Manchester United have themselves to blame as much as the referee

Manchester United crashed out of the Champions League last night, with referee Cuneyt Cakir the centre of controversy.

Nani's red card was the big talking point of the Manchester United v Real Madrid clash at Old Trafford, with the visitors leaving 3-2 aggregate victors.

But while the outrage simmers and the card itself is debated, United should reflect that they themelves, ultimately are to blame for Madrid beating them.

It was almost as if United were not prepared for anything to go against them on their big night, and when it did, they lost concentration.

Manager, players, and the crowd, were all incensed by the decision to send off Nani, and lost their focus and shape.

This allowed Real Madrid to take control of the game and kill United off, but it was almost too easy once the Red Devils were reduced to 10 men.

Mourinho was quick to take action, while Sir Alex Ferguson fumed.

After Nani's sending off, Mourinho made the switch. Three minutes after the incident, Luka Modric was brought on for the man Nani fouled, ex-Liverpool defender Alvaro Arbeloa.

10 minutes later Madrid were 2-1 up and United were well and truly stunned.

Sir Alex Ferguson waited 15 minutes after the red card to bring on Wayne Rooney but it was too late, Madrid had pounced.

United's manager, legend of the game he is, was so outraged that he allowed himself to be out-thought and out-manouvred, while United's players were so angered themselves they allowed themselves to be outplayed.

It didn't need to be like that. They needed to compose themselves. When John Terry got sent off in the Nou Camp for Barcelona last season, Chelsea didn't wilt. They fought back from the decision and did enough to qualify.

Even then there were chances for United to get themselves back into the game. Wayne Rooney missed a clear cut volley from point blank range while Diego Lopez' superb save from Nemanja Vidic's header was just one of a string of stops made by Iker Casillas' stand-in.

United also missed a raft of opportunities in the first half, with Danny Welbeck most culpable, while Robin van Persie's first leg miss at the Bernabeu has come back to haunt his club.

It should not be forgotten either, despite Jose Mourinho's comments that the best team lost, that Real Madrid were excellent in the final half an hour of last night's game.

Pointing fingers at the referee is fine, but it wasn't Cakir who missed the chances or took too long to adapt after the red card. For those, United must look in the mirror.

image: © marcel sigg

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