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Manner of United’s Win More Important than three points

Ronaldo showed why he can infuriate as well as excite the United faithful with his double yesterday. He showed little in the first half to merit the hype about his credentials as among the world’s best. But still, Ronaldo, at half steam currently sits atop the league’s top scorer. This from a winger who’s been given a more orthodox wide role this season than last.

Yet, there he was yesterday, being his usual petulant self — giving the ball away, making a poor effort of trying to win it back. Of course, it would be a stretch to pin the blame on him for the second Villa goal, but he really seems to have lost the spark that made him so feared last season.

But at the end of the game, my feelings were best summed up by Rob Smyth of the Guardian:

That United go top of the table as a consequence is almost incidental: this will be talked about every bit as much as Steve Bruce’s 96th-minute winner against Sheffield Wednesday in 1993, and indeed Mark Hughes’s season-turning injury-time equaliser against Oldham in the FA Cup semi-final a year later. This was the day an unknown 17-year-old kid, brought on as a hunch, took the game, the season and his entire life by the scruff of the neck and decided: this is mine.

What happens between now and May could be anyone’s guess; United could still squander this from here. But the rush of confidence and belief that a late goal like this can bring is hard to rival any other emotion. United were in dire need of a win; a second wind to make the last lap of this title race. They were the bleeding giant that, by Sunday, had perhaps bled too much to survive. But the giant refused to die and Macheda’s goal made sure of that. Villa were stricken, and rightly so, like a fallen amateur boxer who should have killed off his opponent when he was down and out.

So are the boys back in town? Not really. (For the pedantically inclined, some of the big boys in Vidic, Rooney and Scholes will return for Porto, but we’re not talking the same thing, then). The win papered over defensive cracks that have been opening up alarmingly. In our last three games we’ve conceded 8 goals! And we can’t always excuse a changed back four because we broke clean sheet records when our back four kept changing. Hopefully, if Rio’s groin does not get better a Vidic-Evans partnership would surely be an improvement over yesterday.

Which brings us to Gary Neville. It utterly pains me to see a player who clearly has far too much pride to be cutting such a sorry figure on the pitch yesterday. There was a tinge of regret on his face in the post match interview when he hinted he wasn’t upto it in the first half. After having seen the start-stop nature of his season, I find it hard to imagine he’ll ever be galloping along our right wing at full pelt. More importantly, Neville will have to own up to it and admit it himself that he’s not even a shadow of his past self. Otherwise, I see Fergie preferring him owing to sentimentality, or the fact that he is our current captain.

Villa overran a poor United side in the first half, and had it not been for a mixture of bad luck (thanks to poor calls from the linesmen) or just the lack of a final ball, they would have been ahead of us. Instead, in the second half they appeared strangely content to let us back into the game. The last 20 minutes were entirely United, but one never saw how we were going to score until Ronaldo’s strike, which really came out of nothing.

Three points today, but more important will be the morale the players will be taking into Porto. It’s less than 48 hours away, but it’s a home game and with players returning fresh from suspension, our side should wear a more menacing look in midweek.

Or, at least, one would hope.



  1. Dan

    6 April 2009 at 20:46

    @Grognard: yep, a LW is the ONLY postion i want fergie to sign. Valencia is good, has the potential to be world class, but i want really world class winger right now!

    I want ribery, silva, ribery, sanchez, simoa, ribery, valencia

    Those are the wingers i want in that order…

  2. Craig Mc

    6 April 2009 at 20:54

    @Grognard: O right Grog, fair enough 😆 . But Ouzo mate, man that stuff is lethal 😆 , just take care and keep it down to minimum. 😉

  3. Craig Mc

    6 April 2009 at 21:01

    @Grognard: So I’d be an Arsene Wenger developer of youth talent, and you’d be a cash flowing like theres no tomorrow Abramovitch 😉 😆 😆 . My team would still kick your ouzo arse – 😆 .

  4. Dan

    6 April 2009 at 21:13

    ive uploaded this video to a youtube acount that my brother made for me a while but forgot to tell me about it, poor thing, he doesnt go on youtube much.

    It hasnt processed yet, so you have a bit of a wait i guess…

  5. Traverse

    6 April 2009 at 21:27

    @Craig Mc: It’s not Rio deciding to play for England and not United. If he was injured, we wouldn’t have allowed him to join up with the England squad. His injury happened towards the end of a match while he was playing. If it’d have been a United game that day, he’d have been injured for United. Pointless argument club vs country. Rio would play EVERY game if he could.

  6. Dan

    6 April 2009 at 21:30

    Its been processed, have a look.

    The quality of the video was awesome on my computer, then when i uploaded it, it was pants!

  7. Shreyas

    6 April 2009 at 22:15

    @Dan: Macheda had a 100% pass completion rate yesterday mate. I am not saying that this proves he is an all round player, but that he is more well rounded than u make him out to be. And I am not saying this based just on the pass completion statistic but seeing some of his reserve games highlights as well where he has had many driving runs and good passes into the box. He is mainly fox in the box, but has some other skills as well unlike Inzaghi or RVN.

  8. edwin

    6 April 2009 at 22:17

    Listen for Rio, at about 1:10! priceless!

  9. NicoQB

    6 April 2009 at 23:01

  10. Dan

    6 April 2009 at 23:04

    @Shreyas: thats because he had one shot 🙄

  11. johnsom33

    7 April 2009 at 00:19

    @Rd: “That “talentless” Korean offers more to the team in terms of both attacking and defending than the talented but brainless diving Portugese ever could.”

    defending yes, but offensive never. Even an off form nani has more attacking prowess than Park on his best day. and when Nani is on he is absoultely unplayable. go watch the the FA cup game last year against Arsenal. Nani ripped them to shreds. His problem is consistency, and a player like him will never get consistency when he constantly being pulled back and forth from the first team.

