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Erratic Manchester United's exit from Europe was inevitable

By Real11 - Dec 13 2023 190 Views
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Manchester United's long suffering exit from Europe comes as no surprise 

It's been a lingering death for the Red Devils in the Champions League, but that doesn't make Tuesday’s elimination any less humiliating. 

A campaign which started with a 4-3 loss at the Allianz Arena against Bayern in September ended with another disappointing defeat to the Bundesliga champions, this time 1-0 in Manchester in December. Yet much damage wasn’t caused on Tuesday but in losses to FC Copenhagen in November and Galatasaray in October. 

The sum and substance is that a side that concedes 15 goals does not deserve to advance to the Round of 16. United is not seen as one of Europe’s finest and haven’t been for quite some time now. Whilst remaining respectful of Copenhagen and Galatasaray, please allow me to disagree on this being the ‘group of death’. United have been lacklustre throughout their campaign. If you bottle a 2-1 lead against Copenhagen and then a comfortable 3-1 lead against Galatasaray, you are bound to pay the price sooner or later. 

Manchester United like to think of themselves as an ‘Elite’ club, alongside the likes of Bayern Munich and Real Madrid, but the German giants have qualified for the knockout rounds of the Champions League every year since 2008-09. Madrid’s run on the other hand stretches back even further to 1997-98. Meanwhile, United have suffered four group stage exits in their last nine attempts and haven’t made it past the quarterfinals in almost a decade.     

 Copenhagen’s 1-0 win over Galatasaray in Denmark added salt to United’ wounds as they have even missed the safety net of the Europa League, and finishing bottom of their group, are all together out of Europe before Christmas. 

After Tuesday’s loss, the United boss tried to highlight some positives but, in reality, there are none. 

"There are still many things to play for, and now we can focus, of course, on the Premier League," Ten Hag said. "This is the level we want to play, the Champions League, so we have to give every effort to be in the top four and next year be back in the Champions League. Then, of course, we have the FA Cup. So, there are so many things to play for.

"The facts are we do not have enough points. We are disappointed as a group. As a manager, I am disappointed. We should have done better."

Bayern Munich under the lights would have been the recipe for an enthralling European night at the ‘Theatre of Dreams’ in the past, but this was abysmal. Despite requiring a win, ETH’s men could only manage one shot on target and created just one clear chance for skipper Bruno Fernandes, which he smashed well over the bar. 

Witnessing Bayern in action, it was enticing to think they are the side United wish they were: neatly playing from the back, manoeuvring through the tight spaces. 

Bayern, lost 5-1 to Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday, were not at their very best, and boss Thomas Tuchen often was seen wildly gyrating on the touchline in agitation; but they still steered clear of any United threat. Munich opened the scoring in the 71th minute via a wonderful pass from Kane which was calmly slotted past Andre Onana by Kingsley Coman. 

Of course, the Bayern forward (Kane) was involved in the only goal of the match, the player more than half of the home fans thought their club should have bought in the summer transfer window. 

“Harry is always a difference-maker, 100 percent," Tuchel said. "With his personality, his calmness, his quality, the team knows anything can happen in any minute with Harry. He is one of the top leaders in the group."

With Tuesday’s loss, United hit another low and registered yet another miserable record- nerve before an English team has conceded as many goals as United (15) in the CL group stage. The damning statistics do not just end here. Their seventh home loss is their 12th overall loss across all competitions so far this season. 

After a convincing 3-0 win over Everton at the end of November, it’s now only one win in five fixtures, and will play Liverpool next on Sunday. Ten Hag will likely have to go to Anfield without two of his key players- Harry and Luke Shaw, both of whom suffered muscle injuries against Bayern. 

"We are losing players and players who are very decisive for our game, who can make the difference," Ten Hag said, "and in many games, it was also the case in this campaign."

"We did not always have the players we wanted to play. That's definitely a part. Now I give you a reason but don't see it as an excuse, because even when we are not all on board, we still have to win because they are targets that belong to Manchester United."

When Ten Hag’s team were close to getting knocked out of the tournament with a whimper in the final minutes, the away fans in the corner of Old Trafford waved the home fans off heading for home with a resounding chant of "Auf Wiedersehen."

The final whistle came a few minutes later accompanied by a chorus of boos from the supporters who stayed, officially bidding farewell to Europe for another season. Once the best on the continent are now even struggling to make a mark.  

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