wont do it but its extra hope for us that next season we may reach the promised land again, add to that fresh faces arriving at old Trafford this summer I'm sure next year we will be ready for them or anyone else.
So where do we go from here? Not THAT far if you ask me, ive said all season that I think united are 2 or 3 world class signings away from reaching that top level and I stick by that.
A max exodus is not what this club needs right now, remember we won the league by 9 points, yes there are some players that need to be moved on but not the 1s that some fans are suggesting, id keep Carrick, id keep Berbatov and id re-sign Owen.
The team needs slight tweaking and not wholesale changes. I wouldn’t change the way we play grand scheme either to match Barca style, we need to forget about them and concentrate on adding some quality to our side. We are champions of England.
I'm going to do a write up on who I believe we should sign at a later date, briefly the areas that we need are
A new Keeper
2 Central midfielders, match winning & game breaking
A winger wouldn’t go a miss either but let’s not be greedy.
Like I said ill go into greater depth about targets and who I think we should sign at a later date.
Just to round things off today a united legend unsurprisingly hung up his boots, Paul Scholes!
Easily my favourite player of the fergie fledglings ( not counting Giggs) I don’t think it came as an real surprise to his him hang up his boots. He’s been a fantastic player and servant to our club, always quiet and never bringing any bad light or unwanted coverage onto our much loved club.
Due to his shy manor Scholes never received the accolades from the media as he should, if he had the looks of Beckham and love of the limelight he would, however its that shyness that makes him loved and adored by united. At least true world class players like Zidane, Xavi and iniesta know exactly how good Scholes was. Almost every Barca player making a bee line wanting to swap shirts with him on Saturday sums it up more than words ever can.
Scholesy always went about his business on and off the field quietly and is a true role model to any united youth player, which shows the sense in Ferguson putting him into a youth coaching role. Its vital to keep that Manchester United mentality in our club and drum it into the kids at a young age, no one has that mentality more than Paul Scholes.
I doubt very much Scholes will read this but due to the power of the internet there is always a chance, so id just like to take this opportunity to say a huge thank you and its been a privilege to watch you play for my beloved club. Just like Edwards, Charlton, Best, Schmeichel, Cantona and keane you will never be truly replaced.
Paul Scholes – 1 of Manchester United’s greatest ever players