Rooney: SAF got his tactics wrong against Barcelona

Eire Red United

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I don’t think we should have played Hernandez in the final. Should have packed the midfield but we also had to play Fabio at left back and a return in Valencia at right back who spent the fouling Barcelona.

I still maintain that VDS was at fault for both finals though
Fabio was probably one of our better players that night along with Rooney.
 

matsdf

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I'm glad you mentioned this because there is a tendency to see Sir Alex as little more than a man motivator these days.

Over the course of his managerial career nobody was better at keeping up with the changes in football than Sir Alex. All the greats, Trapattoni, Sacchi, Cruyff, Capello, Lippi, Van Gaal etc they all managed to get to the top of the game but then be left behind as others reacted to their innovations. Sir Alex was the only one who was consistently able to shift his approach in how he managed players, tactically and personally, to stay at the top for decades.
Could this be because he wasn't really known for having a certain style of football? No tiki taka, no gegenpress, no total football. He was exceptionally good at managing players/squads and his football would follow his players, and not vice verca. Might that be a reason why he had his longevity, or am I just drawing conclusions?
 

sp_107

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Discussed many times and no need to bring it up now, seems Rooney is still bitter about how SAF handled his contracts, twice Rooney played with us and I fully support SAF both times.

SAF realised Rooney is finished and paved the way for his exit in 2013 but Moyes given him 6.5 years contract which really was not a great decision.
 

Berbasbullet

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I don’t think we should have played Hernandez in the final. Should have packed the midfield but we also had to play Fabio at left back and a return in Valencia at right back who spent the fouling Barcelona.

I still maintain that VDS was at fault for both finals though
Eh? Pretty sure Fabio played right back which he had been doing consistently, and Valencia played right mid. Evra started at left back.
 

Lay

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Eh? Pretty sure Fabio played right back which he had been doing consistently, and Valencia played right mid. Evra started at left back.
Oh yeah, my mistake. Fabio though was decent
 

Berbasbullet

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Oh yeah, my mistake. Fabio though was decent
No problem, I agree about Hernandez though, I think fergie really thought he would get the winner, but spent the entire game offside.

If we were set on attacking them then we might as well have played Scholes so we could keep the ball.
 

lex talionis

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It was said at the time that Barcelona 2011 was the greatest football side — club or national team — ever assembled. Barcelona 2009 wasn’t that far off.

They would have overcome any tactics we threw at them, but it is a shame we made it easier for them to dismember us.
 

always_hoping

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Discussed many times and no need to bring it up now, seems Rooney is still bitter about how SAF handled his contracts, twice Rooney played with us and I fully support SAF both times.

SAF realised Rooney is finished and paved the way for his exit in 2013 but Moyes given him 6.5 years contract which really was not a great decision.
I remember some journalist asking SAF about Rooney in his final game against West Brom. His answer was its up to the club to sort out this Rooney issue now.

No doubt in my mind that Rooney would be sold of SAF stayed on 1 more year. One of the many daft things Moyes did as Rooney best days was behind him by 2013.
 

Wednesday at Stoke

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That was one of the greatest club teams of all time in their pomp. You could have packed the midfield and they would eventually work you down and score. No point revisiting it with the benefit of hindsight. The whole team was chasing shadows for most of the game.
 

Jeppers7

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Well, he’s not wrong...
I doubt the tactics were that rudimentary. The idea that Rooney would have set the side up better is laughable as is his theory that LVG was the best manager he played under.
 

El Jefe

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I really wish our players and fans would end all discussions about the 2011 final. There was absolutely zero chance of winning that game no matter the tactics or strategy. We made the final which was great but beat Marseille, Chelsea and Schalke to get there but we were not a great side that year.

In 2009, Our tactics were actually ok and I recall us having a few chances in the first 10 minutes. Losing Fletcher was a massive blow and Giggs replacing him in the starting lineup really hurt us. I think Messi playing as a false 9 was something no one anticipated and they used that to destroy us in the middle of the park.

