|photo by My Alternative Photos||via PhotoRee|
Tuesday night was a fitting tribute to a legendary servant of the club. Huffing and puffing his way up and down the pitch, Gary Neville -- RedNev, to his legion of fans -- said goodbye to the 42,000 faithful at Old Trafford in an exhibition game played at a leisurely pace against Juventus of Italy. Fittingly, the former England right back was joined on the night by several other "kids" who created Fergie's Golden Generation of players: Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes, who seem to be getting younger with each passing year, and David Beckham and Nicky Butt from Manchester United days gone by.
United "lost" the game 2-1, but the final scoreline mattered less than the heart and spirit shown by both sides on the pitch. Herewith, some further thoughts while watching the game, along with some implications for Saturday's Champions League final:
- What in the world are Wayne Rooney and Ryan Giggs doing on the pitch five days before the European championship?? I'm sure the Neville Testimonial was scheduled weeks ago, but did the Reds' front office have such little faith in the club's chances of making the final that they scheduled this game for the same week? I can't imagine an NFL team preparing for the Super Bowl by giving a exhibition runout to two starters and some important bench players (Scholes, and possibly O'Shea, Anderson and Rafael) the week of the final.
- That being said, and maybe I'm reading too much into the tea laves of tonight's game, but Sir Alex's selections for the exhibition make me think he's going with the following lineup against Barca:
Fabio Rio Vidic Evra
Valencia Carrick Giggs Park
- And if that's the case, here's who I think ends up on the bench: PIG, Smalling, Scholes, Anderson, Nani, Fletcher & Berbatov
- The first half of Tuesday night's game reminded me of the good-times atmosphere associated with a Harlem Globetrotters game, with Juve playing the part of the Washington Generals. About all that was missing was a player throwing a fake bucket of water into the stands.....
- The second half of the game reminded me of a "Legends" team of older players competing against a squad of today's players, as GNev and Nicky Butt looked well off the pace.
- Only Becks looked as if he still has it, whipping in accurate crosses with real venom. Man, do we miss him on corner kicks, moreso than ever this season......
- Paul Scholes can't even make a clean tackle in a friendly.
- Tonight also marked the return of Bebe to the "first" team, although I had to laugh at his first shot, just after the half hour mark. I think the ball is still orbiting.
- Speaking of Bebe, I can guarantee you this game will be the only time in your life you'll manage to see Wayne Rooney, Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes simultaneously replaced by Darren Gibson, Gabriel Obertan and Bebe. Make note.
- Anyone notice there were two number 7's on the pitch Tuesday night? I'm guessing the fact that Michael Owen played as much as he did in the game tonight means he's not going to be on the bench for Saturday.
- And in closing, how'd you like to have been Scott Wootton tonight? His job was only to replace RedNev himself. Talk about big shoes to fill.......
This is farlieonfootie paying tribute to a true United legend on May 25.
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