Matt Dickinson in The Times: Manchester United are a club famous for their comebacks and, inside a thrillingly raucous Old Trafford, this felt like one of the most remarkable resurrections of them all. This was not just about saving a Champions League tie, but a man’s job.
Back from the dead, recovering when all seems lost: maybe David Moyes understands the United way after all. Make no mistake, this game had the potential to finish him. The Scot lives to fight another day after an occasion of ceaseless drama, though, amid the roars of triumph and relief, a sobering truth remains.
For an embattled manager, regaining the belief of the entire club, the fans, owners and, most importantly, the dressing room, remains a long, arduous task. He cannot be sure of the outcome. This was one game. Moyes still has to prove he deserves to keep his position next month, next season. If he succeeds, and he would have been sacked long before now at many clubs, that will be a more remarkable revival than one rousing victory over Olympiacos.
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Daniel Taylor in The Guardian: It was a night that began with wild stories of Manchester United supporters planning to tear down the 'Chosen One' banner and finished with David Moyes punching the air and saluting the crowd. His team had finally remembered what is expected of them inside this stadium and, in the process, they reminded everyone at Old Trafford what a special place this can be, under the floodlights, on the big occasions.
They were scenes of great jubilation and it feels like nitpicking to point out the victory songs did not extend to serenading Moyes. In every other respect, this was his finest moment in a difficult, often harrowing, first eight months as Sir Alex Ferguson's successor, and it may just have kept him in a job.
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Oliver Holt in the Daily Mirror: The march of the damned came to a blessed halt at Old Trafford on Wednesday night. From the ruins of a miserable season, Manchester United plucked one of the great evenings in their rich European history. It felt particularly sweet because so much that has preceded it has been so sour.
There were echoes of the memorable night the Red Devils overturned a two-goal Barcelona lead to win 3-0 here 30 years ago almost to the day. Others saw a better comparison in the day in January 1990 when victory in an FA Cup third round tie at Nottingham Forest saved Sir Alex Ferguson’s job.
Whether this result can be a catalyst for a wider United recovery remains to be seen. Whether it can be the turning point that under pressure manager David Moyes has been searching for is also open to question. But this much is sure: a Champions League exit last night would have made the pressure on Moyes almost intolerable. And failure to vanquish Olympiacos would almost certainly have seen the patience of the fans snap at last.
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Martin Samuel in the Daily Mail: It wasn’t one of those perfect hat-tricks. It wasn’t sublimely skilful, or greatly artistic in execution, not the poetry in motion we have come to expect in this tournament from Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo.
Yet it is hard to believe there will be a more valuable contribution to the David Moyes era than that of Robin van Persie at Old Trafford on Wednesday night. He didn’t just put Manchester United into the Champions League quarter-finals. He may even have kept his manager in employment.
Considering the wildly differing opinions about the job being done by Moyes around these parts, this may one day be seen as blessing or curse. On Wednesday night, though, everybody seemed delighted, and that can only be a good thing, having had so little to shout about of late.
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Kevin Garside in The Independent: Each fixture brings a fresh judgement on Moyes’ prospects. In the main he has borne the speculation well. There is an undeniable dignity about Moyes as an individual but being a nice bloke does not get this job done, as Ferguson’s many abuses of civility demonstrate.
Moyes’ promptings from the dugout are those of a conductor without a baton. He waves his hands, gesticulates but to no obvious effect. You might argue that once the whistle blows it is the job of the players to solves problems on the pitch. To a degree, but their ability to do so is conditional on the requisite preparation.
This is a group that has had the belief beaten out of them. The extra dimension that confidence brings is no longer on tap. That is entirely in the gift of the manager. You only have to look at the way Jose Mourinho has moulded Chelsea into a sum greater than its parts. Under Moyes, United don’t add up to the force of old, and he must bear responsibility for that. Edging past Olympiacos is a reprieve, nothing more.
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Paul Hayward in the Daily Telegraph: The banner that declared David Moyes 'The Chosen One' was in danger of being torn down. But it still hangs at the Stretford End after the 40-year-old Ryan Giggs – the imperishable Fergie Fledgling – returned to help save the manager’s skin.
'Giggs: tearing you apart since 1991.' That banner shouted its message from the opposite end. United, though, were in danger of tearing themselves apart until this 3-2 aggregate win against Olympiakos propelled them to the quarter-finals of the Champions League: a step too far for the noisy neighbours, Manchester City, who faced much tougher opposition in Barcelona.
United are still nowhere near the level of Sir Alex Ferguson’s time, which ended with the team as England’s champions. Greece’s best squandered chance after chance as United’s central midfield again resembled a deserted prairie at times, despite the best efforts of Giggs and the scuttling back of Wayne Rooney.
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Richard Tanner in the Daily Express: David Moyes would have appreciated the irony that it was two players rumoured to be at odds with him who proved to be Manchester United’s main heroes last night. Robin van Persie and Ryan Giggs have both strenuously denied that they have had their differences with Moyes, but they knew the best place to do their talking was on the pitch.
And their football spoke volumes last night as United pulled off a stirring comeback to join Chelsea in the last eight and ease the pressure building on Moyes.
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Jeremy Cross in the Daily Star: We arrived at Old Trafford wondering if it was to be RIP for David Moyes - but left hailing Manchester United saviour RVP. This was a Greek tragedy waiting to happen, with Moyes in the lead role on a night of huge implications for the Scot and his future.
Step forward Robin Van Persie as the Dutchman scored a stunning hat-trick to keep alive United’s European dream - not to mention his manager’s job.
Huge doubts over his position continue to grow, to such an extent that earlier this week a section of fans took to social media calling for the ‘Chosen One’ banner which hangs in his honour from the Stretford End to be removed. ‘Removed’ is the fate awaiting Moyes unless results improve, it seems. He is no longer the ‘Chosen One’ in some eyes, but the ‘Wrong One’. Yet last night he morphed into the ‘Lucky One’ as United staged a thrilling fightback reminiscent of the good old days.
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