Ronaldo, contact in the Area and United taking the easy road for once?
Making things easy for themselves. Manchester United have never been very good at that through history. Juventus, away, in the Semi Final in 1999 anyone? It turns out that hauling ourselves back from the brink of the exit was good for us; the goals we scored to equalise put us mathematically in a better posisition than we were because of the away goals and all that jazz. Bayern Munich in the Champions’ league final, do we take the lead? No. Do we score an equaliser quickly when they take the lead? No. We wait and produce the two single greatest minutes in any organised football match ever, and we win the match 2:1. Remind me, who put the ball in the Germans’ net?
This is a trend United fans have been used to seeing in the past and it was the reason I was not looking forward to the Middlesbrough game this week. With Chavski off this week and not playing until Sunday next week, we could have opened up a six point lead at the top, NINE points if we beat Man Shitty next week. Faced with that prospect I thought the scene was set for us to go and blow it and once again make it hard for ourselves by losing at the home of our bogey team.
Refreshingly, we did not. So what instead takes the highlights when once again United show they mean business this year in the battle for the title? Cristiano Ronaldo’s ‘dive. Typical. The guy did not dive, contact, if there was any would have been minimal but the onrushing ‘keeper did enough to lose Ronaldo his balance and deny the chance to score. Right or wrong, those are the rules and they were correctly applied Steven Gerard was handled exactly the same way when he went one-on-one with Paddy Kenny of Sheffield United a few months back, little or no contact, balance affected, intent shown, penalty.
For the record Gerarrd appealed that decision far more than Ronaldo did on Saturday, in fact no real response came from our man. There was a little shout when Wayne Rooney realised he had missed the target from following up on the ‘keepers save but none was really necessary. There was no hesitation from the official and if we look at the defence of the referee from the Liverpool incident he came on camera and said that intent was enough grounds to award a penalty, whether contact came or not it had adversely affected the player. The same applies to Ronaldo and the penalty was dispatched.
Not the best I have ever seen but probably one of the most important because Saha has taken no time to excosise his spot-kick demons.
Any other player would not have been vilified in the way that Ronaldo has been, after the world cup and his sometimes embarrassing history of going down like a wounded eagle he has the world on his back. He is at the right club to help him through and we are now seeing a happy Ronaldo because of that, his performances this season have been impressive and he seems to have grown in the criticism levelled at him for the exit of a below-par England team from the World Cup. I am sure he will still stamp and spit the dummy occasionally but with talent comes the other side of the coin that must be accepted.
If you think that these are purely the ramblings of a rose-tinted Man United fan and you think I have no argument at all about the maturing Ronaldo; consider the second goal, eventually nodded in by Darren Fletcher. If nothing else encapsulates the growth of a player then his part in that goal will do. Ronaldo of old would have instantly shot at goal after all his hard work, missing the target and bringing the inevitable ‘no end product’ labels his way. Instead, facing a chorus of boos from the Boro fans he chose to find a team mate and unselfishly set up the winning goal in a very important match for us. Ronaldo would grace any team and anyone who says that they wouldn’t want him in their team is either mad, a city fan or a newly signed up member of Chelsea’s support. Fancy tricks he may have but the end product is far more visible than it ever has been in the past and I think we owe this to the reaction of the fans who boo his every touch. Thanks to all those, for they have helped create the Ronaldo who sees his contribution to the team rather than a few tricks and no end product. He is becoming a greater thorn in the side of our rivals and we owe it all to those England fans who would have happily crucified him in the summer.
This has happened before; David Beckham went through exactly the same and became stronger because of it. At the end of the day it proves that all this ‘Anyone But United’ culture that goes on, is good for our football club.
“That boy Ronaldo, made England look shite!”