You might notice that we haven't included a single mail about teams in pubs, because most of them were terrible. Instead we have a disgruntled Fulham fan and Scouse maths...
Villa are the latest team to get the pub treatment, while the morning mailbox also includes missives on Tony Pulis leaving Stoke and Chelsea's future under Jose Mourinho...
If you have anything to say on any subject, mail us at email@example.com
One Of Many
So, Mourinho does want the Man Utd job then.
Seb Morrison, Bournemouth
It Was A Red Card
Let's look at the FACTS:
- going in for a challenge with both feet off the ground.
- studs showing.
- endangering an an opposing player.
Doesn't this all add up to a red card? So why the surprise with Nani's sending-off? What if it were a Stoke player who had committed the offence?
Amo Singh (in all seriousness, at 2-1 I still thought the Mancs might do it), LFC
...Quotes from Man United fans I've just seen on Twitter and Facebook:
'What an utter disgrace.'
'Worst decision I've ever seen'
'Ref ruins beautiful game again'
Erm...it was a dangerous challenge no? Had Arbeloa not been jumping his head would've been taken off! Surely definition of reckless, given he was off the ground and thus has no control of his momentum or movement anymore?
Glad Roy Keane is not only in agreement with me but also defending his view aggressively!
...I think it was a definite sending-off as it was a dangerous piece of play. As Roy Keane pointed out, did he think he had right to control that ball and not have any other players around him!
United have in the past had many decisions go for them which were 50/50 and they benefited from them so this time it went against them, so live with it.
David Moyes on 5 Live said that the players had a right to surround the ref at full time. What ever happened to respect? If managers say that then you can hardly blame just the players for the Lack of respect shown to officials.
Sohail Patel, LFC (I predicted 2-1 to Madrid in my last email but did not get published)
...Before we all have to trawl through dozens of boring mails about how the ref spoiled the game, it was a dangerous high challenge and a red card was the correct decision...(Grabs tin hat). Harsh but correct.
It wasn't the referee's fault that Man U immediately decided to defend with ten men camped on the edge of the box with no outlet to relieve the incessant pressure. After the second Real goal United more than matched them, it was just a shame that they had such an inferiority complex which led them to retreat into their collective shells. It appears the only way English teams can beat the top European sides is by camping in their own box.
What did Rooney do when he came on apart from constantly give the ball away? Good decision not to start him. Oh and it wasn't a bad performance by that 'dodgy' second-choice Real keeper, was it?
Jamie Bedwell (Spoiled the game blah blah), Cheltenhamshire
Right Back Atcha
It was a harsh sending-off - no doubt about it. I was going to write in with my commiserations to the Manyoo fans when I remembered a couple of years ago when we were in a winning position against Barcelona with about half an hour to go (sound familiar?) and RVP got sent off with a decision that was even more ridiculous than the Nani one. The general consensus amongst non-Arsenal fans was that Barca were a better team so we should quiet down and suck it up. Well, right back at you.
Adonis (I can't beleive it took 85 minutes for Clive to mention that night in Barcelona) Stevenson, AFC
Would Real Have Moaned?
I can't believe the amount of people (mainly ABU's and Roy Keane) that are defending the ref's decision in tonight's game. In order to refute such nonsense ask yourself this question: what if the ref had just booked him? If he had made the correct decision, you can bet your bottom dollar none of the Real players would have been up in arms, crying about the injustice of it all and how it was a clear red; they'd have just got on with the game. Everyone looked surprised when the red came out. Similarly, the incident wouldn't have even warranted mention after the match; no one would be saying that United were really fortunate that Nani stayed on the pitch. Nani caught someone unintentionally with a high foot and rightly got booked, which would warrant a line at most in the following morning's papers.
Well done though, boys, you did the fans proud tonight. Ahead and comfortable until the ref cocked it all up, and with one or two ropey decisions in the first leg (namely Varane's last man challenge) we count ourselves hugely unlucky to be out.
Lewis, Busby Way
A Game-Changing Decision?
I'm sure your mailbox is flooded with mails on how the ref changed the match with the red card. But as far as I can see, the ref already changed the match 30 minutes before that when he disallowed Gonzalo Higuain's goal. A goal that would have put Madrid ahead and, for the first time in two legs, would have forced United to come out and attack the best counter-attacking team in Europe. Ramos' foul on Van Persie was just as contentious as Nani's high boot and, had it been given, would have impacted the game just as significantly.
