Paddy Crerand declared his admiration for Manchester United’s Europa League conquerors after witnessing a second impressive performance by Athletic Club in eight days.
The Reds legend also expressed his bewilderment at the Basque club’s domestic position – while Marcelo Bielsa’s side comfortably knocked out the English champions, they have effectively no hope of challenging Spain’s elite leaders in La Liga.
“How is it possible that the team we've seen here tonight are 30 points behind Real Madrid? They were terrific,” said Crerand, while in Bilbao for MUTV.
“Athletic Club were by far the better side over the two matches. We have to hold our hands up and applaud them, as they were way ahead of us.
“We had maybe 15 or 20 minutes when we played quite well. But after that Athletic were different class. And given the number of misses they had, it could have been any score.”
The 2-1 reverse at Estadio San Mames was the Reds’ fourth defeat across the Champions League and Europa League in 2011/12.
“We've had a bad year in Europe this year, there's no question about that," admitted Crerand.
"We’ve not lived up to the standard that's been set. But when you lose to the better team as Athletic were, there's nothing you can do about it."