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Published: 20 April 2000


by MUTV MasterFan Paul Hinson

How are you feeling today? Sick, gutted? heavy-hearted? Depressed? Not really feeling like work? There are millions of Reds around the work with similar symptoms after Real Madrid took away our European crown last night at Old Trafford. Let's take a look and see if we can provide a tonic....

* United did lose narrowly to, let's face it, one of the best sides in Europe at the moment. You have to admire the genius of Raul, Morientes and co. It was worse losing to Dortmund and Monaco, well-organised outfits but not with the class that Real showed going forward last night.

* We do have the small matter of a 6th Premiership title in 8 years almost within our grasp. Barring a hangover of massive proportions, the silverware could again in be in the bag by possibly, Easter Monday.

* Last season United won the lot, and it was always going to be an impossible act to follow, regardless of FA Cup entry etc. We also had small slices of good fortune to help us along our way. This season perhaps things have evened up. Casillas, the 18-year-old goalkeeper, certainly had an inspired night, and a few moments of fortune, and without him the Reds would be considering another Semi-Final.

Ok, lets see what medicine may be required now...

* United's style means that in the effort to score lots of goals, risks are taken at the back. Sir Alex doesn't need telling that Jaap Stam needs a class partner to plug the gaps. Too many goals have been shipped this season, Berg and Silvestre are not the answer, and Johnsen's fitness may always be a doubt. I prescribe a commanding, pacy Centre back, possibly from the North London area, maybe?

* The goalkeeping position requires a positive decision for next season. Is Bosnich too injury-prone to rely on? Is Taibi a liablility, or will he come good given another chance? I think if the manager is going to stand by Bozzie long-term he should say so now, and quell the speculation.

The Doc says, the problem may go away itself.

* An Away goal in European games abroad is a MUST. We had 4 very good chances in Madrid, and missed the lot. Only one slip a la Keane in the home tie and we are in the smelly stuff. Again, lots of chances created last night, but very little end-product. See also Dortmund, Monaco. More ruthless finishing needed to succeed at the highest level. Will this trigger a possible change in the four musketeers, Cole, Yorke, Solskjaer and Sheringham for next season?

The Doc says, take one striker, but not one that dissolves in hot water.

* The quick-passing game works fine in the Premiership, as possession is lost and regained frequently, but in Europe it has to be spot-on. Top Continental sides show a far better level of ball-retention, and give it away less often. Do we try to alter our style, or keep what is there to be the best in the Premiership?

The Docs says, don't mess with untried potions, stick to what works for the patient.

All in all, not a lot wrong. A good day out at the seaside, possibly Southampton at the weekend, followed by an Easter resurrection of United supremacy at Old Trafford on Monday, and things will look far better. Maybe an small infusion of new blood will be enough for 2000-01.

- 1999 MUTV MasterFan Paul Hinson

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