Date: 1st September 2008 at 8:28am
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I cannot let the Zenit game pass without talking about it: it was quite a meaningless game – every single league game is more important – but United’s performance was unacceptable.

On Friday night, there were occasions when I simply laughed because we were so dismal that it beggared belief. I don’t think we’ve played this badly since that 4-1 reverse at Middlesbrough in 2005.

OK, in the first half we totally dominated possession, you may say. Yes, but only because we took no risks and our defenders were happy to pass around while in midfield there was very little movement and Rooney, less diligent than usual, became totally isolated.

In the second half, Zenit already one up, they realised that if they press us we are bound to lose the ball and with the mood we were in we were not likely to chase them properly to retrieve it. And so it happened: they even started to have more possession as well as more dangerous chances whereas some of our players – Scholes, Anderson and to a lesser extent Nani – looked like they were not even bothered about the game.

It is quite unacceptable. Every team can have off-days but we cannot give it up without a fight. The only player who earned any praise was Carlos Tevez: he was our best performer by a mile and some more. He was willing to run, he was dangerous, he provided plenty of ammunition – and of course he supplied the assist for the consolation goal.

But before that happened we had been embarassed by Danny who picked up the ball at the halfway line, ran at everybody, beat everybody and smashed the ball home. We didn’t even make a creditable attempt to tackle or at least foul him. Rio let him go without trying anything to stop him…

But Vidic’s goal, finally, woke the team up. For the last 20 minutes we played the way we should have from the kickoff: we pushed them hard, we chased every ball and created good chances. But we wouldn’t have deserved the equaliser: that would have been hugely unjust on Zenit who were the better team for 75 minutes.

On Scholes’ moment of madness: I found it funny, to be honest. It somehow epitomised the lack of professionalism we’ve shown all night but by that time I could not be angry. I just laughed in disbelief.