Mark (Don't worry England, Arsenal got this) Quane
Red Card Didn't Cost The Game
I don't envy your having to wade through the myriad e-mails that are surely already flooding your inbox. Man U fans will be incensed with the ref's decision, and I can understand their frustration. "There was clearly no intent," they're doubtless whinging. "He didn't even know Arbeloa was there."
They're right. But guess what....it doesn't matter. Any time you go in for the ball with a foot that high and studs showing, you'd damn well better know who's around you. Nani was reckless, and the ref made a call. Another ref on another day may have called it a yellow, but the decision certainly wasn't the travesty of justice that Red Devil fans are making it out to be. Maybe they've been spoiled by a few too many games under the all-forgiving eyes of Howard Webb.
Their bigger concern should be the way they crumpled after the card. In the first half they were a picture of composure, sitting deeper than usual but constantly pressing Madrid in their defensive half, and counter-attacking with pace and verve. They lost an attacking outlet when Nani was dismissed, but all they needed to do was maintain that same composure. Instead they sat back and began inviting pressure from a reinforced Madrid midfield, allowing Modric ample space to shoot moments before Rafael completely shut off to let Ronaldo slip in at the back post.
Champions are forged in the fires of adversity. Man U in the '99 final. Liverpool in 2005. Chelsea, away to Barca, in last year's semis. These teams rallied around each other and succeeded in the face of impossible odds. Man U fell short of that standard and let their chance slip away. They can blame the ref all they want, but it's no one's fault but their own.
...I imagine a lot of mails this morning are going to be bemoaning the Nani red card and how it decided the outcome of the game. Ignoring the gorgeous irony of Man United fans complaining about decisions at Old Trafford, I'd like to offer the point of view that the red card didn't decide the outcome of the game, Luka Modric did.
As a Spurs fan, that hurts a lot to say. I've felt a great deal of schadenfreude at seeing him waste away on Madrid's bench (I did try to warn him before he left) but last night the man voted Marca's worst signing of the summer was magnificent. The tiny maestro shimmying around players, playing inch-perfect passes with the outside of his foot, mopping up possession all over the pitch and just generally driving Madrid forward brought back painful memories of his time with Spurs. As he collected the ball on the edge of the box and slid past Carrick as if he weren't there I turned to my friend and said "his performance so far has really deserved a.." and before the word "goal" was out of my mouth he rifled the leveller in off the post.
Modric's strengths were perhaps much easier to spot as the big fish in Tottenham's much smaller pond, as he was the metronome; dictating all Spurs attacks. Scott Parker's job was made simple by just having to offload the ball to him and attacks began to form. At Real where he certainly isn't the main man he has struggled to prove his ability to control games. There are certainly some parallels to be drawn there for Gareth Bale.
Will, THFC (Modric >>>>> Wilshere)
...I'm sure there will be thousands of emails flooding the mailbox right now about how United were robbed and how unfair the result was. I understand that you're upset, as it was clearly not a red, but you should be more disappointed in your clubs reaction to the decision than the red card itself. When United were reduced to ten men, they were up an away goal with 40 minutes to hang on. They were already super compact and weren't committing anyone forward, so losing a winger who normally can't be bothered to track back and dig defensively isn't the worst thing in the world. Last year, Chelsea lost their captain and arguably their most important defender 35 minutes into the game level with Barcelona. Although they conceded shortly after, much like United, they managed to re-group, score two goals and hold the most potent offense on the planet scoreless for the next 45 minutes. Instead of staying organised and fighting to the end like Chelsea, United roll over and died.
All we ever hear from the all of the sycophants is how United is so experienced, composed, mentally tough, determined, ect., ect. Well none of those traits seemed to show through today as we watched ten men feel sorry for themselves and p**s away an away goal advantage after something didn't go their way. United fans should be embarrassed by the way their team handled adversity today.
David CFC, Tampa (The better team went through to be fair... try mixing in a goal from open play next time)
Let's Get Over It
Have ManU ever got a positive result at Old Trafford because of a dubious refereeing decision in a big game?
Annoying but let's get over it, we were too defensive in both legs from the start.