I would like to see some accountability from Rooney though. He was awful and was up against Puyol playing RB and didn't offer anything in that game. All well and good blaming SAF but a few of our players didn't turn up.
 

Foxbatt

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Rooney is correct. He got the tactics wrong both times. In 2009 we should have won. I would say we missed Quiroz as he was crucial for us winning the CL before.
I would have played Berbatov instead of Owen.
Why? Because we are never going to out play Barca. But give the ball to him and he will hold the ball till other players can get higher up.
Owen can only get you a good if you create the opportunity. Berbatov gives you a lot more.
 

SirAF

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That game was painful to watch especially towards the end.
The most painful moment as a United fan in modern times was seeing Ferguson clenching his fist in dispair towards the end. Nothing that could be done :(
 

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Fletcher was a big loss in 09.we May have stood a chance in that final if we had scored first.
In 2011 we were outplayed by a superior side and would have lost regardless.
 

Hugh Jass

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We could have won the 2009 final. I just recall giving Eto that poxy goal and it was downhill from there.

With 2011 there was no chance. It was painful to watch.
 

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We were right to attack in 2009. Remember both Alves and Abidal were suspended and with Tevez, Rooney and Ronaldo you’d fancy our chances to get goals.
 

El Jefe

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Rooney is correct. He got the tactics wrong both times. In 2009 we should have won. I would say we missed Quiroz as he was crucial for us winning the CL before.
I would have played Berbatov instead of Owen.
Why? Because we are never going to out play Barca. But give the ball to him and he will hold the ball till other players can get higher up.
Owen can only get you a good if you create the opportunity. Berbatov gives you a lot more.
Saying that doesn't make it true. We went into the game as equals but looking back at the starting lineups today its clear who the better side was. The better side wins the CL final the majority of the time.

Berbatov never did anything noteworthy for us in the CL but you think he would've made an impact against arguably the greatest club side of all time. Truth be told Berba was often useless in the big games and tha's a big part of why he was dropped.
 

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He's right but I don't think it mattered ultimately. 2009 was a different game than expected because both teams had key players missing. Barcelona had a makeshift defence and lacked the same outlets at full-back, which affected their dominance of the ball and quickness in transition in wide areas. At the same time their defence was more cautious and didn't overlap much, so they were a bit more solid without the ball than they had been against Chelsea in the semi-finals.

VDS was at fault for about 3 goals in both games. Only the Messi header and Villa goal were the ones he couldn’t save.

But the Eto’o goal at his near post, being totally out of position for Pedro’s goal and Messi’s. Hell, he was even at fault for Lampards goal in 2008.
Agree with all but the Pedro goal - as I recall he tucked it right inside the post 1v1. Hard to blame the keeper there.
 

ghagua

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Wrong tactics, too attacking? I thought our game plan was to hang on for dear life in both games. I know Barca were at the top of their game, but I have not seen a team shit themselves so badly in giving the ball away as a pub team does. The results were meh, but the performance of the team was terrible. Game 2 was slightly better until Barca decided to show up.
 

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While I like Rooney, since his baffling quotes about LVG being the best coach he ever worked with (and weirdly some even followed him and agreed, probably the usual LVG cult here) and it's obvious he still has a big grudge against Fergie because he was about to let him go.
 

NewGlory

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So now Rooney is a better tactician than SAF? He saw it and SAF was blind? Seriously, Rooney was a good player for some period, but he's is such a whiney shithead as a person.

While I like Rooney, since his baffling quotes about LVG being the best coach he ever worked with (and weirdly some even followed him and agreed, probably the usual LVG cult here) and it's obvious he still has a big grudge against Fergie because he was about to let him go.
100%
 

adexkola

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In 2009, the team just didn't show up on the night so it wouldn't have mattered what way they played.

In 2011, Barcelona were one of the best club sides ever so it wouldn't have mattered what way they played.
This.

Real tried to shit-house their way to the CL in 2011 yet they got got.

I'm not sure what is with this obsession about parking the bus and playing cynical. That side was good enough to put 1 or 2 past your bus. Then what?
 

