Dozy Man United manage only 22 seconds in dreamland
David Moyes sees his team throw away their chance of European glory - when will they get another chance?
Bayern Munich 3 Manchester United 1 – [Bayern win 4-2 on aggregate]. For precisely 22 seconds Man United fans dared to dream that their boys could beat Bayern and join Chelsea in the last four of the Champions League.
Patrice Evra's stunning strike on 57 minutes put United ahead over the two legs but their lead lasted less than half a minute. United's travelling fans were still celebrating the goal when the Germans levelled through Mario Mandzukic, who nipped in ahead of Evra to head past David De Gea.
Ten minutes later Thomas Muller made it 2-1 to the reigning champions with a close-range effort and Arjen Robben's solo strike 14 minutes from time confirmed United's worst fears – they were out of Europe's showpiece competition and who knows when they will be back.
Moyes was unable to hide his frustration during the post-match press conference, criticising his players for their lack of concentration having just stunned the Allianz Arena into silence. "It's the sort of thing you learn as a schoolboy. Once you score a goal, make sure you don't concede," said Moyes. "You get into position and do your job. We had concentrated so fabulously well throughout the game, for us just to give it up on that moment was really disappointing."
It wasn't the only disappointment of the night as far as Moyes was concerned. Wayne Rooney had a wonderful chance to restore United's lead shortly after Mandzukic's equalizer, but the England striker – who had an injection in his damaged toe before kick-off so he could play – fluffed his lines. "I am disappointed we didn't take those chances," admitted Moyes. "We had to play the holders of the competition and for long periods we made it difficult for them. We just couldn't quite keep it going."
United lie seventh in the Premier League table, seven points behind fourth place Arsenal with five matches remaining. So while it is mathematically possible for Moyes' team to qualify for next season's tournament it would require Arsenal, Everton and Tottenham to all fall apart in the next month – while United put in one flawless performance after another. It is an unlikely scenario and Moyes has clearly resigned himself to his fate.
"We've not got Champions League football but I believe it's not far away and hopefully it's only one year," he said. "We've got to rebuild and our focus now is getting a team together to get back in this competition because it's a really good competition and we've really enjoyed it."
Assuming there is no miracle between now and the middle of May, United will fail to qualify for the Champions League for the first time in 19 years. "The reason we are not going to be in it next season isn't so much because of tonight, it's the league form," admitted midfielder Michael Carrick. "It's obviously not good enough."
The question yet to be answered by the United board is whether they still think Moyes is good enough to be the club's manager. Although some of United's supporters want him sacked, the Manchester Evening News believes Moyes should be given "the opportunity to build United in his own image, rather than the one he inherited from Sir Alex Ferguson". But to do that, the paper warns, will require "a summer of unprecedented spending". ·