Manchester United defeated German club Schalke 4-1 at Old Trafford Wednesday night to book a spot in the UEFA Champions League final at the New Wembley Stadium in London. The dream final between two of Europe's biggest clubs will be a rematch of the 2009 final that saw Barcelona defeat United 2-0.
Sir Alex Ferguson has already states that this years Manchester United team lacks the glamour that the Cristiano Ronaldo-led United teams had just a few ago. Despite many people claiming United were not strong enough to compete for both the Champions League and the English Premier League title, United now find themselves in the Champions League final, and three points atop the Premier League. While this has been shocking to many fans throughout Europe, no one is more shocked then Manchester United fans themselves.
It has been a difficult season for United fans to follow their team this season. While they have looked like their typical dominating selves at home, the Red Devils have been abysmal this season away from Old Trafford. Everytime United look like they are hitting their best form, they drop more points to a low level club on the road.
Furthermore, United fans had to deal with the Wayne Rooney contract and transfer saga at the start of the season, and then watch as the striker was in the worst form of his career for the first four months. However what has shocked United fans the most about this season, has been that they have made it this far with the players that they have.
After every match that features more dropped points against weaker opponents, fans are always talking about what new players this team needs to sign in the transfer window. The common suggestions are a new winger, a defender to replace Jonny Evans, and of course, a creative central midfielder, maybe even several central midfielders.
At the start of every match, it is almost impossible for someone to not have an issue with at least one player in the starting XI. Many fans are fed up with defender Jonny Evans, who had been awful this season and is signle handedly responsible for about six of the points United have already dropped. The inclusion of wingers Gabriel Obertan or Bebe will usually make a United fan cringe and immediately pray that someone could bail them out of the disaster that is about to happen.
But even for some of the better players, many United fans have ran out of patience. We have been waiting for Darron Gibson to develop into a solid midfielder for years now. However, it is now starting to look like Gibson's only good trait is his great shot, which hasn't even been that good this season.
While many fans have high hopes for Anderson, many fans are already sick of the midfielder. While he did score two goals against Schalke, his grand total is a mere four goals in 128 United matches; not such a great return for a player who cost the club £18 million.
Anderson seems to have something against letting the ball come off pitch, making sure all his passes never come off the ground. This usually leads to many passes either going too far, or being intercepted, and lets not even talk about his shooting ability. Anderson is also a huge supporter of the short corner, and usually forces United to take one, despite the fact that it has not worked once.
Despite moments of greatness, Anderson has been frustrating to watch in his four years at Old Trafford
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While every so often Anderson produces yet another gem that show his potential, it is almost safe to say that after four years he will never be able to do that consistently. Unfortunately, it is unlikely Fergie will admit to Anderson being a bust and will continue to give him his chances.
As frustrating as he may be to watch sometimes, this season United fans have seen the development of Nani take a massive step forward. Unfortunately, there is one person in the way of that development, Antonio Valencia. The right winger continues to exile Nani to the left side, where his talents are significantly wasted. Over the last two seasons United have played far better football with Nani on the right and either Ryan Giggs or Ji-Sung Park on the left.
Furthermore, after a solid first season with United, Valencia has struggled to maintain that form in his second season. Worst of all, to the ire of most fans, Valencia is also putting on a fine display of showing exactly how right footed he is. Valencia refuses to even take a touch of the ball with his left foot, severely restricting what he can do with the ball.
Despite United fans always finding at least one player on the field to be frustrated with, they have nevertheless made it this far. This season they have proved you don't need to be the prettiest to win, you just need to do just enough, and United are doing just enough to win just about every game they play.
The irony is they will now face Barcelona in the final, the team who has been by far the prettiest team in Europe this season. There is no doubt that Barca are the better team, but that doesn't mean United can't be the ones holding the trophy at Wembley.