The Manchester United malaise continued with a dour 0-0 draw at home to Rangers in the opening match day of the Champions League group stage. For eleven time Premier League champions and two time European Champions to draw at home in the Champions League to a Scottish Premier League side is (with all due respect), a ringer of many alarm bells.
Although United were predictably dominant with 21 shots, only three would give Rangers goalkeeper Allan McGregor any trouble.
Even Old Trafford injury time could not save United as Wayne Rooney, shaken by the saga which is his private life, failed to recapture the scintillating international form shown against Switzerland. Tonight, there were so many wrongs on the pitch as United struggled to get to grips with Rangers, and with an obvious lack of bite upfront, the problems with team chemistry require quick solutions from the man who has seen it all – Sir Alex Ferguson.
However, nothing should be taken away from Rangers as they produced something to be proud of against a wounded animal, from whom many expected a backlash. It never came, as a staunch defensive display frustrated United. Once again, the whole ‘big vs small club’ argument may arise from the more bitter and spiteful of mouths, but with disparity wider than ever between the Premier League and the SPL, few neutrals could blame Rangers for their game plan.
It worked and it worked brilliantly, with only two points now separating United and Rangers from Valencia, after the La Liga side thrashed Turkish side Bursaspor 4-0 away – the ratings are as follows:
Kuszczak – 5 – Remained untested throughout.
Ferdinand – 6 – Did little to help the cause other than to shore up play.
Smalling – 5 – Unimpressive Champions League debut.
Fabio – 5 – Languid and unremarkable display.
Brown – 5 – Ditto.
Gibson – 4 – Completely ineffective, with a lack of creativity in shooting.
Fletcher – 5 – Found himself crowded out by countrymen.
Park – 4 – Passing was particularly astray and unhelpful.
Valencia – 6 – Unlucky to sustain such a severe injury, his departure affected United.
Hernandez – 5 – Plenty of room for improvement, didn’t hold a particularly good partnership with Rooney.
Rooney – 6 – Looked uneasy in parts, but showed flashes of interest.
Owen – 4 – Ineffective, brought on too late.
Evans – 5 – Wasn’t actively looking to bring play forward.
Giggs – 5 – Veteran coolness did not emerge, with United already disheartened before he came on.
McGregor – 7 – Marshaled his defence well in a very tough game.
Weir – 8 – Defied age with a steely determination.
Papac – 7 – Held nerve well during United’s build up play.
Bougherra – 6 – Acquitted himself well with some important moves, although lucky not to gift United a goal.
Broadfoot – 6 – Ruthless tackle ruined United’s night, but otherwise competent.
Whittaker – 6 – Solid display all around.
Edu – 6 – Ditto.
McCulloch – 7 – Took on some talented midfielders tonight, but held things together very well.
Naismith – 5 – Didn’t exactly give United hell.
Davis – 6 – Was snuffed out a lot, but not too bad a display.
Miller – 6 – Tried his best, but had no support from a midfield too concerned with containment.
Lafferty – 5 – Came on, worked his shift, that was about it.
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