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In what has been a season to forget for Manchester United under David Moyes, there must have been a huge sigh of relief when the Champions League draw was made, as the Premier League champions successfully avoided all of the tough teams and ended up with arguably the weakest side left in the competition, Olympiacos.
Given the surprising results of this season, an upset was never out of the question, but United were still expected to make the most of the huge break they had caught. When they went 1-0 and then 2-0 down to the Greek side, however, there was a huge air of disbelief around the stadium. The Red Devils had sunk to a new low, delivering an extremely poor performance, failing to score a vital away goal in the process and now they head back to England with a small mountain to climb in the return leg.
Moyes chose, perhaps wisely, not to sugar-coat the truth of Manchester United's display. "That's the worst we have played in Europe," he said. "It was a really poor performance. We never really got going from the start, and we didn't deserve anything because of the way we played. We never really got to grips with things, and to a man you could hardly pick anybody out. We just didn't perform.
"We came into the game in good form and a good mindset, but it just didn't show. I am just surprised. I didn't see that level of performance coming. I just didn't see it."
Pretty much the entire team performed very badly in this game, but here are three of the players who put in the worst performances, picked according to Squawka's Performance Score rating.
1. Rio Ferdinand (-34 points)
The vastly experienced but now waning centre-back had an absolute stinker at the heart of what proved a very porous - even generous - United defence in Greece. Chris Smalling also had a night to forget at right-back. In fact, of the back four, only Nemanja Vidic can emerge with any sort of kind of credit, having put in a couple of decent saving tackles.
Ferdinand, however, won none of the three he attempted. He also failed to make a single interception. Numbers aside, he didn't look up for this match at all, failing to close down opponents as they bore down on goal and being careless in possession. As a matter of fact, he was at fault for the second goal, a fine strike by on-loan Arsenal attacker Joel Campbell.
Ferdinand failed to close down the young Costa Rican as he lined up his long-range effort, instead choosing to stand his ground and make a poor - and ultimately unsuccessful - attempt at a block.
There has been a lot of speculation regarding his future at the club, with his contract set to expire at the end of the season. Vidic is already close to announcing a free transfer to Inter. With a performance as frustratingly poor as this, one can't help but feel certain the £30 million defender will follow the Serbian through the exit door.
2. Patrice Evra (-28 points)
Speaking of the exit door, Evra is another who is very likely to pass through it this summer, with his contract expiring too. Usually very attack-minded, it didn't happen for him going forward as he failed to influence what was a wasteful and at times non-existent United attack.
His performance in defence didn't do him any favours either, as an average Olympiacos attack was allowed to cause many problems in and around the penalty area - and more problems than United's superior attack caused the home defence, which happened to be quite sturdy on the night. At least the Frenchman won three tackles, which is more than Ferdinand can say.
3. Wayne Rooney (-25 points)
Rooney must be wondering if the ink has already dried on his new mega-money contract after this game. He tried to make things happen on the ball, typically roaming the field to take up possession and look for a pass, but Olympiacos were really up for this game, and their defenders weren't in an accommodating mood.
He failed to combine effectively with Robin van Persie, who himself was quite poor on the night. He also mustered just the one shot, which didn't even make it though to goal.
Moyes dropped him alongside Michael Carrick 15 minutes after the break in order to grant Shinji Kagawa a central role behind van Persie. From there he continued to try to pull the strings, but to no avail. It wasn't his night, and the fact his team-mates simply didn't turn up for this one didn't help.
- Sports & Recreation
- Manchester United
- David Moyes
- Rio Ferdinand