Friday 19 January 2018

Carrick 'shocked' by United's collapse to Basle

Ally McKay

TWO draws from their first two Champions League games is not the sort of return Manchester United would have expected when they were handed a relatively straightforward group in this year's competition.

A battling point at Benfica two weeks ago was followed on Tuesday night by a 3-3 draw at home to Basel in which Alex Ferguson's side threw away a two-goal lead and very nearly succumbed to a 3-2 defeat until Ashley Young's last-minute leveller.

They are still clear favourites to qualify from Group C and that scenario would only change were the unthinkable to happen in their next two fixtures, home and away to Champions League debutants Otelul Galati of Romania.

Nevertheless, midfielder Michael Carrick admitted that the situation was far from perfect and the nature of Tuesday's performance at Old Trafford was uncharacteristic of United.

"It was a bit of a shock to find ourselves 3-2 down after being 2-0 up," he said. "We've no excuses, we threw it away. It's not like us at all.

"(The situation in Group C) is not the end of the world, but it's not ideal either. We've given ourselves a lot of hard work, but we're capable of doing it."

Carrick's optimism was matched by Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini, who maintained his club can still reach the knockout stages of the competition despite picking up just one point from their first two games.

The 2-0 defeat to Bayern Munich has left City in an uncomfortable position. With Bayern on a maximum six points and Napoli moving to four thanks to their win over Villarreal, who visit the Etihad Stadium for the next group game on October 18, Mancini's men suddenly have work in front of them.

However, Mancini is confident his side will collect their first three points. And he is also convinced they will eventually make their way into the last 16.

Mancini also hinted at a tactical rethink before then though. Having shed the cautious approach that characterised his early months in charge of the Eastlands side, Mancini felt his team were too open in the Allianz Arena.

"It is a lesson for me. We played more offensive. Maybe if we defend more it is better,' he said.

"We need 10 points to reach the second stage. When I was at Inter we lost the first two games. But we still did it. We are in the same situation again."

Irish Independent

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