Tactical lessons for everyone from Manchester United's Champions League defeat

By Neil Macdonald on May 28, 09 08:12 PM in Fans

WHEN we won the Champions League in such remarkable circumstances in 2005, it is well known that Fergus the bogeyman wrote to Rafa to give him a tactical breakdown on the game, as well as offer congratulations.

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Judging by last night's game, it is the Scotsman who needs a lesson in tactics, having sent out a team so ill equipped for the job in hand that the result was almost a foregone conclusion.

But while I - like most Liverpool fans - enjoyed seeing United being made to look like a bunch of hapless amateurs, that particular treat comes with a price.

Because if United weren't sure to strengthen in the summer, the 2-0 defeat provided the red-nosed one with a crystal clear picture of his team's weaknesses.

And that means that Rafa and the Yanks must work harder to be perfect in the summer, to keep closing the gap on the Mancs and - even - work out a way to get past them.

But first - and this is for all Liverpool fans who shouted 'f*****g get in!' when Eto'o scored - the weaknesses.

Jebus - where to begin?

For starters - the 'rock solid' defence. This game - and Eto's goal in particular - only confirmed to me what I have thought for a while. That Vidic is out of his depth against the top strikers, and has moments of madness because of it.

Just as Nando did at Old Trafford, Eto'o embarrassed him and from then on, he seemed at full stretch all the time.

On top of that, while John O'Shea would do a job, he should not be anyone's first choice right back.

Moving to midfield, I have never seen one player age in a game as much as Ryan Giggs did. He is undoubtedly one of the greats of any age, but last night he looked old as the match passed him by.

They also had very little bite, and when the answer to that is Darren Fletcher ....

Finally up front, the much vaunted fab four had little impact - Rooney isolated, Berbatov disinterested, Tevez ineffective.

And Ronaldo - well as far as he was concerned, there may as well have been no other players on the pitch - it was all about him and the petulant strops my eight-year-old has grown out of. Calling someone a big girl's blouse may be out of step with our modern times, but I don't care.

So what though? The weaker they are, the better right? To a point.

Because while every other Premiership manager will have seen those flaws and will already be working out ways to exploit them - Man Ure will be doing just the opposite, and they have a much bigger pot of cash to dip into.

That means Liverpool cannot afford more signings like Dossena or Degan or Keane. Expensive or even cheap failures, for whatever reason, are off the menu.

Proven talent at the highest level is a must, because I want to watch arrogant, graceless and smug United having their noses rubbed in the dirt again - by us, next season and for seasons to come.

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