Man Utd Olympiakos horror show - Keane lets rip at players
Stunned David Moyes takes blame, but pundit Keane lays into United stars and Premier League
Olympiakos 2 Manchester United 0. Three Champions League last 16 ties involving English clubs in the last week and three 2-0 defeats. In Athens on Tuesday night Manchester United's European aspirations went the same was as those of Manchester City and Arsenal who last week were given a footballing lesson by Barcelona and Bayern Munich.
On a night when there were few positives for United to take from their sorry display against Olympiakos, the one glimmer of hope for the English champions is that they are at home in next month's second leg. But will that save them from an ignominious exit at the hands of one of the tournament's weaker teams?
Not according to former United star Roy Keane, who used his position as ITV pundit to lay into English football: "We've been brainwashed that the Premier League is the best in the world – nonsense," blasted the Irishman. "It's the best brand in the world but they have fallen behind, United more than most. They need six or seven players to rebuild the club."
Keane said Moyes would have been "shocked" by his side's spineless display and the United manager did indeed looked dazed when he faced reporters in the post-match press conference. "That's the worst we've played in Europe, we didn't deserve to get anything," admitted the Scot. "I'm surprised, I didn't see that level of performance coming. I take responsibility, we have to play better."
Moyes tried to defend his players, saying they were "hurting" but in truth none of the United squad looked ready to bleed for the cause. Where once they had warriors such as Denis Irwin, Gary Neville, Paul Scholes and Keane, now they have Ashley Young, Tom Cleverley and Chris Smalling. And of course Wayne Rooney, who last week signed a new deal with United that will see him earn £300,000-a-week. Frankly on the basis of last night's performance that amount should be more than enough to cover the entire United squad.
"We didn't offer enough on the night to create a goal," said Moyes. "There is undoubtedly talent at Manchester United but we didn't show it tonight."
Robin van Persie certainly didn't, the Dutchman completing only 12 of the 21 passes he attempted during the 90 minutes. True, he was responsible for United's best chance but he managed to hoof that over the bar with the goal at his mercy.
Olympiakos, on the other hand, took their chances with Alejandro Dominguez giving the Greeks the lead on 38 minutes when his deft flick diverted Giannis Maniatis's low shot past David De Gea. Nine minutes into the second half Joel Campbell stepped inside the United defence before curling the ball into the visitors net for a goal that sent Olympiakos wild. If that strike wasn't bad enough for United, the fact it was scored by Campbell, on loan from Arsenal, only rubbed salt into their very deep wound.
So can United turn it around at Old Trafford on March 19? History suggests it will be a tall order for Moyes and his men. The last time United clawed back a two-goal deficit in Europe was when they beat Barcelona 3-0 at Old Trafford in the Cup Winners' Cup quarter-final – exactly 30 years ago.
Moyes, as is becoming his custom, promised a reaction from United in the wake of the latest humiliation. "We are determined to put it right and we have the opportunity to do that," he said, looking forward to the second leg. "Old Trafford's seen some great nights in the past and we hope to see another one." ·