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Sewn Up Already? Why Manchester Utd Shouldn’t Count their Champions League Chickens Just Yet.

No one told Robben the game was over, the party pooper.

Written by Greg Connolly.

When on 41 minutes, Manchester United’s Nani put a third past a seemingly flattened Bayern Munich side in last years Champions League Quarter Final, the ITV team spewed out a staple of TV commentary lexicon, claiming that the game was as good as over and that the red half of Manchester would be progressing to the later stages. It did, in all honesty, seem a given. However, humble pie was swiftly served up via a sweet left footed shot, courtesy of an ex Chelsea midfield man no less and subsequently, the Premier League champions were dumped out of the competition on their own turf.

Roll on four months and the draw for this seasons competition has seen Alex Ferguson’s side drawn against a team from his past and, though there has already been a rather polite discourse between Mr Ferguson and Walter Smith, the old argument about the gap between Scottish football and the premier league will no doubt once again hit the headlines when Manchester United take on Rangers, a game which has already been sewn up according to numerous articles which have appeared since the draw took place.

Firstly, the facts. For starters, Rangers are side who, like United are dealing with their own assortment of financial travails and, though they managed to secure the Scottish Premier League with a degree of ease last season, their sworn rivals Celtic, in truth their only actual challengers for the title had their own internal disorder to deal with and as their recent European footballing record goes to show (short of a cameo in the UEFA cup final a couple of seasons ago), Rangers are not a side which many Manchester United fans will loose a great degree of sleep over.

However, despite the seemingly obvious outcome, the very fact that once again, pundits and journalists across the media have already concluded that Rangers will be graciously spanked by United poses some questions. Not only is it slightly insulting to presume that the ‘Gers will be more than happy to bend over in the shadow of a superior side, managed by an old favourite, but as the Bayern Munich fiasco illustrated rather beautifully, until the final whistle is blown nothing is finalised.

Rangers are not the only squad who, according to the general consensus can look forward to a serious dressing down when they face United in the group stages of this years competition. Valencia, a side who thanks to their own dire financial scenario have seen their two star players fly the nest over the summer are also in line for a kicking, as are Bursaspor, a side which few will have even heard of. Still, though the gulf between the overall ability of last seasons Bayern team and these three sides is palpable, as Mr Robben illustrated back in April, there is no cause to consider any tie as won, until the ninety minutes are over, certainly not before a ball has even been kicked.



  1. elvido

    September 2, 2010 at 10:04 am

    No there aren’t any givens in football but there are three pointers and gimmes! And with all due respect to the clubs you mention, they are not Bayern and I will be very very surprised if United don’t go through with relative ease. And I assume you are of English origin or it is a language you use regularly, ” Manchester United fans will loose a great degree of sleep over.” It is Lose not loose, it seems that most of the football blog writers seem to use the wrong loose, one is the opposite of tight and the other is “Be deprived of or cease to have or retain”. Please decide what you are trying to say.

    • Greg Connolly

      September 2, 2010 at 10:53 am

      Grammatical errors such as the one you have generously pointed out cannot be excused and, for your own personal benefit, I will ensure that I know “what I am trying to say” next time. As for the content of this article, my point is singular and, whilst you are correct in pointing out that none of the three sides that United have to face are even close to Bayern in terms of ability, you seem to have missed it. Despite the general consensus, nothing is a given and whilst all the factors seem to point to a series of drubbings, I for one find myself wondering as to why teams like Rangers bother to turn up when their managers and star players seem to look forward to receiving a tanning from a team as magnificent as United. It’s akin to me accepting being spanked by Liam Gallagher simply because I appreciate his vocal ability. Accepting defeat before you’ve even played is embarrassing and, my point is that many a pundit may be wise to avoid making similar assumptions, less they get egg on their faces. Thank you for commenting.

      • elvido

        September 2, 2010 at 2:55 pm

        Sorry about the nitpicking mate,I seem to making a bad habit out of it. I understand what you were trying to really say, just that the spelling was kind of getting my goat over the last few days and i am not talking about here. Let’s hope we send out a team that can clinch that first spot without too many hiccups! Cheers!

  2. David Jones

    September 2, 2010 at 10:11 am

    When have United ever took progression for granted? There’s not a chance of that and this article is pointless.

  3. Danny Salford Red

    September 2, 2010 at 11:10 am

    You say several articles have appeared where United fans seem to be saying we are going through to the next stage as a gimme yet you provide no proof or links whatsoever to these articles. Therfore i must assume you are talking from your bottom as I have not come across a single one.

  4. Henri

    September 2, 2010 at 2:31 pm

    I’m a strong mancunian fan of United, and i have come across a host of my fellow united fans both in person n on blogs, but neither of us are deluded enough to think a game in the champions League is won even b4 d ball is kicked…and y do i say this…past experiences says it all…as you rightly pointed out in dat game against bayern…all the narrowest of escape by barca at d group stages…and most of all and i know that you and your fellow media-journos take great pleasure in spiting United, after which you all often do have eggs on your faces…so please next time do get your Facts right or at least employ a more constructive mtd…cause these are purely baseless…THIS SHIRT IS A SYMBOL OF DEFIANCE!!!!!

  5. Pingback: Champions League » Rangers fans jailed over Manchester riot following Uefa Cup final defeat –

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