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I remember being absolutely baffled by the lineup for the match. It was like Ferguson had got into his own head too much second guessing himself beforehand.
If anything, he should have thought about it a bit more. He basically picked the exact same team that beat Arsenal at the Emirates, with Giggs replacing the suspended Fletcher. In a way, it was a gamble: instead of reshuffling the team to deal with Fletcher's absence, he just made a single enforced change.

Then again, I'm not sure what we could have done better tactically. We started very well, could have scored early, and then conceded a stupid goal - I'm still mad at our midfielders letting Iniesta glide forward unchallenged and Eto'o embarassed both Vidic and Van der Sar. That goal changed the game and we didn't have the energy to congest the midfield and disrupt Barcelona's passing game. Scholes wouldn't have helped with that and honestly, he didn't have a great season in 08/09 anyway (age was clearly catching up with him); Fletcher and Hargreaves (lol) were unavailable. No matter what the hindsight geniuses say, Tévez was mostly awful in 08/09 and then did feck all when he replaced Anderson so I don't think starting him would have made any difference - and anyway, who should have been benched for him? Park was the better "workhorse" for this game, Rooney and Ronaldo were obviously better players, and sacrificing a midfielder would have been seen as suicidal.

Even so, we made a respectable effort to get ourselves back in contention in the game but quite simply our midfield wasn't up to the task. We were badly overmatched in the middle of the park; even with Dani Alves and Abidal suspended that Barca side was an awful match-up for us.
 

#07

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Could this be because he wasn't really known for having a certain style of football? No tiki taka, no gegenpress, no total football. He was exceptionally good at managing players/squads and his football would follow his players, and not vice verca. Might that be a reason why he had his longevity, or am I just drawing conclusions?
Sir Alex's longevity comes from the fact that he was not fanatical about a particular tactical system.

A lot of managers achieve success doing things a particular way. However, often they find they can't just keep doing the same thing and get the same results. Either they lose the players that made it work, or other coaches copy them or other coaches figure out ways to stop them. At this point coaches who are wedded to their ideas find it hard to keep winning. They believe so strongly in their 'style' that its hard for them to accept football has moved on and they must do too.

Ferguson was clever enough to read changes as they happened and open minded enough not to just stick to what worked before. When 15 years ago fans were slagging off Carlos Quieroz and demanding the return of 4-4-2, Ferguson had the vision to be able to change. That's what made him so great.

I do not agree that Fergie's football followed his players. Ferguson was ruthless at getting rid of players who no longer suited his ideal of what he wanted to achieve with the team. For example, the clear out that introduced the class of '92 wasn't just a change in personnel. It was a change in style too. There was nobody doing the Mark Hughes or Andrei Kanchelskis role at United after that point, plus the midfield configuration gradually changed as Nicky Butt was eased out by Paul Scholes. Meaning there was no Paul Ince role either. Likewise, we won the Treble playing 4-4-2 but Fergie opted to ditch it and rely on a focal point in attack, Ruud Van Nistlerooy, because he saw how European football was developing. Then when a new wind of change came in, led by Mourinho, Fergie showed Ruud the door.

Sir Alex proactively shaped his squad to achieve what he knew he needed to do to win. That was his genius. He, better than any coach in the past 30 years, could figure out what was coming next and adapt to it. IMO had we given Sir Alex the kind of funds we gave his successors, especially Van Gaal and Mourinho, he would have reshaped the squad to deal with tiki taka too. Its hard however when you're expected to replace Ronaldo with Obertan.
 
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Grande

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If we're totally, 100% honest, SAF was never a fantastic tactician was he. This is why I think it's a load of nonsense when people talk about Ole's supposed tactical weaknesses. Does it matter all that much if he doesn't sit and talk about footballers like their pieces on a chessboard?

It's not really the managers job to be sitting down and watching hundreds of hours of footage to devise a specific tactic on a game-by-game basis. Clubs have armies of analysts for that, especially in the modern era, plus I think it's fairly common knowledge Carlos Quieroz and Steve McClaren where mainly responsible for day-to-day coaching during their time at OT.