Some Conclusions From The Game
* I was surprised by the team Fergie put out. Couldn't think of why a 39-year-old would be starting a game in which United needed to quickly and repeatedly break on the counter with speed. Couldn't think of why a youngster like Welbeck who has almost no goal threat (other than the occasional strike) starts ahead of Rooney. And couldn't understand why Nani, with his sporadic consistency, would start ahead of Kagawa, who seems to have just hit form. But right until the red card (more on that), all three really justified their inclusion.
* Giggs - what a legend. Every time he lost the ball, he ran back to regain possession. Every counter seemed to have Giggs playing a part.
* Welbeck may not be a consistent goalscorer, but I can see why SAF plays him so often. He works his socks off, every game. He certainly does lack a good first touch, he is rather profligate, but he adds a lot more to the team by his runs, his spirit and his determination.
* Nani, too, until his sending-off, was pretty good. Played in some decent passes and got a goal for Man Utd.
* The red card. I'm sure there are going to be a lot of mails on this, but here's my opinion. That cannot be a red. Irrespective of the players on the pitch not expecting it (no Real player asked for a card), irrespective of the spectators not making a noise until the card itself came out...holy crap, just look at it. Nani wasn't even looking at the other player. He challenged for the ball. At worst, that's a yellow.
* That being said, I found it annoying that the commentators were talking about how the referee had an 'agenda'. Oh come on, that's bullsh*t. No referee at that level would go into a game with a freaking agenda. Sure enough, he's made a crappy decision, but he called it as he saw it, and I think he's made a mistake. But an 'agenda'? Really?
* On a website not too far from here, I read an article about how Fergie's not really a good tactician. Forget the number of titles he's won, tonight's match, on its own, proves that he's still got it, the fox. He got the tactics spot on, and until the woeful red card, United had the better chances, willingly conceding possession.
* As a United supporter, there's only one positive. No f***ing way are we going to lose the league now.
...- The red card was a triumph of typical continental officiousness. Foul? Certainly. Red card? Only in the depths of the mind of a uniquely incompetant, card happy Turk. Nani still shouldn't have given the referee a decision to make.
- Still, at least Cuynet Cukir's name doesn't lend itself to any pejorative adaptations.
- Joking aside, the standard of refereeing in UEFA competitions really isn't great. The introduction of replays is, in itself, a good idea, but a more general drive to improve standards would be more worthwhile. Far too many ties (often involving Barca or Madrid) are affected by dubious and severe dismissals.
- Welbeck, Cleverley and Rafael all looked at home at this level. Tactically, technically and mentally they all applied themselves well, and looked equal to the occassion and their opponents.
- Pre-dismissal, Fergie looked set to replicate the 2008 tie against Barca. It's gratifying to see that he (and, more saliently, the United coaching team) are still able to conceive and execute plans at this level. Still not convinced that Phelan is necessarily the best man to be Fergie's assistant.
- I really do love Danny Welbeck: the decision-making, finishing and polish will come, but he looks to be an extraordinary player (if only Hernandez' eye for goal could be extracted and trasferred like Mohammed's goo in South Park).
- I appreciate that the match was probably lost anyway, but why the bloody hell was Ashley Young brought on instead of Hernandez or Kagawa? Madrid legs noticably failed to quiver as the least penetrative winger since Dirk Kuyt ambled inoffensively onto the pitch. Did anybody really expect to create or score a goal.
- On one level, Ronaldo and Ronaldo alone was the difference in this tie. Had he played for United, I would have expected the results to have been reversed.
- Otherwise, both teams looked relatively well matched. De Gea and Lopez both excelled away from home, both sets of strikers failed to make an impact, both registi were identified as a threat and closed down etc.
- I hope Ashley Young and Valencia looked at Ronaldo over both legs, and were reminded of quite how monumentally sub-standard they are. United have good talent emerging in most other positions, but we depserately need a decent winger.
- Great tie, great teams, smattering of great players. F***ing awful kits. Not sure which was less appealling, gingham red picnic rug or school blazer green.
- I really pity Chelsea this weekend. I suspect more than a little frustration will be vented.
...So as a neutral let me just add a few quick thoughts regarding the Man U v Real game:
- Man Utd were definitely the better team up until the red card, it was an extremely harsh decision although...
