Overcoming the European Champions and probably currently the best club side in the world was never going to be an easy task. If United could have achieved it however, it would have given their season, and the beleaguered manager, a massive boost. Unfortunately it didn’t work out that way, and the season may now peter out into a summer of introspection and recrimination.
After the first leg tie, United seemed to take great solace from the battling 1-1 draw, and their league form appeared to pick up as if in response. This was despite being allowed a miserly 26% of possession by a German team who never seemed to get out of second gear. Last night in Bavaria, United took the lead and, for 73 seconds, the highly improbable looked possible.
It was however only for that brief time, as Bayern responded quickly to the perceived threat, and then accelerated away to what was, in the final analysis, a comfortable 3-1 win. The question for Moyes now is how will his squad react to the defeat and what does he need to do to salvage whatever he can from the perceived wreckage of the season.
Looking at where the club stand now, particularly with reference to past achievements does not offer an encouraging picture. Out of all cup competitions and with a league position that suggests any aspirations for Champions League qualification are just a distant dream, the manager will need to assess what positives he can take from the season.
Contemplating the prospect of a first United season bereft top table European football for the first time since the 1995-96 season is surely not one of them.
Of course taking over from Sir Alex Ferguson was never going to be easy, but given that he was the duly anointed one and accepted the challenge of doing so, it would not really be feasible for Moyes merely to complain about the enormity of the task in front of him, or indeed to offer it as mitigation.
At the very least, the season needs to be one of transition, wherein he can claim that for all the trials and disappointments endured, the club is in a better state for next season than it was for the start of this one.
In order to do this, there will need to be plans in place to overhaul the squad that will involve both players being moved out and others brought in. Moyes has stated that not having the bait of Champions League football will not deter players from joining the club, as it remains one of the biggest draws in the world football.
The theory is sound, but the proof of that particular pudding will very much be in the eating. The Champions League remains an enticing prospect for the top line players, and something that is certainly prized highly.
If Moyes is correct, and he can – if allowed to – reconstruct his squad as he requires, the season may not be a total loss.
If August brings a reinvigorated United back to the Premier League, many will begin to forgive, forget and perhaps even understand that 2013-14 was just the necessary trial to be experienced as the massive change of Ferguson’s departure was washed through the club’s system.
If not however, and the club begins the new season in the same vein as much of this one, it could herald the start of a Moyes meltdown at the club.
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