|photo by beleobus||via PhotoRee|
The starting eleven named by Sir Alex yesterday didn't exactly ooze respect for the home side, especially as the visitors from England were entering a self-proclaimed Turkish "Hell" for opposing teams. The approach was unorthodox to say the least -- as if Sir Alex surmised that the Reds were actually visiting "Heck" instead -- and a direct result of the visitors having already qualified as top side in the group for the next round of the tournament.
"Phil Jones and Michael Carrick at Center Back," you ask? "Have the two ever played together?," you reasonably question. "Alexander Buttner and Nick Powell both starting?," you query. Yes, yes, and yes. We'll go out on a limb and suggest this wouldn't have happened in the Premier League, even against Southampton. Nevertheless, it's the team which the Gaffer sent out to get the job done.
So did it work?
Largely yes once again, especially for the first 45 minutes of action. Sir Alex was easily the happier of the two managers heading into the interval after a decidedly scrappy first half. The Red Devils came closest to scoring, with only the post denying Nick Powell his just reward for a fine header in a match that marked the young midfielder's Champions League debut. For their part, Galatasaray was limited to a couple of semi-decent chances spread evenly throughout the half, as the makeshift United back line did its job by and large.
The second half opened in a similar vein, but the game finally sparked to life as it neared the hour mark. Anders Lindegaard denied the home side joy with a fine reflex save, but the shutout was only momentarily maintained, as Burak Yilmaz headed home on the ensuing corner to raise the volume inside the stadium to "eleven," as they would say in Spinal Tap.
Danny Welbeck should have released Javier Hernandez for the equalizer less than five minutes later as the visitors momentarily reared to life, but, alas, the pass was behind where it needed to be and unnecessarily slowed down the careening Mexican. The ensuing action resulted in Manchester United's most sustained spell of pressure for the evening, but the extensive effort was ultimately for naught.
The late game introduction of Ashley Young, Federico Macheda and even Josh King did little to alter the dynamic, and the Reds came up on the short end of a 1-nil scoreline. It's 180 minutes and counting without a goal, and it's beginning to feel a bit like a drought at this point for a Roo-less United -- no goals, and almost the same number of real chances. It's time to get back on track this weekend....
This is Farlieonfootie for November 21.