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Berba Ran The Show, Not Riley

Southampton boss Jan Poortvliet, along with the media, does his best to convince everyone that his side was undone by Mike Riley who favoured United all afternoon as the sides clashed in the FA Cup.

It is, once again, absolute nonsense but nothing more than what we could expect. Firstly, Danny Welbeck's goal: yes, it was marginally offside. But it was by the finest of margins, real hard to spot and he gained no advantage by being a few inches ahead of the last defenders who were back in front of him when O'Shea's header struck the keeper.

Second, the red card. I can't see how can anyone debate that: it was a nasty lunge, aimed straight at Vidic's leg, feet off the ground, hitting the Serbian under the knee. A straight red if I ever saw one.

Third, the penalty. Well, many say the ball hit the back of the defender's head - for me, after the 463th replay it still seems that it was his arm which, for some inexplicable reason, was in the air. It might be that it hit the back of his head but when even television replays cannot provide conclusive evidence I cannot see how the referee can be blamed...

And there is the most important reason as well: even if all their complaints would be legitimate, they still could not argue that the Saints deserved anything out of this game. United, for the first time in weeks, showed their class, and we've outclassed the hosts after a scrappy opening 15 minutes.

Southampton's performance more than justified their league position: they were vulnerable at the back, disjointed in midfield and had no cutting edge up front. So I'm not getting carried away and say that the Manchester United of 2007/08 is finally back. But it was refreshing to see our players play with confidence, verve and conviction...

Though there were many fine performers (Nani dribbled the right-back into submission, Carrick was as impressive as ever, and Anderson was very energetic while young Danny Welbeck scored the opener and was a real handful all afternoon, Darron Gibson scored the game's easily finest goal after great work from Rooney) but one man stood out and he was the majestic Dimitar Berbatov.

I know he rarely reaches these heights in the Premier League but his football is becoming more consistent as he gets used to his teammates and to the fact that teams set up their tactics differently against Spurs than against Manchester United. I daresay he'll be invaluable for us during the second half of the season.

Yesterday, he was at the centre of everything: his nonchalant flick-ons always seemed to find their targets, his beautiful threaded passes created danger and his dribbling bamboozled and confused defenders. They just could not get anywhere near him. It was a fantastic performance, and hopefully a sign of things to come.




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The Journalist

Writer: Zae Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Monday January 5 2009

Time: 11:36AM

Your Comments

I normally regard Riley's record with United as very suspicious and dubious. However, on this occasion, the sending off was absolutely right. Under the current rules Welbeck was not offside, the ball hit the bar and therefore, when it came back to Welbeck it was another "phase of play" which, as stupid and confusing as the rule is, means he is not offside. Thirdly, the penalty was a little harsh, the ball did hit the guy's head but it did take several replays to decipher that and the guy was asking for trouble by having his arm up in the first place. The media have to try their best to sell this "romance of the Cup" myth as best they can and "plucky underdog robbed by referee" preserves that myth a lot better than "European Champions predictably roll over Championship strugglers with minimal fuss."
Little Dutch
This article is nonsense, United where a disappointment. The scoreline flattered and Nani was a disgrace.
Jesus_02
Jesus_02 - flattered us?? That game could've been a riot! You're not a very good WUM
ForeverUnited
I agree, we expect more of our WUMs on this site! Go away and think of something clever, maybe then we will humour you!
Tosswink
berbatov is finally settling in at united :D
matth01
needs to shoot a bit more i think
fenton_01
 

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