Date:Friday February 1 2008
I still owe Ronaldo an apology. I had stated long ago that he could not score free-kicks and should not be allowed to take all of them all the time. Well, he proved me wrong many times.
Sporting, Sunderland, Pompey... wonderful free-kicks, with the last being the most stunning. United would have won the game against Portsmouth without that, no question - we were at our free-flowing, energetic, fluid best in the first half - but it was one of those goals that you'll never forget.
His first was, in fact, magnificent, too: Scholes' pass, the way Ronaldo chested it down to Nani, the younger Portuguese's lob to his older compatriot and the cool and composed finish beyond David James... but the second one, three minutes later stole the headlines.
There is much speculation about how he does it: hitting the valve or some other part of the ball, or is it simply practice? He does not wish to reveal how he makes the ball swerve and dip and rocket into the net.
'The secret? I will not reveal it, for I would be giving a trump card to my opponents,' he said.
'I can state only the success or failure at the moment of taking the free-kick is directly related to the position of the body, the way one runs towards the ball and the way one positions one's feet. At that moment, I think only about which side of the net I'm going to aim for.
'I look at the ball, I look at the net and I say to myself 'take the kick, Ronaldo', then I shoot. Sometimes it ends well, sometimes not so well.'
It ended well, and Fergie could afford the luxury of substituting him and Rooney twenty minutes from time, to hearty applause from all corners of the stadium. The magnificent Scholes, starting his first game since his knee operation, had already been sat at the bench by that time, after a display of fantastic passing.
The Ginger Ninja is not fit enough to last 90 minutes just now and I think the wise move would be to put him on the bench for Saturday, for the visit to Tottenham. But, as I stated before Wednesday's game, Scholes's return could be a huge boost and what I saw during the 60 minutes he spent on the pitch reinforced my belief that he will be a lethal weapon in our quest for trophies.
Date:Friday February 1 2008
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