Belfast Telegraph

Manchester United win might not save David Moyes' job, but it saves season

By Steven Beacom

This was more like it from Manchester United. Finally a performance with heart, passion, fight and desire.

There was quality too. Not close to the breathtaking levels often reached under Sir Alex Ferguson, but good enough nevertheless.

Given that the current boss still has Ferguson's backing, it is debatable whether last night's 3-0 victory over Olympiakos at Old Trafford saved David Moyes' job. What's certain is that it saved United's season.

Following a hat-trick from Robin van Persie, who was carried off in the closing minutes, they are still in the Champions League, having won 3-2 on aggregate.

The other seven teams in tomorrow's quarter-final draw appear stronger, but United can worry about meeting Barcelona, Bayern, Chelsea or whoever when the time comes.

This result in a turbulent, troubled campaign is one to savour for the United fans who were rewarded for some spectacular support in the past few days.

In the embarrassing 3-0 defeat to fierce rivals Liverpool, they kept singing through the pain and last night when the Greeks came to town they stirred themselves again to create a vibrant atmosphere.

It got nervy near the end when United dropped deep allowing the visitors to press for what would have been a killer away goal, but after what they have witnessed at Old Trafford this year that anxiety was understandable.

The calmest man in the stadium was Ryan Giggs. We shouldn't be surprised... he's seen it all and done it all. Nothing fazes him on a football pitch.

Dutch striker Van Persie may have netted the treble to send United through, but it was the 40-year-old Welshman, playing in his 140th Champions League match, who was the architect for this essential and morale boosting success.

Clearly there is life in the old dog yet.

He was outstanding, creating and cajoling, keeping cool and keeping the ball in what was a high pressure situation. He set the tone and others followed... like Van Persie, showing that in big games big game players can make a difference when they are up for the challenge.

RVP has not combined enough with Wayne Rooney this season.

They weren't exactly Cole and Yorke last night, but the first time one passed to the other it led to United's crucial second goal just before the break, the move started by a pinpoint Giggs pass on a evening littered with them. See what you can do lads when you work together?

While Giggs excelled, the much maligned Danny Welbeck and Phil Jones also produced superb performances and critically, the impressive David De Gea made a stunning double save when United only led by Van Persie's early penalty.

Credit too for the beleaguered and under-fire boss, first and foremost for having the bottle to select veteran Giggs, and secondly for the formation of his side which provided United with attacking intent.

Unlike on Sunday and on other occasions since taking over, Moyes was not found wanting this time.

More of this and he'll be around as United boss for a while yet.

Belfast Telegraph


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