Ferguson Gamble Pays Off
I thought Alex Ferguson’s team was a bit of a risk tonight. I fully understood him changing the attack and the midfield, but I was really surprised to see him change his back four in the way he did and I thought at the very least, that Vidic would play.
Anyway it worked, Smalling and Evans were never really troubled enough by Schalke. Smalling may have made the error that led to the goal, but I doubt that Fergie will be that bothered as he wasn’t bought for the here and now (take note Arsene Wenger).
There was a spell in the 2nd half when Raul dropped deep and saw a lot of the ball, but apart from that United were comfortable throughout. It was a sad way for Raul to depart the champions league if that was his last performance in it, but at least he wasn’t part of the Madrid team humiliated by their own manager and Barcelona over the past 10 days.
Although he is unlikely to start in the final, I really feared for Paul Scholes after he picked up yet another stupid booking just before half time. I don’t suppose I was the only one who wondered where it might end up.
Despite almost lunging in for a tackle on around the hour mark, a point made by Jim Beglin in the commentary, he got away without the 2nd booking and is thankfully available for the final.
After the 1st leg I thought all the hype about Schalke keeper, Manuel Neuer was a bit over the top on the back of one performance, so what happened too him tonight?
Obviously one dodgy performance doesn’t make him a bad keeper, in the same way that his first leg showing didn’t make him the world class keeper he has been talked about as being for the last 8 days.
The comprehensive way in which Manchester United have beaten Schalke over the two legs does make me wonder what the hell Inter Milan were playing at that night in the San Siro, their first choice defence must have all been out injured, or all drunk.
I also don’t think Pep Guardiola will be underestimating United either, if all his squad are fit then Ferguson will have a settled team that won’t be out worked by Barcelona with the likes of Giggs, Park and Rooney’s workrate.
Tonight’s team was also testament to just how much Park Ji Sung’s stock has risen at Manchester United, 12 months ago this is the sort of match he would be brought in to play in. He is now well and truely established in the first eleven.
My 11 for the final (if fit) would be Van Der Sar, Rafael, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra, Nani, Carrick, Giggs, Park, Rooney, Hernandez, with Rooney obviously making up a midfield three/five. I generally prefer Valencia on the right, but I think Nani’s pace could be vital against a dodgy Barca defence.