By Rasheed Abu Bakar
In Wednesday night’s tepid and lackluster performance against Galatasaray, Manchester United’s nervy start to the Champions League proves little has changed since their disappointing performances last season.
Having scored so early in the game, I thought United would have gone on to win by two or three goals – we were due a good performance in Europe anyway - but unfortunately, only a handful of players looked the part last night.
While Shinji Kagawa dazzled Old Trafford with his deft touches and great awareness, as exemplified in the assist for Michael Carrick’s goal, Robin van Persie clearly had an off-day.
He thrilled us with his spectacular hat-trick at Southampton, but it will take more than that to write yourself into United’s folklore. With only three shots on target, the Dutchman seemed lost throughout the game and never really troubled the opposition.
I know the jury is still out on Nani, but I thought he put in a good shift.
Apart from the bizarre penalty attempt, the Portuguese winger did well in the second half. His speed down the left troubled ex-Arsenal defender Emmanuel Eboue but most importantly, he looked eager to receive the ball. Often accused of dilly-dallying and slowing down play, he does possess a big bag of tricks which can come in handy against technical and disciplined opposition.
David De Gea gave further cause to be United’s number one with a string of great saves.
The willowy-looking Spaniard parried Burak Yilmaz’s effort before recovering well to tip Emre Colak’s follow-up out for a corner, as he demonstrated his shot-stopping prowess. He seems to be improving every game, although he is prone to the occasional blunder.
I’m not too sure about Ferguson’s reported decision to keep rotating his goalkeepers; a solid backline needs to be playing together week in week out, so that they can form an understanding.
I wonder if we actually do need Wayne Rooney back as soon as possible.
A nasty-looking injury suffered against Fulham demonstrated the boy’s desire and commitment to the game. The way he lunged to block Hugo Rodallega’s shot would have made the best of defenders proud and we know that even on his off-days, the so-called overweight striker with a new head of hair is still capable of being a game-changer.
There is clearly still a lot to be done if United want to avoid a repeat of last season’s early exit from the competition.
The other two teams in Group H, Portuguese club SC Braga and Romanian outfit CFR 1907 Cluj, look to be easy meat on paper but with United’s recent form in Europe, Ferguson will need a fit Rooney back and hope that he can strike up a deadly partnership with Van Persie upfront.
It is time the pigs stop huffing and puffing, and start to blow the house down.