If SAF made a mistake in those two finals, it wasn't necessarily tactical ignorance, it was ego. The unwillingness to adapt in the face of a better team with incredibly talented players in every position.

I remember going to the Barcelona semi-final when we beat them 1-0 at OT (and eventually went through to the final after a 0-0 at the Camp Nou). We barely left our own penalty area in the two games! I think Scholes' 25-yard winner was the only sniff of a chance we even got! Backs-to-the-wall as it was, had we played this way in the two finals, I strongly believe we would have won one of them
I think Ferguson was a brilliant tactician in the 80’s for Aberdeen, and a very very good one also after that. He was so good that he understood the development of tactics is so rapid and reactive such that no human can be the best tactician over a prolonged period of time, and he was able to take in new tacticians and was able to work tactically with them, like Queiroz. How many of the masterminds of football history (Happel, Michels, Rehagel, Cruyff, Van Gaal, Mourinho, Guardiola etc) has been able to do that? A ‘quite good’ tactician would not be able to. It’s not something you can outsource and show trust as long as you are still the one on the sideline giving orders and deciding changes etc.

As I’ve argued before, looking at what are the best ways to play against the Guardiola game, parking the bus (like we did for much of the 08 games) is not the best option, nor is ‘outpossessing’ them or going gung ho. It is about pressing them back for parts of the game at a high energy cost, saving energy by allowing them possesion in less dangerous parts of the field for parts of the match. It is fast attacks behind the midfield lines and fast turning left/right to use the less populated spaces. And you need quality up top to be able to exploit this.

United in 2009 and even in 2011 played much more like this, which I am sure Ferguson understood better than Rooney. In 09 we had the quality, but not the luck that we had in 08. In 11 we didn’t have the quality relative to Barca, simply put.
 

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Well, it's hardly a controversial opinion, isn't it? We've started quite good in the 2009 final, but got a bit unlucky with Etoo's goal and after that Barcelona had adapted and left us no chance – if not for this goal it's possible that we would've gotten something out of this game. Although it's still unlikely, they were a better team and they had proved it in seasons to come. In 2011 we've had no chance.

We could've tried to do an Inter 2009/10, but without an insane amount of luck we wouldn't have got anything out of those games anyway. Even in 2007/08 it was hard to stop Barcelona with an ultra-defensive set up and they've got so much better once Pep came and Xavi/Iniesta & Messi had reached their respective peaks. Still, even though, we probably had a slightly better chance of beating them by parking the bus instead of going blow-by-blow in 2010/11, that chance was minimal; and in 2009/10 we've actually had a fighting chance with Fergie's tactics as well – if we were luckier in the debut, we could've won it (although I wouldn't bet on it).
 

harms

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Yeah, 2009 had a much bigger chance for sure. At the time, I thought we were the only team in Europe that could feasibly beat that Barcelona side in a big game.
That's a bit weird, since Chelsea had outplayed them in the semis and should've really gone through.
 

Grande

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Sir Alex's longevity comes from the fact that he was not fanatical about a particular tactical system.

A lot of managers achieve success doing things a particular way. However, often they find they can't just keep doing the same thing and get the same results. Either they lose the players that made it work, or other coaches copy them or other coaches figure out ways to stop them. At this point coaches who are wedded to their ideas find it hard to keep winning. They believe so strongly in their 'style' that its hard for them to accept football has moved on and they must do too.

Ferguson was clever enough to read changes as they happened and open minded enough not to just stick to what worked before. When 15 years ago fans were slagging off Carlos Quieroz and demanding the return of 4-4-2, Ferguson had the vision to be able to change. That's what made him so great.

I do not agree that Fergie's football followed his players. Ferguson was ruthless at getting rid of players who no longer suited his ideal of what he wanted to achieve with the team. For example, the clear out that introduced the class of '92 wasn't just a change in personnel. It was a change in style too. There was nobody doing the Mark Hughes or Andrei Kanchelskis role at United after that point, plus the midfield configuration gradually changed as Nicky Butt was eased out by Paul Scholes. Likewise, we won the Treble playing 4-4-2 but Fergie opted to ditch it and rely on a focal point in attack, Ruud Van Nistlerooy, because he saw how European football was developing. Then when a new wind of change, led by Mourinho, came in Fergie showed Ruud the door.

