Date:Saturday April 25 2009
OK, I'm resigned to the fact that all the talk will be about Webb's decision to award a penalty to United. Referees are forbidden to do that, according to the media, that's why Riley's SHOCKING decision in the FA Cup semi-final didn't make the news: our players can be hacked down in the box without consequences.
So, I guess, there will be little about Wilson Palacios' disgusting two-footed lunge on Ronaldo which should have been a red card, immediately - instead Webb didn't even book him! Possibly the worst decision of the season, his 'tackle' was no better than Martin Taylor's, the only luck is that Ronaldo jumped out of the way.
But actually, most of the discussion should be about United's class and spirit which was evident in the second half. After going down to two incredibly annoying goals after a decent opening period, we responded by coming out to the second half and blowing them away. We saw nothing like it this season, nothing - only the last 15 minutes against Aston Villa come anywhere close to this.
That 'controversial' penalty (Gomes took out Carrick and if he got the ball, did so only by a fingertip so at worst it's dubious but at first it definitely looked like a clear penalty) was actually United's THIRD great chance in the second half so a goal looked inevitable as Spurs, who played very, very cleverly in the first half, began to defend deeper and deeper. A big mistake, in hindsight.
Ronaldo converted the penalty but even that didn't fully click us into gear if I'm honest. Tevez played his best game of the season after replacing Nani but Scholes' introduction seemingly changed little - indeed, Spurs got a grip on themselves after the equaliser and regained some of their midfield composure.
It was the equaliser, a brilliant attack, started by Scholes, involving Tevez, Berbatov and finally Rooney who charged down the left and fired in a low shot with Gomes couldn't reach at the near post - another mistake by the goalkeeper and after this goal, there was going to be only one outcome.
And sure enough, the unstoppable Rooney whipped in a delightful cross which Ronaldo converted with a precise diving header. Old Trafford exploded, Ronaldo got booked for overly zealous celebrating - what a stupid rule that is, really.
But we were enjoying ourselves now, Berbatov produced some wonderful flicks and passes, Ronaldo tormented the full-backs and Rooney... well, he was everywhere, every time, turning up where he was needed most. It wasn't unexpected at all that United got two more goals, the fourth being an almost sexual pass from Ronaldo finding Rooney on the left and his shot somehow sneaked over the line amid the protests of Woodgate who claimed he had cleared in time. He hadn't.
And Berbatov then got the goal what his performance fully warranted, even though once again fingers can be pointed at Gomes and every single Spurs defender. But the result in the end did not flatter United in the slightest: we ran riot in the second half, destroying Spurs with a fantastic performance.
This is the real Manchester United, and this is what we haven't seen for a while. This season was characterised by caution, by possession and percentage football. Full-blooded all out attack with the forwards popping up all over the pitch - that's what me missed and that's what we got now. About time, too!
Date:Saturday April 25 2009
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AUDIO: Gary Neville Podcast - 21st November (Monday November 23 2015)
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