Moyes restores pride to wounded Old Trafford in Bayern draw

David Moyes MUFC

The Manchester United manager got his tactics spot on to stifle the European champions and give his side a fighting chance for the return leg.

 

David Moyes managed to lift the Old Trafford crowd. A crowd that have had to endure a succession of heart-wrenching scorelines at what used to be their home fortress.

The United empire may have crumbled seemingly beyond repair in 3-0 defeats to fiercest rivals Liverpool and Manchester City recently, but managing to withhold such a potent Bayern Munich side in the 1-1 Champions League quarter-final stalemate yesterday evening should fill United supporters with hope of better things to come.

This set of supporters, of course, should not feel any sense of entitlement after the years of success they have had handed to them by Sir Alex Ferguson's masterful reign at the top of the English game, but quite rightly, they have been left feeling underwhelmed by some atrocious displays which have left United watching the likes of Liverpool and City contest the title while they sit seventh, without a whimper. 

Moyes had clearly challenged his charges to live up to his side's billing as a European heavyweight, to at least let the candle continue to burn bright in their European quest, if not their domestic one.

His team-talk ought to have been as simple as they come. All that was needed was a glance towards the incredible achievements of the 1999 treble - capped by a last-gasp victory over Bayern at the Nou Camp - when addressing his beleaguered players.

Many of United's high-profile and most experienced individuals have clearly not bought into Moyes' ideas or methods and were rumoured to have rebelled against his reign but last night they came together as one to show the spirit of past glories in this competition was there for all to see.

Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic were both imperious at the back, repelling just about every forward venture Bayern mustered until Bastian Schweinsteiger broke off their defensive shackles to score what could prove a priceless away goal.

By that point, Vidic had already shown his worth at the other end. Towering above the crowd, his header was firm but so delicately positioned inside Manuel Neuer's left-hand post. 

Many questioned Moyes' decision to allow Vidic to retain the captaincy for the rest of the season, with the Serb's move to Inter Milan already confirmed ahead of what will be a revolutionary summer at Old Trafford.

But Vidic showed his leadership qualities in abundance against Bayern, ones that had seemingly gone missing when he was humiliated by Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge's blistering pace in the reverse to Brendan Rodgers' Reds and his goal epitomised so much of what the 32-year-old has offered during his stay as he tore United's backs from the wall and gave them something to grasp and hold onto.

Schweinsteiger's goal threatened to turn the tie in Bayern's favour and, while they are undoubted favourites ahead of the second leg, his sending off late on - coupled with Javi Martinez's booking just prior which also rules him out - just creaked open the door to United once again.

It gave them a sniff but there were some standout performances all evening from United players who wanted more than just that.

Phil Jones and Alexander Büttner, much chastised throughout this season, put in steady if occasionally nervy performances, while Michael Carrick was a rock at the heart of midfield.

He was hardly helped by the cumbersome presence of Marouane Fellaini and the lagging Ryan Giggs, but Carrick stuck to his guns in thwarting Bayern's carousel of ball carriers.

Danny Welbeck, too, looked inspired by a rare start as he ran Bayern defenders into channels, chased down lost causes and even tested Manuel Neuer on occasion, although his attempt at an impudent chip will still be haunting him even now.

United were akin to a tin of Ronseal, in that this was a team performance; an amalgamation in their attempts to give their fans something to cheer last night. Bayern, admittedly, looked to be playing with the handbrake on ever so slightly throughout the course of the contest, but it should take nothing away from United.

For all the rebuking of Moyes this season, it seems only fair to hand him credit for navigating through the first phase of what seemed the most daunting of prospects when the draw for the final eight was completed.

Moyes may not have lifted the monkey from his back just yet, but irrespective of the goings-on in Munich in a weeks' time, there can be no doubt the mood around Old Trafford has lifted considerably as the manager's united front helped frustrate the holders.

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