Sunday, November 30, 2008

Webb spoils Manchester derby as United stroll to victory...

When he first arrived on the scene many were hopeful that at last English football might have a top-class referee in Howard Webb, but after some encouraging performances today's man-in-the-middle has let his standards drop. That was certainly the case in the Manchester derby at Eastlands where United took all three points courtesy of a first-half Wayne Rooney goal after great work by Park.

Unusually for the derby, there wasn't a bad tackle in the whole game, yet Webb fell into the trap of brandishing cheap yellow cards to firstly Rafael da Silva and then Darren Fletcher. By the letter of law and no doubt Webb will tell anyone who'd listen that both deserved to be booked; the Brazilian had unwisely thrown the ball backwards after he was adjudged to have committed a foul and then Fletcher was booked for a trip on Shaun Wright-Phillips.

Manchester derby's are notoriously difficult for referees' and today having booked two United players for petty offences, the official set the tone for the remainder of the game and in so doing he gave himself a big problem. It therefore came as no surprise that more poor decisions followed as not long after the names of Stephen Ireland and then Vassell were added to the Webb's notebook in the name of redressing the card balance on either side.

Having booked four players in the opening period, Webb had given himself a major problem and then on 59 minutes Ronaldo was harshly booked for a trip on Wright-Phillips.

With local bragging rights at stake and with some much riding on the outcome of the derby, a truly top-class referee would have used common sense, but that wasn't the case today in the derby. When a referee starts to dish out cards for fun in games of this nature there's always the danger of the spectacle being ruined by the man-in-the-middle.

With five players walking a disciplinary tightrope it was only a matter of time before Webb eventually brandished his Red card; the player in question was Ronaldo who later claimed he'd heard the whistle blow as United took a corner - or was it that he'd been pushed? In all honesty it didn't matter; Ronaldo had to be booked as it looked like he'd tried to seek an advantage from the corner when handling the ball. It was a ridiculous thing to do and frankly it was the first time in the game that a yellow card was deserved. The problem was that Ronaldo shouldn't have been booked earlier in the half and here again Webb's officiating had come back to bite him and Ronaldo on the backside.

By the end of what wasn't a dirty game Webb had dished out eight yellow cards, which is totally ridiculous and this is why this particular official needs to review his performance which in my view spoilt the derby.

As for United's performance, in truth, it was pretty much a Sunday stroll to victory, but make no mistake United had to work for this much needed win. It was arguably the Reds' best away performance of the season so far.

Fergie, against all expectations started with Rafael da Silva at right-back - regular readers of this blog will know that I have been suggesting that the Brazilian should have been in the side in preference to John O'Shea and thankfully today's switch paid-off handsomely as Rafael had Robinho in his back-pocket, so much so that the City star was reduced to continually fouling his fellow countryman.

Today United played as a team from start to front, the passing was good and Berbatov made a big difference on his return from injury. Everyone in the Red shirt looked sharp; in contrast City looked jaded - possibly due to their trip to Germany on Thursday. However, whatever Mark Hughes the City boss may claim, Robinho, who didn't travel to Germany, had no excuse for being totally dominated by Rafael da Silva.

While United were by far the better team in every department, Ronaldo had a shocker so much so that the visitors were effectively playing with ten men and when he did have the ball, today for whatever reason on too many occasions he gave it back to City.

While Webb deserves to be questioned after his poor performance in the middle, he could have made things far worse for Ronaldo who had unwisely applauded the referee’s decision to book him on 59 minutes. At the time, I wondered why the United manager didn't take Ronaldo off there and then, because apart from anything else he was not playing well. Ferguson could have paid the price for his indecision, but United ran out winners after a nervy ending, but only after both teams had to make goal-line clearances in stoppage time.

If Fergie was playing fair selection wise, then Ronaldo would be dropped for United's next game, but as we have seen of late, it seems to be the case that the Portuguese star picks himself in the United team, while others like Carlos Tevez are left out in the cold. This bemusing situation will not further tax the uneven hand of Fergie against Spurs as Ronaldo is out suspended.

On a more positive note, Fergie deserves much credit for belatedly doing what he should have done weeks ago, that is starting with Rafael at right-back. United's defence deserves much credit too, because apart from Van der Sar's first-half aberration and that late goal-line clearance they looked solid as a rock today.

Man of the man: Ji-Sung Park - what he lacks in genuine star quality, he more than made up for today with his work-rate which could not be faulted.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Our Comment Policy. Do NOT post spammy unrelated comments for the purpose of link building - as they WILL be removed...Comments containing foul and vile abuse will be deleted.

Follow by Email