Saturday, March 08, 2008

Shambolic United dumped out of FA Cup aided by appalling referee...

As FA Cup upsets go, Portsmouth dumping Manchester United out of the FA Cup in a quarter final at Old Trafford is arguably as big as any in the Reds illustrious history of this grand old competition. No doubting the bookies and those who despise everything that the Red Devils stand for, including the Pompey fans, will be absolutely delighted at the outcome of what was a very unlikely one-nil victory.

Pompey supporters cannot say that they truly deserved this win, because it came about in no small part down to extremely poor refereeing and bad finishing by the home team.

The game should have been put to bed by half-time, the fact that it wasn't was down to an out of sorts looking Wayne Rooney and Carlos Tevez, both contrived to miss gilt-edged chances when through on goal with only David James to beat.

For his part, the man-in-the-middle Martin Atkinson, will not want to see replays of one of the worst decisions that fans have ever seen at Old Trafford. The referee denied United a blatant first-half penalty when Sylvain Distin clearly made no attempt to play the ball as he took Cristiano Ronaldo out with what can only described as bodycheck that was more in keeping with the code of rugby rather than association football.

No doubting the pundit buffoons will trot-out the often used excuse 'the fact that Ronaldo goes looking for them probably influenced the referee's decision', that school of thought is complete and utter rubbish. Only those looking to cover the sorry ass of Martin Atkinson will repeat that line, along with those basking in the after-glow of this unlikely victory will agree with that assertion.

Pathetic refereeing apart, United only have themselves to blame for not reaching this year's FA Cup semi-final. Prior to today's game, the United manager had once again swung the selection lottery wheel of fortune and today's lucky numbers included number 18, Paul Scholes, at the expense of the younger and more energetic Anderson. While Scholes has done well in some games since his return from a long injury absence, like Wayne Rooney, he did not cover himself in glory today, in fact no one in the Red shirt played that well, but still United created enough chances to have won two games. It was that bad.

Late in the second period against the odds and with the tie looking likely to go to a replay, Pompey launched a counter-attack which caught United napping, Kranjcar broke down the right and played in substitute Baros, who was brought down by stand-in Kuszczak, who had replaced Edwin van der Sarr at half-time. There was no doubt it was another cast-iron penalty, but the hapless official then sent-off the United 'keeper - even though the Reds had two players behind the Polish stopper.

This defeat is very worrying for United fans for a number of reasons. Firstly, as many fans have pointed out on more than one occasion already this season, Ferguson clearly still does not know what his strongest team is. The United manager cannot keep on leaving out Anderson.

Secondly, United once again struggled at home against another well organised defence, the same thing happened in the derby and against Lyon, if the Reds are to go on and win the Premier league and Champions League then they will have to do better than they did today against what was a hard-working but workman like team of journeymen.

Rooney looked sluggish, there's no doubting his brilliance, but against Pompey he lost the ball and made the wrong decisions and coupled with Ronaldo not firing on all cylinders the Reds were unable to unlock the door and even when they did, like when Carrick was put through by Ronaldo late-on, the former West Ham star could not finish. It was one of those days.

Thirdly, while United only have themselves and Atkinson to blame for this defeat. Ferguson's options are limited in the striker department; this is largely a situation of his own making, as he maintains his squad is good enough. Few Reds that I know personally agree with Fergie on this point and today it was highlighted, with our very own man-in-bandages, aka Louis Saha once again picking up another injury in the warm up before today's game. Unbelievable.

Finally, in the same week that Sepp Blatter has been dishing out edicts on just about everything perhaps the FIFA president can bring out a new test (which includes a visit to SpecSavers) in a bid to ensure that referee's actually know the rules of the game, going off today Martin Atkinson would surely fail any such test.

1 comment:

  1. I think Saha is sulking coz he is not getting first team play. C'mon, you can't get injured in pre match training 3 times in a season...


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