Why I won’t mind if we exit the Champions League tomorrow

Messi scores against Arsenal

As long as Messi doesn't humiliate us again, I don't mind a respectable defeat

If we are to win the Champions League for the first time in our history, we need to get through tomorrow’s match and then play two quarter final ties, two semis and the final. That’s 5 more games. Do we really want to add 5 more games to our 10 league fixtures? That’s asking quite a lot of our injury hit squad. Yes, of course I’d love to see us crowned Champions of Europe, but we have a far more realistic opportunity of winning the title thanks to United’s two recent defeats and I don’t believe our squad can cope with what would be 15 intense matches instead of 10 – there are no easy league games left to rest players for Champions League fixtures, Saturday showed that.

If our treatment room was empty I’d say bring it on, but so prone are our brittle players to injury we couldn’t cope and would end up empty handed. If you cast your minds back to last year’s ties with Barca, we lost Fabregas, Gallas and Arshavin to injuries for the rest of the season and finished empty handed when well positioned in the run in. Well we’re here again, breathing down the necks of the leaders and our fragile first XI are starting to feel the effects of a long hard season, picking up injuries with alarming regularity.

If given a choice of beating Barcelona or Manchester United in the FA Cup I’d choose the latter, because if we beat United that’s only two games between us and a trophy, with only Man City of any real quality left in the competition. Far more achievable than playing five games in the Champions League against three teams from Man Utd, Chelsea, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and even Spurs!

So if (or should that be when?) we go out tomorrow, don’t shed too many tears. Our best result could be a narrow, heroic defeat with no new injuries and then we can focus on the pursuit of the domestic trophies to put in the cabinet in May.

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