- Look this isn't defending the red card, but John Terry got red carded against Barcelona last year (by the same referee interestingly enough...) and Chelsea responded by parking the bus and then going on to deservedly win the game.
- On the other hand Man Utd were seething rage after the decision (understandably) and then seemed to lose their cool. I'm not going to pretend that defending against a team as good as Real Madrid is easy, but you're 1-0 up at home and an away goal with 2/3 of the game elapsed, you'd expect a team as good as Man Utd to adapt and be able to hold on at least for extra time. Instead the emotions got the better of them and two successive goals and an outstanding goalkeeping performance by Diego Lopez were just enough for Real.
- Speaking of Diego Lopez, how underrated is this man? I don't fully understand why someone as talented as him is content with being second fiddle to Casillas. He could be the first-choice goalkeeper at just about any club, but to be fair I've only see him play a handful of games so this may be an overreaction.
- I believe the pundits on Fox Soccer channel said that there was no intent and that he was looking at the ball on the Nani high-studs challenge perhaps 500 times in 10 minutes. Look, terrible decision yes, but it's rather easy to dissect a decision after watching it in slow motion from 10 different camera angles and then do your best impression of an armchair expert. The referee had to make a decision based on a very quick exchange with Nani looking away from him, he should've given a yellow if he wasn't 100% sure but stop with the hyperbole. Some of them can barely commentate but now they're all master referees, same goes for some of the angry mails you will no doubt receive.
CB (Wasn't as good as a game as I had hoped, but entertaining none the less) West Palm Beach, FL
...Just a few conclusions on the game...
* RVP has one of the best volleys of a ball I've ever seen. He fluffed two or three decent volley chances over the two legs. I'm a big fan but he fluffed his lines big time; dare I say he choked.
* Nigel de Jong watched Nani's tackle somewhere and had a beautiful personal moment reminiscing about Xabi Alonso's rib cage.
* Nani was possibly reckless, possibly out of control. It was definitely a yellow card. People saying it wasn't even a yellow need to get a grip.
* If I had tackled someone like Nani did, I'd be raging to get a red card. If it was done to me, I'd demand a red card. Gun to my head, I'd have to lean towards saying it was a harsh decision.
* Arbeloa did a pirouette in the air? Obviously he did, momentum etc. Can't give him a doing for play-acting.
* United have too many players who are at a slightly lower level than they need if they are to win a CL. Welbeck, Valencia, Young, Rafael (his daydreaming for the second goal should be highlighted more), Cleverley, etc. I wouldn't call them passengers, but I nearly would.
* Modric and Kaka spend a lot of time on the bench. That's a real shame.
* Varane made a big mistake for the goal but I think he'll be a beast of a player in the future.
* All hypothetical, but I think Rooney should have started. I'd like to have seen Kagawa from the start too.
* Ronaldo was selfish towards the end. Perhaps if he was more of a team player, more people would consider him no.1 in the never ending debate.
* Best League in the World?? You're having a laugh.
* Mourinho's post-match interview was like a job interview for the Utd job. Why did he leave early? All eyes on me please!!
Fitzy, (Dortmund must be everyone's second favourite team) Eire
...1. Any team that has less than 40% possession at home in a Champions League knock-out tie is going to struggle to progress. This stat swung back towards United after Real took the lead as Mourinho's side reverted to type and went more defensive, but it was embarrassing how much better Madrid were at holding onto the ball on away turf. For Mourinho to suggest the better team lost is surely some clever downplaying of his team's prospects on his part. Ok the sending-off gave Real the chance to make their dominance of the ball count, but it seemed inevitable they would've at least scored when it was 11 vs 11. English sides have well and truly been exposed for their tactical naivety of late, the Spanish and Germans are streets ahead.
2. How much did United miss some strength in depth on the bench in more defence-minded options, and in particular ball-playing midfielders (i.e. Scholes)? Having had someone on the bench at least to bring on to keep the ball when they went down to ten men could've made all the difference. All The unintelligible One's subs were attack-minded players bar Evans, which was why when Nani was sent off there was no real option to shore things up and he had no choice but to leave Welbeck on, who was having a good game but wouldn't plug any gaps in midfield.
