THEY sang all night about one of the great Champions League miracles, against this same opposition almost a quarter of a century ago.
They sang of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer scoring in injury-time in the Nou Camp in 1999.
They sang of a great Manchester United team – great enough to conjure a European Cup from a 1-0 deficit in the dying moments of a poor performance.
But this United team are nowhere near greatness. They are bang average at best and they are out of Europe after six miserable games.
This place is no longer the Theatre of Dreams, it’s more like Memory Lane.
It’s a place for nostalgia, for banners of Sir Alex Ferguson and Sir Matt Busby, songs of Solskjaer and Eric Cantona, and precious few mentions of the current bunch, an expensive squad decaying like Old Trafford itself.
Erik ten Hag’s side barely conjured a notable scoring chance on a night when the mathematics of the situation demanded that they go hell-for-leather at Bayern Munich.
The German perma-champions didn’t need to win this but they did so all the same – England captain Harry Kane angling a pass which caught the United defence shambling and allowed Kingsley Coman to thump home midway through the second half.
United’s dismal Premier League campaign suggests that Old Trafford will not be hosting elite European competition again until September 2025 at the earliest.
And this defeat meant that United do not even have the consolation of Europa League football in the new year.
Man Utd were booed off at full time.
The Red Devils are now out of Europe altogether after failing to qualify for the Europa League.
Not that they deserved anything from a campaign which had been chaotic and catastrophic in equal measures.
Without breaking too much sweat Bayern left Old Trafford with a victory – just as Bournemouth had done on Saturday and Newcastle, Manchester City, Crystal Palace, Galatasaray and Brighton before them this season.
Ten Hag’s job is not believed to be under any imminent threat because they’ve tried changing managers so often since Ferguson left that there are few candidates left to turn to.
Sir Jim Ratcliffe, a billionaire Earth-bothering fracker, will arrive soon with his dubious cycling mate, Sir Dave Brailsford, in a bid to make sense of this uninspiring squad, this shell of a football club.
But not before United rock up at Anfield this Sunday, to face a table-topping Liverpool side who gave them a 7-0 hiding the last time they met.
Injuries to Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw will make that an even taller assignment for Ten Hag.
But the air of resignation – of stupor – around Old Trafford said it all, as United fans trooped out in their thousands, way before the final whistle, with little more than shoulder shrugs.
United had needed to win this and hope that Copenhagen and Galatsaray drew in the other Group A fixture but events in the Danish capital were deemed irrelevant to Ten Hag’s team once Coman struck.
As they emerged for their warm-up United’s players were serenaded with a chorus of ‘you’re s**t and you know you are’ from Bayern’s fans, signing in impeccable Anglo-Saxon.
Surveying the carnage of this Champions League campaign, it was difficult to disagree with their assessment – United had already conceded 14 goals and were lucky to still be in with a shout before this finale.
Saturday’s 3-0 home drubbing by Bournemouth had set the limbo bar even lower for Ten Hag.
Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial were ruled out by sickness, so Rasmus Hojlund started and spent the evening in inglorious isolation.
Bayern were home and hosed as Group A winners long ago but after a shock 5-1 trouncing by Eintracht Frankfurt, they were at full strength here and their football was rapid, fluid and bright – Kane frequently dropping back into midfield to disrupt United and conduct Bayern’s attacks.
Despite the traumas of this season, there was an atmosphere waiting to break out at Old Trafford – you could sense it when Antony made his occasional, ultimately fruitless, darts down the right, but United’s players never turned the ignition.
Shaw had a shot from range pushed over by Manuel Neuer and Alejandro Garnacho shoved Kingsley Coman into the advertising hoardings behind the Stretford End goal in a petty-minded bid to raise passion levels.
Fernandes, not so much a captain as a walking tantrum, flung himself to the floor when he lost a heading duel with Dayot Upamecano.
He epitomises much that is wrong with this United team. A sense of entitlement, which conflicts starkly with the reality of their plight.
Leroy Sane duffed a great volleyed chance but United were at least limiting Bayern’s sights at goal.
Ten Hag was forced into a double change in defence when Harry Maguire pulled up with a groin injury, and made way for Jonny Evans, before Luke Shaw was replaced by Aaron Wan-Bissaka at the interval.
And it was Wan-Bissaka who swiftly provided United with their first clear chance when he cut back for Fernandes, the Portuguese only managing to trouble the supporters in Row Z.
United were just starting to liven up – Fernandes pinging a shot narrowly wide – when news emerged of Copenhagen taking the lead.
Soon Kane played his pass, Coman couldn’t miss and Bayern chalked up a 40th straight Champions League group game without defeat.
United have only one two Champions League knock-out matches in 11 seasons since Ferguson departed.
And tension was in the air as Ten Hag’s players were booed off the pitch at full time.
It could be a long, long stretch before they even get a chance to compete at this level again.
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