First Team Match Reaction News

What We Learned: Manchester United 3-0 Olympiakos

It’s tough to sum up a victory such as this. On the one hand, it was a victory over one of the weakest sides left in the Champions League, and a response to one of the worst European performances in the club’s history, but then, in a season bereft of moments worth shouting about, Manchester United delivered a decent performance and advanced to the quarter finals of the only competition they stand some hope, however unlikely, of winning this term. Many in and out of Old Trafford doubted whether a comeback from 2-0 down with the threat of an Olympiakos away goal was even possible, and hairy moments were frequent, but the roar which greeted the final whistle last night should confirm just how much such a victory means to the club and its fans during this tough start to life under David Moyes. After Sunday’s capitulation against Liverpool, the Scot must surely be the most grateful of all.

Van Persie reminds everyone of his worth

The criticisms that Robin Van Persie has faced in recent weeks aren’t utterly without merit; United looked far more free after his substitution for Danny Welbeck against West Brom earlier this month, and a free header sent to the side of Simon Mignolet’s goal last Sunday was his only real contribution on an afternoon that required far more from the club’s attacking talent. On Wednesday night, however, the Dutchman was in utterly lethal form. Three times he was given presentable opportunities, first from Ryan Giggs’ superb pass that led to a penalty, then netting from Wayne Rooney’s low drive before firing in a second half free-kick.

It’s difficult to say whether the increased, critical scrutiny on United’s greatest asset up front has been justified, given how little service he has received of late. Last night proved that, if given the ball in dangerous positions then Van Persie can make things happen. That simply hasn’t been the case over the last few weeks, so naturally, frustration crept in. If the Dutchman continues to receive service of the quality we saw last night, then he can pose great problems for any defence. His work off the ball, and desire to close the visitors down when not in possession shouldn’t go amiss, either.

Moyes has bought himself a little time

Pre-match, it was easy to expect little from United given their exploits in high-pressure situations this season, and thus, many prepared for the worst. But come kick-off, and the grandeur and fanfare that Champions League matches bring, that feeling seemed to leave instantly. Considering United’s potential opponents in the quarter finals of this competition, Moyes should not expect to reach the last four, but that wasn’t important last night. What was far more pressing was overcoming a beatable side in what amounted to the Scot’s biggest game in charge in an effort to give the club and its fans something, anything to shout about in a season bereft of achievement. Simply put, victory was sorely needed, and should give everyone at the club a lift in the midst of a thoroughly wretched season.

Giggs and De Gea were brilliant

It says something that a forty-year-old was the one who seemed to be able to provide Robin Van Persie with the sort of delivery that the Dutchman has been dearly missing of late, and even if this is Ryan Giggs’ last season at the club, then it cannot be claimed that he’s simply been along for the ride. The Welshman worked particularly hard off the ball, outstripping Michael Carrick in almost every department and providing United with a great platform from which to attack. The curling, accurate delivery he provided has been sorely missing from this side for some time, and the passes that led to the first and second goals were sublime.

David De Gea has frequently been left out in the cold by his defence this season, and has seen clean sheets and results slip away due to some incredible frailty at the back. Patrice Evra did little to alter this trend as Josh Campbell surged down United’s left flank unopposed in the first half and crossed for David Fuster, but his goal-bound header was stopped at point-blank range and the Spaniard was equally alert to Alejandro Dominguez’s near-post follow-up. It was a stunning double save with the game still in the balance; another goal conceded would have left United needing three to qualify, but De Gea remained alert and was exceptional when called upon, dealing with every late cross that came his way with confidence.

Sitting back almost cost United the game

Despite the positivity surrounding such a result, it’s worth remembering that there are a number of teams that would have punished United ruthlessly and conceivably repetitively for daring to sit back as deeply as United did last night with the tie still in the balanace. Olympiakos seized the opportunity to attack with the hosts seemingly hesitant to kill the game off, and bombarded De Gea’s goal with crosses. They played without fear for most of the evening, and were perhaps unlucky to leave Manchester with nothing to show for their strong efforts in both legs. United’s greater class up front proved the difference, and their ability to turn the tie around and come out on top offers some relief, but inviting pressure with the tie still so close very nearly cost them dearly.

