Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Time for Reds to Step out of the Shadows

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Time for Reds to Step out of the Shadows

Article excerpt

TWELVE months ago United were taking a breather between the matches Jose Mourinho described as the clash the world wasnted to see.

It was Real Madrid against United in the Champions League and the then-Bernabeu boss had abandoned mind games with Sir Alex Ferguson and simply promoted the last-16 set-to as the tie on which all eyes on the planet would be trained.

The Reds had drawn 1-1 in Spain and the worldwide audience was eagerly awaiting part two at Old Trafford.

So it will have been as painful for United fans to recall that second leg as much as it will have hurt them to have watched City's glamorous encounter with Barcelona. A showpiece European game in Manchester and it wasn't held at Old Trafford!

It is hard for the Red side of the city to stomach. If United overcome Olympiacos then there should well be at least one more major European night for the Stretford End to enjoy in a heavyweight quarter-final. But after that ...

Equally hard to digest as the Blues-Barca game being the must- see fixture on the calendar, is the fact it is looking grim that the Champions League anthem will be blasting out of the Old Trafford sound system next season.

After a possible lasteight match-up in the spring, it could well be another two years before Europe's elite return to M16.

Manager David Moyes is a student of the game so he will have pored over the benchmark that is Barcelona to judge just what he has to do to get United back to going toe-to-toe with that kind of quality company.

Moyes has done an excellent job in restoring Wayne Rooney to the player he once was.

To also persuade him to stay at United, which should be rubber- stamped imminently, would be another feather in his cap. Juan Mata's signing from Chelsea added to the plumage.

Now he has to ensure the new Holy Trinity of Rooney, Mata and Robin van Persie operates in a fashion that justifies that moniker. …

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