OLD TRAFFORD, MANCHESTER — There have been too many false dawns for Manchester United and David Moyes this season.
So many, in fact, that most fans are sick of hearing it.
But finally, in a big game when he needed it most, the United manager drew a performance out of his players that resulted in a 1-1 draw with Bayern Munich.
It perhaps wasn't the most pretty game of football Old Trafford has seen on one of its big European nights. But there was energy and discipline. And it was a world away from the two 3-0 defeats to Liverpool and Manchester City this stadium has seen in the last few weeks.
Even City were blown away in the opening hour of their game against Pep Guardiola's side at the Etihad Stadium in October. And Moyes at least made sure that never looked like it was going to happen here.
His team were compact and hard to break down. And for all Bayern's possession, they rarely tested David De Gea. It was United who can claim to have had the better chances.
It means United will go to the Allianz Arena next week with something to hold on to.
But more than that, it was a display that restored some pride to a club that has had its ego battered over the last nine months.
There is still every chance United will end up being knocked out of the Champions League by Bayern. They'll certainly head to Munich as underdogs.
But Moyes must not let this type of performance against arguably the best team in the world go to waste.
If United can play like this against Bayern, then Newcastle on Saturday should be no problem at all.
After all, it has been in the Premier League where United have struggled under Moyes. St James' Park is a tough place to go, but it is a game Moyes needs to win. He has to show that he can coax these performances out his team every week instead of every now and again.
That is what Sir Alex Ferguson's United did. They raised themselves for 3 p.m. kickoffs on a Saturday afternoon in the same way they did for a Champions League semifinal.
That's Moyes' big test.
After a good performances against Crystal Palace, they were beaten by Olympiacos. After a comfortable win at West Brom, they were thumped by Liverpool. After victories over Olympiacos and West Ham, they were battered by City.
Aston Villa on Saturday was followed by Bayern on Tuesday. Next up is Newcastle. Will the real United please stand up?
Moyes and United can be proud of what they achieved, against all odds, over the reigning European champions. It will, however, take more than one positive result to change the way this season is viewed.
But a draw against Bayern, coupled with a win at Newcastle, followed by another encouraging display in Munich and another against Everton at Goodison Park later this month will help heal some of the damage that has been done this season.
Perhaps then we can conclude that this particular new dawn wasn't false at all.
And that after all the defeats, blame and disappointments, there's light at the end of the tunnel.
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