Rating the Manchester United Players Against CFR Cluj

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Rating the Manchester United Players Against CFR Cluj
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
FC Cluj

You have to ask how much longer Manchester United season ticket holders will accept being held to ransom for Champions League tickets at £50 and have to watch a mediocre performance like tonight's 1-0 loss to CFR Cluj.

The biggest response of the night came when the crowd was announced as 71,500. Supporters gazed dumbfounded at rows and rows of empty seats, probably wishing that they too had stayed at home and wasted their ticket price.

(To explain, when you get a United season ticket you have to sign up also for as many home Champions League and FA Cup matches as United play. This means you get an extra fee debited from your card every time.)

On a freezing night like tonight, watching a patched-up team who look like they also wished they were elsewhere, treating it like a training match, it begins to feel like extortion.

Obviously the United hierarchy are concerned that there would be hardly any crowd for a dead rubber like this match. And who could blame them?

OK, so there is a curiosity value in seeing how reserve players can perform on the big stage, but if supporters are going to be held to ransom they should at least get a decent performance out of the players.

Frankly, however, this was outrageously bad. It would have been little surprise if the chant "what a load of rubbish" had started toward the end. Maybe that would have shocked one or two of those senior players on show who say they are competing for a first-team place.

On tonight's showing, hardly any of them would even make the bench for Sunday's derby match. And if these players are the future of the club (with the exception of Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs, of course) then United will soon be heading the same way as Liverpool and Arsenal.

What is most worrying is that in the past Sir Alex has usually been able to get a response from his players.

Instead, and presumably despite the manager's warnings about not conceding the first goal ringing in their ears, United started slow and produced an early pantomime this festive season. 

It was an insult to the 71,500 who actually had to pay for this farce, whether or not they actually turned up. A long drive home in five degrees of frost made it even more of a regret.

So very few of the players on show did themselves much good. This is becoming a bad habit, and it surely can't be long before Sir Alex decides that the future is more bleak than he keeps telling us.

Could be a good time to retire?

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