UEFA Champions League: Manchester United Didn't Deserve To Beat Rangers
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Well, who was expecting that? Rangers came away from Old Trafford with not just their dignity intact, but something else in the eyes of most neutral observers:
A pot of gold.
The Scottish champions were never expected to compete with the might of Manchester United, but in the end it was Sir Alex Ferguson’s men who were unable to show any fight.
Rangers may indeed have parked the bus as many observers have claimed, but at no stage did United throw the kitchen sink.
Financial restrictions have seen a marked decrease in the quality of Rangers’ squad year by year for over five seasons now. If last year’s Champions League campaign had been anything to go by, they’d lost their heart as well.
Not only that, but every other Scottish club was out of Europe before Rangers had even stepped onto a foreign pitch, and the national side have been nothing but a letdown.
There was little hope for the nation going into Tuesday’s match for anything like a performance.
That is why so many Scots, even ones that dislike Rangers, went to bed happy on Tuesday night.
Walter Smith lined his visitors up very defensively, as was to be expected by the clearly inferior team (even to the less than full strength line up Sir Alex opted for), with willing runners in Stevie Naismith and Kenny Miller expected to get a hold of as many scraps as possible and hold onto them for dear life.
The United were supposed to breeze this fixture, so much so that even the Red Devils' gaffer struggled to get his team onto the pitch with any sort of fighting spirit.
The expected onslaught never came, and Rangers were comfortable from the off with the United restricted to long-range efforts and half chances. I’m not even sure Scottish international Allan McGregor had anything like a tricky save to make.
Beyond parking the bus, the Glasgow side kept the ball intelligently, and 55/45 possession was by no means a disgrace in Manchester. It allowed valuable seconds for their defence to reshape and recover ahead of further attacks led by Darren Fletcher, who must have passed the leather off the ball as the United were often forced backwards or sideways.
They simply were not sharp enough, despite the almost certainty that upping it into anything like another gear would in all likelihood have left the Scottish visitors unable to compete. The facts that the first corner came in the 85th minute and the United made far more fouls than the Gers says to me the visitors were comfortable and were fully deserved of their point.
In the end though, Rangers came out with their heads held high with Sasa Papac, Madjid Bougherra and Maurice Edu standing out for me.
A mention, too, for Kirk Broadfoot.
Despite his shortcomings, he never shy's away from the action. Even in front of 74,000 fans inside Old Trafford, he was always willing to take the ball in any situation, a trait I still believe helped Rangers invaluably on their UEFA Cup run two seasons ago.
Manchester United, though, didn’t show anything close to enough heart to deserve all three points against a team who clearly held more value for their European mission.
And for their trouble, the Scottish outfit now have what can only be described as a Champions League bonus point.
Andrew McNair will be attending all three Rangers home games in the CL, featuring Valencia, Buraspor and Manchester United as well as catching as many other games on the television as he can. Join him as he diarises his own thoughts, feelings and experiences throughout the 2010-11 season.
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