How did Schalke get this far?

Pocket

Three weeks ago I poured scorn on the fact that apparently everyone wanted to play Schalke as they were the weak link left in the champions league draw.

Tonight I realised why they were given that tag as they looked like what their position tells us they are – an average midtable side in the German league.

Apart from the keeper, they were absolute garbage. They offered nothing, they gave Man Utd easy possession at the back and in midfield, there was no urgency from them and nothing in attack either, and on top of all that they had a manager who seemed incapable of changing anything.

What must Raul have been thinking during all this? Here is a man with a European record second to none, reduced to a spectator. It must have been humiliating for him.

Luckily for Raul, Ryan Giggs only took one of his 4 or 5 great chances. I hear a lot of people banging on about how great Giggs is – and yes he is in great form. But his finishing is one aspect of his game that has never improved and did he miss some chances tonight!

The Schalke keeper had a good game, but most of the reason why they remained in the game as long as they did was down to the awful finishing – the game should have been over at half time.

Credit has to go to Manchester United though as they played well and controlled the game. At no stage did they ever look in any trouble and such was the difference in class, Ferguson was already talking about resting players for the 2nd leg in his aftermatch interview.

I doubt he has ever had an easier night in Europe at such a late stage in the competition.

Ryan Giggs gets United through

Pocket

Having watched both legs of Manchester United’s Champions League quarter-final with Chelsea, it hasn’t been too difficult in recognising that Ryan Giggs was the main reason United won.

He seems to now be turning into the creative midfielder that United have lacked at times this season. I keep on hearing that this isn’t the best United side ever produced by Alex Ferguson, and that the reason for that is mainly down to a lack of creativity in the middle of the park.

Well having watched Giggs in both games against Chelsea, it’s hard to say that there is a lack of creativity in the United midfield at the moment – although due to Giggs’ age, it’s obviously not a long term solution.

Plenty of credit has to also go to Ferguson for his rotation and handling of the squad, I’m quick enough to (rightly in my opinion) criticise him for the way he conducts himself with referees, so when he gets things right, it’s only fair I praise him too.

He got the team selection right against Fulham on Saturday, and he got it right against Chelsea as well.

A special mention also has to go to Park Ji-sung, how much work does this guy get through?

He also isn’t a first choice selection, but you never hear him moaning or dissenting, he must be a managers dream.

People might say that Alex Ferguson is lucky to have him, but I’d disagree with that. I don’t think it’s down to luck, I’d say Ferguson did his homework on Park and knew exactly what he was getting when he signed him. It can’t just be a coincidence that Ferguson keeps signing players who don’t cause a problem.

I thought that United deserved to go through over the two legs, Chelsea were better tonight than they were in the first leg, but they didn’t seem to have enough quality where it mattered.

Chelsea contributed to their own downfall. Ramires deserved his red, he can’t complain. To make the tackle he did on a yellow was stupid.

They also managed to concede in less than a minute after they had scored to get themselves back in the contest, you can’t do that at this level. And Torres also flopped again.

To add insult to injury, Chelsea have been pulicly taunted by Ferguson. He had already accused them of being obsessed with the Champions League, and now he has got his usual sly kick in, this time with Fernando Torres.

On the face of things Ferguson just seems to be making an honest general comment about Torres and how he is a good player who will find his form soon, but in reality he is having a go and trying to add to the pressure by claiming they had to play him because of his hefty price tag.

It was typical Fergie.