Former Welsh international Robbie Savage has hit out at Manuel Pellegrini for his negative tactics against Barcelona.
The former Leicester City, Blackburn Rovers and Derby County midfielder was always a bit of a wind-up merchant during his playing days. Since his retirement and new found punditry profession, his antics haven’t changed.
When analysing Manchester City’s Champions League defeat at the hands of Barcelona, Savage couldn’t help but mock City’s status as ‘the biggest club in Manchester’.
Although Manuel Pellegrini specifically mentioned that City are Manchester’s biggest club this season, Robbie Savage certainly believes they didn’t play like that.
City’s tactics were to set-out in a defensive shape, not allow Barca space behind their defence and to counter in numbers and at pace – a tactic which Savage blasted, saying:
“For the life of me, I cannot understand Pellegrini’s logic”
“To win the biggest prize in club football, surely you’ve got to be brave enough to go for it?”
Robbie Savage then went onto say that Sir Alex Ferguson or David Moyes wouldn’t have been so defensive, and that the Catalans would have had a much more difficult game at Old Trafford:
“City paid Barcelona too much respect. And you can’t tell me the Catalans would have got such an easy ride across town at Old Trafford.”
“You can’t tell me Sir Alex Ferguson, or David Moyes, would have ordered everyone in a red shirt behind the ball and sat tight for a goalless draw.”
“United remain a worldwide institution with a rich history of success and tradition, which will sustain them for a long time to come.”
“Oh, and they have won the European Cup three times.”
“And they didn’t achieve that by parking the bus.”
Whilst Manchester City were perhaps too defensive, it would have been a huge risk in taking the game to Barcelona and allowing Xavi, Iniesta and Messi the space in which to get in behind the City defence.
Manchester United contended two European Champions League finals with Barcelona in recent years – comfortably losing them both.
In those games, Sir Alex Ferguson opted for two strikers, and his midfield were completely overran in the process.
Two sides who have stifled the Catalans in recent years – Chelsea and Bayern Munich - both played in a defensive manner and countered at pace. Bayern Munich perfected it, whereas Chelsea conquered with just 10 men.
Is Robbie Savage correct? Would Manchester United have attacked more? Given their 2009 and 2011 experiences, it’s highly doubtable.
Would Manchester United have given Barcelona more of a game than rivals City?
image: © Free-ers