GROUP A: TRICKY GROUP FOR MOYES' DEVILS
Moyes must have count himself unlucky given a rather tricky group to play in the Champions League. Well, the last time Manchester United played in the European Cup without Sir Alex Ferguson as manager was in April 1969, when The Beatles topped the UK chart with "Get Back" and the Billboard charts were headed by The Fifth Dimension's "Age of Aquarius."
David Moyes' arrival brings a new dimension to Champions League perennials who have been ever-present in the modern competition since the 1996-97 season. Ryan Giggs, of course, remains from that campaign, in which United eventually reached the semifinals. (at times, I wonder if he will ever retire from football)
|Previous game line-up against Crystal Palace|
Moyes has not been handed the easiest of groups. Bayer Leverkusen established themselves as the third force in a strong Bundesliga. Shakhtar Donetsk have shed some leading players from last season but possess plenty of experience. Real Sociedad are a surprise package, and will represent a difficult away trip to San Sebastian.
The Champions League newcomer has said he will be leaning heavily on the likes of Giggs for their experience, and his squad includes nine players with winners' medals from the 2007-08 season. His team will play like "Fergie's boys," as the terrace anthem implores, but show disconcerting signs of a lack of creativity in midfield. Abject failures in the summer transfer market failed to address that problem, and Marouane Fellaini, a destroyer by trade, is the only addition in the engine room. Wilfried Zaha, signed in January, is the only other new face, an inexperienced player competing for a place alongside a phalanx of underperforming wingers.
Such was Ferguson's comfort in the group stages that he often used it as a finishing school for younger players and new arrivals. Moyes has been allowed no such luxury. A season of firsts for United continues in the competition that provided both the highest highs and worst lows of the Ferguson era.
The player that Moyes can count on though will still be Van Persie....he was probably the happiest man when United won the title last season, proving his decision to be a correct one. Surely, there is some regrets that he could not be playing under Sir Alex Ferguson for another season or two....Moyes task in this competition is to ensure that there will be sufficient of supplies to the Dutchman, who is quite capable of scoring goals given the opportunity...well, one thing that United need to bear in mind though....Champions League has not always been Van Persie's happiest hunting ground.