    Love him or hate, you cant deny his obvious talents.

  12. Craig Mc

    7 April 2009 at 00:30

    @Traverse: Traverse hate to disappoint you mate, but Rio was injured training with ENGLAND, so sat out the first friendly game, but even though he knew he was risking provoking the injury again, he decided to play for England 3 days later in the 2nd game of their week. So please no excuses for him, everyone knew if he played, he had massive chance of aggravating a recurring injury. He chose England, when they didn’t really need him, they had excellent cover, but like Grog said, Rio was afraid of losing his England place. United were 2nd in his thinking. That is the truth of the matter Traverse!

  13. Traverse

    7 April 2009 at 00:42

    @Craig Mc: If he was with our team he’d have done it with us. How many times this year has he played for us after a back spasm? I’m sure he could have had an operation at any point in the season to sort this reoccurring injury, and he hasn’t, so that he can play.

    I think you’re trying to find a scapegoat for something that isn’t there, or to detract from the fact that Nani will be sitting on spurs bench next season….

    Also, who is he afraid of loosing an england place to? Jagielka? Lescott? Upson? Think it through…

  14. Grognard

    7 April 2009 at 01:03

    @Craig Mc: I’m Greek man. Ouzo is like water to us. 😀

  15. Grognard

    7 April 2009 at 01:04

    @Craig Mc: I’d pay for somebody to kick yours. 😉

  16. Grognard

    7 April 2009 at 01:10

    @Craig Mc: You beat me to it mate. Well said. Rio would not have had any injuries had he decided the stretch run with United was more important than playing for England when they had two easy as Hell fixtures. It’s about priorities and respecting the ones who play your large salary over the ones who just use you. I understand the desire to play in the World Cup but nothing comes before the club, nothing. And frankly, after the Vidic suspension, he knew his club needed him more and that playing for England risked injury. Selfish!

  17. Grognard

    7 April 2009 at 05:33

    I stand corrected on my answer I gave yesterday to the question of whether Machedo was available to play in the Champions League tie vs Porto. I originally said no because I doubted whether Fergie had put hisnmae down for the tournament but apparently the Gaffer was wiser than all of us and he did. Ferguson spotted his potential early and named him in this season’s UEFA Champions League squad. Macheda was rewarded for his match-winning display at the weekend by being named in the squad to play Porto on Tuesday.

  18. Grognard

    7 April 2009 at 05:43

    From the Sun;

    TEEN sensation Federico Macheda cost Manchester United just £35,000.

    The 17-year-old earns little more than a grand a week — the amount Rio Ferdinand picks up every TWO HOURS.

    But while United fans revel in their new hero’s match-winner against Aston Villa on Sunday, a thundering row has erupted in Italy with his old club Lazio fuming at being paid so little in compensation.

    Last night, Lazio president Claudio Lottito launched a devastating attack on the “immoral” Red Devils for the way they moved in and “stole” Macheda the day after he turned 16 in August 2007 — as United took advantage of FIFA rules which prevent players turning pro in Italy before that age.

    Lottito said: “We knew Macheda was a great player. We had done everything possible to keep him at Lazio.

    “Nevertheless, Italian laws did not permit that a young lad below 16 years old could sign a contract, so these kids can be stolen by other clubs.

    “These clubs do not respect the ethical code and go to the parents of kids, give them money, maybe even find them work so they ‘buy’ the parents, who then sign on behalf of their kid.

    “These are kids that come from poor families and, to get more money, these families even are willing to go abroad with the hope their kid becomes a great player with a lot of money.

    “I spoke with the parents of Macheda, making them a great offer — but they had already decided to leave.

    “It’s immoral because this is like people behave in the cattle market. In football it should not happen because it’s a sport that is based on authentic values like the respect to the rules.”

    Ex-Lazio sporting director Walter Sabatini also laid into United.

    He said: “Taking Macheda was an act of cowardice and arrogance on the part of Manchester United.

    “In my view they robbed Lazio, just as they robbed Parma for Giuseppe Rossi before.


    “Someone has to do something to change the rules because so many clubs are getting fleeced in this way so that the strongest clubs can just get stronger.

    “I wrote three letters on behalf of Lazio, for the attention of Ferguson at Manchester United.

    “I explained that it was wrong for one great club to be hitting another in this way. I said that taking Macheda showed a lack of respect.

    “Ferguson never once replied personally but some club secretary wrote back saying that everything United were doing was within the rules.”

    Macheda hopes scoring United’s most crucial goal for years will save him from a year on loan at Rangers. Fergie was considering sending the teenager to Glasgow to sharpen his skills.

    But after Sunday’s dramatic late winner, Ferguson is tempted to promote the striker to his first-team squad for the 2009-10 season.

    United reserve-team boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had no doubt that Macheda would deliver once he got a chance.

    He said: “Macheda is a big talent. It is not easy to leave your home country at 16 and come to a new culture.

    “He signed pro last year but has buckled down and got a professional head on him. We expected him to make progress and he has.”

    Ah BOO FUCKING HOO for poor Lazio. Don’t blame United you dumb stupid Italian bastards. Blame your laws that prohibit your teams from signing these players before the age of 18. My heart fucking bleeds. After all the skulduggery we have had to deal with when it comes to Real and Ronaldo, it’s nice to know we screwed over an Italian team.

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  20. Shreyas

    7 April 2009 at 08:08

    @Dan: Check the guardian chalkboards. He played around 9 passes in and around the penalty box and all of them in the final 3rd and all 9 were successful.

  21. Karl

    8 April 2009 at 08:58

    @Grognard: Fuck Lazio! They still have not paid us our money for the Jaap Stam sale.

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