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Manchester United are not CL-winning material yet

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A familiar script for both Manchester United and Celtic.

Manchester United – away from home in the Champions League, for the first time in many years, played their natural game but lacked the flair and confidence that you normally associate with them. Poor first-touches, no final balls, sloppy finishing.

But for the players, this was Liverpool in the Premier League form table, not Manchester United.

Celtic on the other hand have beaten a few top teams in the past at Parkhead and it was another case of that here, with two moments of brilliance – the Nakamura free-kick (video below) and Boruc save defining their match. Yes, they were outplayed, they were definitely outgunned, but Celtic took their chances, and Manchester United didn’t, so no sour grapes.

I’ve heard people blame Jiri Jarosik’s dive for the first goal, but it takes more than a dive to score such an inch-perfect free kick. Scholes dived too (from what I’ve heard, I didn’t catch that bit), the resultant free-kick led to a blatant handball and Boruc guessed right and good for him and Celtic. Manchester United did not ‘deserve’ to win, no matter what you think. We were wasteful, and on this form won’t be winning the Champions League.

Did we miss Ruud? I think so. I remember an old article where I said that Manchester United were two steps away from being totally fucked – the two steps being a lack of signings and injuries.

We’re feeling the strain now – the depth in the squad is nothing to be proud about, we don’t have a striker who can come off the bench and save the game, we don’t have a creative player on the bench either (Evra? Park?) nor do we have a hardman in midfield to push people around (O’Shea?).

January will be interesting. And crucial.

But the Premiership, and the Champions League, could be lost by then. Manchester United play Chelsea on Saturday, and on current evidence, if Chelsea overtake us we’ll have little left in the tank to catch up.

We needed 1 point from the last 3 group games, we’ve lost two of them.

What have Barcelona and Chelsea (ergo, champions) taught us? That you don’t miss the chance to score, and you don’t go into a season unprepared.

I’m predicting Barcelona to go through to the second round, regardless of wha happens in Bremen today with Chelsea. Manchester United? We’ll still get through, but 2nd place means a potential clash with Chelsea or Lyon, the two clear favourites this season.

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Ahmed Bilal created Sportslens in 2006. He is a business consultant and entrepreneur who helps businesses identify and overcome their biggest challenges. He’s also the founder of Football Media, an online advertising agency that specialises in sports and male audience targeting, with a monthly reach of 100m+ sports fans in the UK and US. He’s also the previous owner of Soccerlens.com – a sports news site that reaches 3m+ readers / month.