How do you play football against Barcelona?
Wow, what a display we had in the final of the Champions League at the weekend. Manchester United looked over-awed and ordinary.
Barcelona had 68 per cent possession and Xavi completed 141 out of 146 passes – astonishing.
They play the beautiful game more beautifully than any other team in history, no question.
I think they would beat any other famous team in history, even the AC Milan team of the 1980s.
It’s only Jose Mourinho who’s had limited success against them. In the 2009 final, his Inter Milan side played ‘negative’ football. Defending and hitting them on the break.
So, was Sir Alex Ferguson’s biggest mistake his tactic to try and take the game to Barca?
This gave them the space they needed to outplay United with their midfielders and defenders chasing the shadows of Messi, Xavi and Iniesta. The strikers were isolated.
Now, as you will probably know, I’m no tactical genius. But like any football fan I think I know best!
I knew England should play a four-three-three formation long before Fabio Capello did and I knew Avram Grant would send West Ham down in a whimper, just like he did with my beloved Pompey.
So what should Sir Alex have done? I think he should have played the traditional English way.
Let the three short amigos tap the ball around but when we get possession, lump it up the field. Yep, a good old-fashioned boot through the laces. A big man striker holds the ball up for his quicker-paced partner to slot it in. And bypass midfield. That’s where they won the game so cut the midfield out.
Look at past great British striker combinations. Heskey and Owen. Dalglish and Rush. Shearer and Ferdinand. Lineker and Beardsley.
It may not have not been pretty but it was exciting and would have at least given Manchester United a better chance.
Hang on, the phone is going. Oh, it’s Sir Alex, he’s asked me to be his number two for next season.