Thursday, 27 August 2015

Man United back where they belong.

The 2015/16 UEFA Champions League draw.

At last Manchester United were back where they belong in the draw for the group stages of the UEFA Champions League after an absence that in reality was only one season but which seemed like an eternity.

As soon as United Captain Rooney scored his first of three goals last night in Belgium everyone's thoughts were turning to the group stage draw and choosing who they would prefer to play and probably more importantly the sides they didn't want to come up against until the knockout stages.

Since United last played in the competition many changes have taken place at the club from management, Moyes was replaced by Giggs who in turn made way for Louis van Gaal, to the players, with Carrick, Rooney and Smalling being the only players that started in last night's qualifier against Club Brugge who were also in the starting XI in the second leg defeat by Bayern Munich at the quarter-final stage in 2013/14. Interestingly Hernandez was also on the bench that night in Germany.

However, there has remained one constant, a status quo that can never be altered and that is the fans, fans that had to endure ridicule from rivals, which hurt, but never knocked them down as the faithful knew that it was only a matter of time before United took their place at the table reserved for Europe's elite.

The excitement of the draw had returned along with the dread of whose name would be picked alongside United. People always say that there is no easy draw which could be correct, but this year there were some really difficult but tasty possibilities. For example, United could have shared a group with one of these giants Barcelona, Bayern Munich, PSG or Juventus.

In the end they managed to avoid the so-called big teams and were pitted against PSV Eindhoven, CSKA Moscow and Wolfsburg. No disrespect to our opponents, but even United legend Peter Schmeichel, who was hosting the draw, found it difficult to hide his pleasure of the outcome.

Once the draw had been made and the dust had settled it turned out to be quite favourable for the Red Devils and the fans alike who would travel to places such as Moscow, the city of United's 2008 final victory over Chelsea, Eindhoven, a return home for our newest star Memphis, and Schweinsteiger's home country Germany to play Wolfsburg.

The hardest tie will probably be against German outfit Wolfsburg but the long trip to the Russian capital is always a draining one and PSV are well known to United's Dutch backroom staff and Memphis will have some pointers.

United will open the group away at PSV 15 Sept then Wolfsburg (h) 30 Sept, Moscow (a) 21 Oct, Moscow (h) 3 Nov, PSV (h) 25 Nov and lastly Wolfsburg (a) 8 Dec.

As Sir Alex Ferguson always said the target is to get to ten points and as long as United win their home games, then I can foresee no problem in them progressing to the knockout stages and if they can add a striker to strengthen the forward line then who knows how far we can go.

One thing is for sure it is great to be back involved with the pinnacle of club football.

Thanks for reading and enjoy the European adventure.

Miles Dunton.