Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Anti-football earns a point as United continue to struggle

Managers with two very different teams

I have long been an advocate of allowing the two Scottish ‘giants’ Celtic and Rangers to play in the English league. The reason I say English league rather than Premier League is that watching Scottish football and their teams attempts to make progress in European competition, I have always been far from convinced that they could cut it at the highest level of the English game.

Gulf

Last night gave us another opportunity to see if the gulf in class between the two leagues is as big as I think it is. The Scottish champions, Rangers, played at Old Trafford against one of England’s top teams, Manchester United, in the Champions League.

United went into the game with Wayne Rooney, fresh after being protected from the hate campaign at Goodison Park and Rio Ferdinand, fresh from only having played twenty odd games in the last season and a bit. They were without Michael Carrick who is struggling with an ankle injury.

Rangers had Kenny Miller back in their starting eleven with Nikica Jelavic being ineligible.

Dominate

So, did we see the English side dominate the game and make the Scottish side look way out of their depth?

The answer to that question is yes and no. United did dominate the game and were the only team interested in playing football, but Rangers stuck to their task and gained a hard earned and valuable point.

Anti-football

When Rangers had a decent run in the UEFA Cup a couple of seasons ago they were accused of playing ‘anti-football’. Rangers defended their tactics by saying that they were playing teams who were better on paper and had far greater resources and therefore had to play a certain way to get results.

I can see both points of view but did anyone, other than Rangers fans, enjoy watching that game last night? I love all football but that display was embarrassingly negative and did an injustice to the game we love.

Guile

Yes, United should have had the guile and flair and ability to break them down and maybe they would have done if the likes of Vidic, Evra, Scholes and Berbatov had been selected, but to play against nine defenders and a goalkeeper is difficult and mind numbingly boring to watch.

Fair play to Rangers as they got what they tried to get and in the cold light of day, that was an exceptional point. The downside is that I hope I don’t have to watch another game like that this season.

Ideas

For United, their lack of any ideas of how to break Rangers down other than to try tee up a long shot for Darron Gibson, must be a worry. That is now two games where they have been pegged back with late goals and one in which they have been devoid of ideas.

These could be worrying times for United as Chelsea and Arsenal are looking strong in the Premier League and they will have far harder nuts to crack than Rangers in the Champions League.

Luck

As for Rangers, good luck to them. They will celebrate a famous draw earned with hard work, organisation and determination. Having said that, I hope they don’t qualify because I do not think there is any place for those tactics in the best club competition in the world.

Wishes

The worst thing about the game, of course, was the horrible injury to Antonio Valencia. The best wishes of everyone at Soccernews go to the United winger, wishing him a full and speedy recovery.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Graham Fisher


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