It will be a miracle if the club wins the Champions League

At the risk of denouncing Moyes’ achievement, it’s worth pointing out that Sir Alex Ferguson failed to reach this same stage in each of his last two season’s in charge. Admittedly, a last sixteen tie with Real Madrid last year hardly helped, and Olympiakos were hardly the greatest challengers, but Moyes has at least fulfilled achieved something in guiding United through to the quarter finals. Their opponents all look fearsome in their own way, with both Madrid sides, Barcelona, Chelsea, Bayern Munich and Paris Saint Germain all clinching progress with relative ease. Jurgen Klopp’s Borussia Dortmund stuttered more than any other of United’s potential opponents, and should they draw United, a suspension for star striker Robert Lewandowski could prove heartening, but there’s no doubt that these seven teams are perhaps the strongest that United could conceivably face in this competition at this stage. Plotting a route to the semi-finals, let alone reaching them, will take some real work.

manchester united vs real sociedad

Is it impossible? Of course not; we’ve all seen English teams suffering from poor domestic seasons produce something special in Europe, but United’s season has been so lackadaisical and uninspiring that it feels all the more unlikely. Moyes has only presided over one poor performance in eight European games, suggesting that the Scot has more of a handle on continental matters than those on his own doorstep, but he, and the club will surely have their work cut out for them whoever they face in a few weeks time.

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9 replies on “What We Learned: Manchester United 3-0 Olympiakos”

re-posting this from the previous article because i feel kagawa is soo important to the team!!!

who do we have that has energy…. speed…. and can pass just as great as giggs…. hmmmmm…. kagawa!!!!

i cant believe the most simple yet obvious thing is not being blasted out as much as possible!!! KAGAWA NEEDS TO BE OUR CENTRAL ATTACKING MIDFIELDER!!!

we lack attacking intent… kagawa is our solution!! this is the one place has hes practically never played in.

the one time he did in the champions league… he produced about 3 amazing goal scoring opportunities within 10 minutes or so!!

its soooo frustrating kagawa is being so blatantly ignored!!!

rooney is a striker…. wasted playing so deep! his skills would be better used if he had the attacking support of kagawa!

his best season is undoubtedly when he was our main striker! midfield does not suit him, makes him less efficient.

Rooney is not a natural no.10 in the mould of Kagawa or Mata. It was Giggs who played that role more than Rooney against Olympiacos.

Rooney is a striker.

I have learned to be grateful for small mercies.

The ‘real’ United would have had no problem home or away against Olympiacos.

However, the Moyes United is quite capable of producing the most insipid, gutless, pathetic etc. of performances against anybody you care to mention. United fans have been in such a miserable state of shock for the last few weeks as we have witnessed so many uninspiring and inept performances, that even the law of averages had to have sympathy for us. That showed up on Wednesday evening.

Enjoy the moment because momentary is all our success will be, under Moyes.

Rooney’s statement that the team “needs to go on the attack” says everything about Moyes’s negative management style that have dragged this club down to the realms of ridicule and jokes. The man is a survivor as he showed at Everton but he is not a true winner. The MU way is to win playing to our strengths and let the opposition worry about us, not the other way round.

with d absence of Robin, so Rooney could be as a striker against westham. alongside with him > Mata-Kagawa-Nani (if he fit) & Januzaj. would be an awesome attacking provide, imo.

Something must be wrong with with Kagawa. 2 ManU managers have played him yet placed him back on the bench. Just like Zaha. Is he starting at Cardiff? Attitude problem maybe?

Too many players vying for the same position? If RVP leaves Rooney moves up front then Kagawa fills in. What about Mata?

As professionals, they must learn to play at least 2 positions in order to survive in a highly competitive football career. For 300k a week, they should.

What we learned is that United can attack and get goals when they go for it,that used to be the norm.Dont know how much the Glazers know about soccer.Results will be a big factor regarding Moyes,future the rest of the season.Have learned the fans can still have a big say by not putting up with crap football and a crap manager.We know United need some new blood but we also know the fine tuning is missing and all the parts are spluttering along and some on the shelf.OK lets see what develops on Saturday can only hope.

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