It was the day that Manchester United players, officials and fans paid tribute to those who lost their lives in Munich. A club feeling the intense pain of its history. And then the players had a football match to negotiate. But no ordinary football match. This was the Manchester derby. A game charged with a passion all of its own.
In the build up to the game, Sir Alex Ferguson bemoaned the fact that City were the visitors. He would have preferred different guests, such as Middlesborough. He was right. For his players had to handle a week of reflection. A week of solemnity. A week that put football into perspective. Then, be mentally right for a highly charged local derby.
It’s a very difficult balancing act. Perhaps better for them to have played a tribute game today then a match loaded with Premier League consequences. The fact that Manchester United lost their unbeaten home record, perhaps is no coincidence. Their emotional fuel was simply of the wrong gradient. Reflection can be transformed into motivational fuel. But, on this occasion, the weight of solemnity was too heavy a burden to carry.