Thursday, December 13, 2007

United fans on sharp end as Italians once again fail the security test...

Once again Reds supporters have been attacked and stabbed by cowardly knife wielding Italian scum prior to the AS Roma vs. United game in Rome last night. We were led to believe this would not happen again following the appalling scenes of last season when visiting fans were attacked by both the locals and the police. Sadly and predictably, it happened again with several supporters sustaining 'serious' looking facial injuries.

At least one supporter was reportedly attacked by a policeman prior to the game which ended in a creditable draw. It could have been much worse, visiting fans can be thankful that they didn't find themselves on the wrong end of a Carabinieri bullet, unlike the Lazio fan who was killed recently. There's no point in saying that something will only be done when someone gets killed - as clearly little or nothing happens in Italy even when there's a fatality and as we saw last night the violence carries on unchecked.

No doubting that UEFA will come down hard on United again, but Reds supporters have an excellent recent record when travelling abroad and surely it's no coincidence that yet again trouble flared up in Rome.

Many fans will no doubt be amazed to learn that despite the appalling behaviour of the Carabinieri, Roma "stewards" and "Roma fans" UEFA has awarded the Champions League 2009 Final to Rome - which must be in Europe's top three worst cities when it comes to football related violence.

The joke that is UEFA, recently fined both United and Roma for the events of last season and then we learn that the city has been awarded this prestigious final - what sort of message does this send out to Italian football? What is the Italian phrase for "corruption and brown paper bags stuffed with Lira"?

Of the match itself, despite fielding a team which lacked experience in the back four United were marginally the better side without creating too many clear cut openings.

Gerard Pique gave the visitors a deserved first half lead from a corner. The Spaniard's header was the Reds main first-half highlight in a game that wasn't as dull as some feared it might be with both sides having little to play for. Nonetheless it did not stop the Italian TV director spending an inordinate amount of time showing gratuitous crowd shots. Viewers learnt as much about the latest Italian headwear of choice as they did about the stars on display in the somewhat sparsely populated Olympic Stadium. For those looking for fashion tips and if you did not see the game, beenie hats and bandanas appear to be the current di-rigour.

United's own fashion icon (tee he) Wayne Rooney looked pin-sharp and dare I say slimmed down. 'Wazza' had a decent game without unduly troubling the Roma back-four, apart from a fantastic second half one-two with Louis Saha that should have ended with United making it 2-0 only for the Roma stopper deny the Frenchman. Not long after the home team levelled through Mancini after Roma boss Spalletti made several late changes, by which time Rooney had been taken off and safely wrapped in cotton wool for his return to his native Merseyside for that huge game on Sunday when United visit Liverpool.

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