Champions' League exit to champions is United's goal

They have all been through it and now one of them must do it again. Year after year, either Chelsea, Arsenal or Manchester United have been ejected from European competition – often in cruel manner – only to respond by becoming champions of England. The difference this time is that all three, having suffered their disappointment a little earlier than usual, are still in contention for what would be a more highly prized consolation than ever.

Thus it was that within minutes of suffering the hammer blow inflicted by Bayern Munich, and specifically Arjen Robben, at Old Trafford on Wednesday, United were setting their sights anew, on what in their case would be a piece of history. Who better to encourage them from the heart of the dressing room than Ryan Giggs?

As with just about everything, good and bad, that has befallen the club in recent times, Giggs has been there before. Half-a-dozen times he has seen them recover from the disappointment of Champions' League elimination to win the Premier League. In this case, as has been well recorded, even the Welshman would be breaking new ground if United were to finish top for the fourth successive season.

"Of course we can rescue the season, even though it was a disappointing night," he said in the aftermath of Bayern's success on the away-goals rule. "There are so many positives and we have five games to go and we have to win them all. It won't be easy but we are capable of doing it. Hopefully Chelsea and Arsenal will slip up but that is what we will be aiming to do."

The complication, of course, as the chase resumes with United's visit to Blackburn this afternoon, is that Chelsea are currently two points in front after their deserved victory at Old Trafford last weekend, and Arsenal are just a single point behind. It is tempting to suggest that the eventual champions will be the team who deal best with their most dangerous away matches, namely Chelsea's two games at Tottenham and Liverpool, United's derby at Eastlands and Arsenal's visit to White Hart Lane on Wednesday. As has happened before, however, a draw or even defeat against unexpectedly inspired or defiant opposition could be the result that undermines a whole campaign.

Blackburn away today could be such a game, but Giggs will have been pleased to hear Sir Alex Ferguson say: "We will have to depend on experience.It is a game for Giggs and [Paul] Scholes and probably Gary Neville. Blackburn is never an easy place to go to. The pitch is not very good, it is bare and lively now the weather has turned. I am stronger squadwise than I've ever been. The test is as much mental and physical but they have to go for it."

Giggs was adamant that the sense of regret over Wednesday must be quickly overcome and used as a spur by the younger players who, he felt – generously in the case of Rafael da Silva – distinguished themselves against Bayern. "Learning from these disappointments for young players is what being a Manchester United player is all about. When I was 18 or 19, I had loads of disappointments. I had a lot of success as well but it can help you in the long run and you remember these nights and don't want to feel like this again, so you try and do something about it. You have to take knocks in your career but it's how you come back that makes you into a United player."

New Articles
tvDownton Abbey Christmas special
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
News
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
art
News
The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
fashion
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all