Date:Monday April 14 2008
Even last season, I frequently cringed when I saw Ronaldo lining up to take a free-kick. He more often than not smashed it into the wall or high over the bar. His only effort worthy of note came in that exhibition match against the European XI.
This campaign he's hugely improved this aspect of his game. Witness the perfect strikers against Sporting, Sunderland and Portsmouth or the cheeky low effort against Newcastle. But boy he needed to improve as he got a rival: Owen Lee Hargreaves.
The Canadian-born England midfielder has shown only glimpses of his prowess at set pieces at Bayern and England. At his former club players like Willy Sagnol, Mehmet Scholl, Sebastian Deisler and Michael Ballack usually volunteered to hit a free-kick. With England, it was of course David Beckham who stood in his way.
However, it must have been obvious in trainings for Sir Alex that the guy is an expert at set-pieces. And we had warnings as well: he hit very good free-kicks at Bolton and Reading, drawing great saves from Jaaskalainen and Hahnemann. The game at Fulham was his real opportunity: with only ten minutes gone, we were awarded a free-kick from a very promising position. Ronaldo was on the bench so Hargreaves stepped up and curled it in beautifully.
Since that goal he did not have much chance to display his skill again but yesterday showed his enormous courage: in a vital game at a vital time he dared to take the kick instead of Ronaldo and was rewarded with a fabulous goal. The question is, which of them should take our freekicks from now?
Their styles are entirely different. Ronaldo strikes the ball in a fashion that is almost incomprehensible for us lesser mortals: it dips, swerves, and is virtually unsaveable as the keeper has no chance to guess which way it will go eventually. Add to this an awesome power on the kick and you there's something really formidable there.
It is a little ironic that while our Portuguese prefers power and pace, the Englishman calls cunning to his aid. His free-kicks are beautifully composed works, with the ball hit at exactly the right angle and curled into exactly the right place. He is also more reliable than Ronaldo: almost always hits the target at the very least. They are not as powerful as Ronaldo's but much more precise.
What I'm trying to get across is that the current set-up is wonderful for me. Hargreaves revealed yesterday that he had wanted to take an earlier freekick but Ronaldo had told him it was too far for him. I hope this kind of understanding between them continues: from long range, it definitely has to be Ronaldo. But when the ball is closer to the goal, leave it to the clockwork precision of Owen Hargreaves.
Date:Monday April 14 2008
Rooney Forced Out? (Wednesday May 22 2013)
Moyes Interested in Shaw (Wednesday May 22 2013)
Robin van Persie Wins Barclays Golden Boot (Wednesday May 22 2013)
Sir Alex Cleans Up (Tuesday May 21 2013)
Hoping to Make a Killing? (Tuesday May 21 2013)
Carrick Reaction to West Brom Drama (Monday May 20 2013)
Don`t Call Me Boss Again (Monday May 20 2013)
Van Persie Claims Golden Boot (Monday May 20 2013)
Stats: West Brom v United (Sunday May 19 2013)
West Brom 5 United 5 (Sunday May 19 2013)
|Man Utd||3||-||0||Aston Villa|
|West Ham||2||-||2||Man Utd|
|1. Man Utd||38||28||5||5||+43||89|
|2. Man City||38||23||9||6||+32||78|
|Coates thanks friend Pulis
» Stoke : 22/05/2013 18:30:00
|Petrov Delighted With Assistant Coach Role
» Aston Villa : 22/05/2013 16:52:00
|Boateng Signs Two Year Deal
» Fulham : 22/05/2013 16:50:00
|Sullivan Warns Of Complacency!
» West Ham : 22/05/2013 16:49:00
» West Ham : 22/05/2013 16:48:00
» West Ham : 22/05/2013 16:47:00
|Carroll Fee Agreed
» West Ham : 22/05/2013 16:46:00