Sunday, January 20, 2008

Ferguson does Haka as Rooney and Ronaldo leave it late....

The general consensus of most United followers is that they certainly made hard work of their 2-0 victory over Steve Coppell's Reading on Saturday, in what turned out to be a decent game to watch with the Royals giving pretty much as good as they got.

Visits to the Madejski Stadium are rarely easy and it's a venue where the Reds have dropped points in the past, but with the home team playing offensive football from start to finish, it was a very open contest.

Not surprisingly United created a bag full of chances, the best of which fell to the Reds top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo, but it took until the dying moments of the game to finally kill off Reading. Before that and late on in the second half, Wayne Rooney had opened the scoring with what was arguably the most memorable piece of skill on a day that wasn't without excitement or talking points. Up and until that point the Reds had really struggled in front of goal, as the Royals somehow managed to survive United's swift counting football. Steve Coppell had something of a makeshift back four on duty with key players away on African Nations Cup Duty. Centre-back Kalifa Cisse made one superb goal-line clearance from a second half Vidic header when the ball looked certain to be crossing the line, at that point it looked like it wasn't going to be the visitors day in front of goal.

With United having the Lions share of the ball and with time running out Fergie swapped Hagreaves for Nani as United when all out to get the vital goal. On 77 minutes the Reds were finally rewarded when once again Tevez and Rooney linked-up superbly as the former Everton striker finished instinctively with a deft flick of the ball which gave Hahnemann no chance.

Following the setback of that opening goal, Reading hit back at they might well believe that they should have scored themselves after creating several half chances which will have had watching United fans biting their collective finger-nails. However, Ronaldo finished off the Royals in injury time with a lung busting run which must have been fully 50 yards and ended with another clinical finish from the Reds top marksman.

On a day that should be remembered for the skill of Rooney and the power of Ronaldo, many fans will no doubt also remember this game for Ferguson's bizarre version of the Haka, which we are told was directed the Reading bench and in particular Wally Downs. Quite what had led to Fergie celebrating Ronaldo's goal in such a manner would be make for interesting reading. Fans have been left to assume that Wally Downs and Fergie had been exchanging views on Ronaldo throughout the game - whatever it was the spectacle of Ferguson ranting and gesturing "Up Yours" was a first for many seasoned observers of Sir Alex.

Another talking point was the presence of Fabio Capello, however, the new England manager appeared to disappear long before the end of the game and so if true he missed the vital contribution of Rooney. Going off the TV footage of Capello he actually looked bored rigid and he doesn't take notes during the game in the style of say Mourinho. Given that Capello knows so few English players, it really does make you wonder if the Italian is here purely to top up his pension.

On a more positive note Hargreaves once again looked good in midfield and the link up play between Tevez and Rooney looks to be getting even better and so Ferguson's plan to pair them together looks sounder by the game - and many in the media suggested that they were too similar. How very wrong the doubters were.

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