It hasn’t been an easy start for David Moyes but then it was never going to be. Alex Fergsuon left him a squad in dire need of rebuilding and without that old Fergie magic Manchester United were always likely to struggle this season.
Few would have expected the defending Premier League champions to fall so low so fast but, despite being out of the running on every domestic front, this season can be more than salvaged with Champions League success. It’s a tough ask for United to get past Bayern Munich on Wednesday night in Germany, but it’s not an impossible one and here are six reasons why.
1. It’s only 1-1
Having already held the Germans 1-1 at Old Trafford, an 8/1 shot few people fancied would happen, it’s 9/1 that they repeat the result in the Allianz Arena. That’s all they need. Well that, some chew-proof fingernails and a little luck in a penalty shoot-out. Germans are traditionally bad at them, right?
2. United’s Away Form
United have a better away record in the Premier League this season. Perhaps the intensified pressure of playing Old Trafford has impacted on David Moyes and his players this season. They’ve won three more games and scored 12 more goals on their league travels this season. They also have that 5-0 win over Bayer Leverkusen in Germany during the group stages of this year’s competition. Same country, similar sounding first half of their names so similar result? Probably not but it’s still a reason for hope.
3. Bayern Munich are on their worst run of results in three years
That’s right, after two draws and a defeat this is the first time the German champions have gone three games without a win in a season since losing three on the bounce in February 2011. They’re on the slide or, more likely, having wrapped up the Bundesliga title in record-breaking time they’ve taken their collective eye off the ball. If they’re still stuck in party mode they could stumble.
4. Bayern failed to beat Arsenal or Man City at home
A weakened Manchester City won 3-2 there in this year’s group stages. Seeing as every Arsenal team this season is technically weak we’ll just say they did very well to draw 1-1 there. There were extenuating circumstances in both cases but the stat remains. Two home games against Premier League teams this season without a victory.
5. Wayne Rooney is back/maybe
Joey Barton (read his PP columns here) may be correct in down-grading Rooney’s reputation from footballing God to just a regular top notch footballer. But there’s no question that when he’s on form he can put in world class performances. He is leading the current Champions League with eight assists. Presuming he’s fit for action, if Wednesday is one of those games he could be the difference maker.
Granted it was a far more talented Manchester United side than the one which travels to Germany for Wednesday’s second-leg but it is an example of the unpredictability of European football. United scored two goals in injury-time to beat the Germans in the Camp Nou in 1999 and are likely to need similar heroics in this game. Remember, when Djimi Traore owns a Champions League winners medal all things are possible.