The British national press pulled no punches after Manchester United went down to a humiliating 2-0 defeat at Olympiakos.
United, whose best hope of returning to the Champions League next season had appeared to be success in this year’s competition, face an uphill battle to recover from a dismal night in Athens in which they could not muster a response to Alejandro Dominguez and Joel Campbell goals either side of the break.
The Times headlined its back-page coverage “United suffer Greek tragedy” and writer Bill Edgar described it as “their worst performance of a dismal season.”
Former Ireland international Tony Cascarino added in his Times column: “Ever since the days when the Busby Babes made Europe sit up and take notice, Manchester United have been synonymous with a style of football that is adventurous, fast and easy on the eye. Last night against Olympiakos I could see none of those qualities. Take the club badge off their shirts and it could have been any average Barclays Premier League team. That shouldn’t come as a surprise because that is exactly what United are right now.”
The Daily Telegraph was no kinder, with its main headline declaring David Moyes’ side to be “Clueless, aimless and hopeless” while journalist Henry Winter wrote: “United were too cautious in design, too clueless in possession and too generous with space, presenting Olympiakos with time and room to score. Beware Greeks burying gifts. This was a United side that its increasing band of detractors would argue appeared only marginally behind the Acropolis as a rebuilding project.”
The Sun twisted the knife with an array of puns, from “Greek Roo-ins” on its front page to “Mousacka for Moyes -- Clock ticking after pitta-ful United’s Greek tragedy” on the back, and writer Neil Custis continued the theme: “Manchester United’s disastrous season was lying in ruins last night after a Champions League humiliation in Greece. Things went from kebab to worse for David Moyes as Old Trafford fans called for the boss to be sacked just eight months into his reign.”
The Daily Mirror contributed another pun -- “Greek Clods” -- on its back page while the Daily Mail simply headlined its coverage: “Humiliated!”
Mail columnist Martin Samuel wrote: “Olympiakos. Not Bayern Munich or Barcelona. Olympiakos. Not master coach Pep Guardiola. Michel. Not Lionel Messi. Alejandro Dominguez. And not down to 10 men either. Unlike Arsenal and Manchester City last week, Manchester United had their full complement on the field. It just didn’t look like it.
“This may well be the worst performance of David Moyes’s brief time as United manager, the one that really will cause questions to be asked about his suitability.”
The Guardian’s Jamie Jackson also suggested that “in a season of lows” the defeat in Athens would “cause the most serious postmortem yet,” concluding: “Moyes faces questions regarding his selection and how, precisely, he can motivate players who ended this game with belief drained.”