Sir Alex proactively shaped his squad to achieve what he knew he needed to do to win. That was his genius. He, better than any coach in the past 30 years, could figure out what was coming next and adapt to it. IMO had we given Sir Alex the kind of funds we gave his successors, especially Van Gaal and Mourinho, he would have reshaped the squad to deal with tiki taka too. Its hard however when you're expected to replace Ronaldo with Obertan.
well put.
 

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Remember being up in the high tier seats at Wembley 2011, not the best view, but that high up you can take in the whole pitch more easily. Barca's outfield play consisted of more or less fixed wide positions at fullback and wingers and the other six outfield players just moved as required within that framework, using the fixed position players for 'out-balls' when needed, their player movement was continual, (with or without the ball), and had been previously described like a 'carousel' and certainly they had us spinning. I honestly don't think even if Fletcher had played (supposedly to jam up the carousel) it would have made any difference, they were in their pomp.
 

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I remember saying so at the time. That it was suicidal pressing high up in the first match against Barcelona, and although it worked for the first part of the game the very first time Barcelona got past the pressing they had a counter and Eto'o scored with the Vidic deflection
 

Canagel

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Why are people saying there was no chance in 2011? They were beaten by Wenger and Arsenal and draw a lot of games. They were not unbeatable but we just like to say that to make ourselves feel better about how we got schooled.

Even Chelsea would have a put a better fight than we did. The 2011 final was a embarassment
 

marktan

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2011 we were half the team but in 2009 if we had played the same team as the last 2008 final or even had like for like replacements I believe we would've won.

Just to point out the downgrade:
- We went from Scholes, Hargreaves, Carrick in midfield to Giggs, Anderson, Carrick
- We dropped Tevez for Park
- Brown was Injured so we played Oshea

That's four players that were significantly better than their replacements in 2009 - almost half the team.
 

#07

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Why are people saying there was no chance in 2011? They were beaten by Wenger and Arsenal and draw a lot of games. They were not unbeatable but we just like to say that to make ourselves feel better about how we got schooled.

Even Chelsea would have a put a better fight than we did. The 2011 final was a embarassment
The same Chelsea we beat in that year's European Cup quarter final relatively easily? The same Chelsea we effectively knocked out of the title race after 36 seconds from the start at Old Trafford? That Chelsea..? We can't be talking about the same Chelsea.

The 2011 Barcelona team was probably the best club team I've ever seen. Of course, like all teams, they had off days. They failed to win the Copa del Rey that season, for example. However, when they were on it they were amazing. I go back to the 5-0 they put on Mourinho's Madrid. As a functioning unit, playing to a tactical idea I've never seen anything like Barcelona 2010-11. I've seen other teams with better individual talents but nobody who brought it together as cohesively as that side.

For us to have beaten them in that final so many things would've had to go our way, especially with the squad we had that season.
 

amolbhatia50k

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Both him and Rio have said the same, makes me wonder if SAFs real failure was not being able to get the players to 100% buy into the plan.

A team has to believe in the plan in order for it to be effective.
Two things here. One, Sir Alex was coming to the end of his career. He was never going to tactically as advance/revolutionary as the Guardiolas of this world who were making their mark on what would become their era. That's always how it is.

On the other hand, I also do not believe we were ever going to win either final against that Barcelona team. Their midfield was simply on a different level and they were in their prime. And they or course had Messi.
 

bsCallout

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Two things here. One, Sir Alex was coming to the end of his career. He was never going to tactically as advance/revolutionary as the Guardiolas of this world who were making their mark on what would become their era. That's always how it is.

On the other hand, I also do not believe we were ever going to win either final against that Barcelona team. Their midfield was simply on a different level and they were in their prime. And they or course had Messi.
I agree with both points. I don't think we were going to win them but that's not really the point I was making.