3. Contender for punditry of the season from Roy Keane. Instead of the expected defence of all things red, to see him argue with the rest of the muppets in the studio regarding Nani's red card was priceless. Watching Southgate flounder in his defence that 'if there's no intention then it's not a red' being blown to pieces by Roy's cutting assertion that intention is irrelevant was fantastic TV. His earlier comments about how 'the writing may be on the wall' for Rooney also gave some insight into the mentality of the man. Chilling, I wonder if Southgate and co ended up with Shepherd's Pie in their trousers, cos I sure do just watching Keano!
Nick (not going to suggest Wednesday were 'cheated' at Watford last night with our massive 42% possession) Oswald
But Fergie Failed To React...
There might be a lot of cussing and cribbing about the most batsh#t mental red card ever seen. And understandably so. It ruined an almost-perfect performance and an equally brilliant match.
However, the fact remains that one manager knew how to react to the externality and the other did not. While United might have the best points tally and all that in the Premier League, they are quite simply nothing against a pressing/passing team. And one sublime passing player wreaked havoc after coming on. Did Fergie really think a team of ten men could stop Luka Modric and co. ?
Bala (Cussing and Cribbing) MUFC
...Well they say decisions influence matches and last/tonight was certainly another of those. Around 59 minutes a massive decision did just that. No I do not mean the red card, I said to my dad the second the challenge went in that Nani was about to walk, he did not believe me, neither did ITV it would appear. But no the BIG decision was to not immediately throw on the energetic Wayne Rooney for the old and slow Ryan Giggs. United clearly were going to need energy to press Madrid for the next half an hour. Wayne has the legs and commitment to do that and also the talent to actually break when United have the ball. It was the 72nd minute before Fergie finally and belatedly made his move. Too little way too late and even then staggered changes not wholesale let's go for it.
Am I the only one who thought that except for ten minutes just before half-time Giggs did absolutely nothing bar wild tackles (yellow early, should really have walked just before half time for a wild tackle from behind on Ronny) constantly slow down United's counter-attacks and generally not be up to the pace of the game. The ITV commentary was still full of never-ending praise regardless of his performance. So in summary poor decisions from Fergie, poor play from Giggs and what has happened to Van the Man? Missed sitters in the first leg and never looked a threat all night. And I feel sorry for Rafael who was pretty good, yes I know he was a bit asleep for Ronny's goal but Giggs did nothing to cover him or offer an outlet when in possession and De Gea who did nothing wrong and could do nothing for either goal. And Vidic was mightily unlucky to not score twice.
Side note, gotta love Jose. The best team did not win. Well I'm afraid they did as when it came time to step up and make the big decisions Jose rolled the dice and gambled whereas Fergie stuck and lost. Also kudos to Keane for being the only pundit to tell it like it is. It was always likely to be a red, deal with it and move on.
Lewis the Blade
A Brief Football Orgasm
I am sure you would get a bunch of mails about the Nani red card (not a red IMO) but I want to talk about what happened in the aftermath of that. Modric came on, United decided to sit back and the result - playing in front of the United bus were Modric, Ozil and Alonso, three of the most creative players in the Real Madrid squad. The movement, skill and passing ability of these three was enough to give us 'technical football' lovers a brief football orgasm with Ozil's lovely backheel in the build up to the Ronaldo goal being the point of climax. Too bad it only lasted for 12 minutes.
Fergie's Biggest Mistake
People were banging on about Fergie dropping Rooney but for me the biggest error was not playing van Persie in either game. What was he thinking?
Jaimie (in no way bitter Arsenal fan) Kaffash, London
...Theres the Robin van Persie all us Gooners know. Flat-track bully against rubbish teams (including Arsenal this season)...
Anonymous when a massive team comes to town.
Sam (Arsenal last British team in European Cup! Ha) Gooner
Thinking It's Kind Of Funny
Man U - going down to ten men should not mean you stick nine of them around the penalty area and hope for the best. You are much, much better than that but didn't believe in yourselves. Well done for the last 10 minutes though, and the support was magnificent (but when did we start whistling whenever the opposition has the ball, it must be exhausting and seems pointless.)
Fat middle-aged bald man - running to hurl abuse at Mourinho as he walks off the pitch makes you look very silly. What would your mother say?
Rio - clapping the referee in his face should be a sending-off. Pathetically petulant for a middle-aged man.
David Moyes - the players do not have 'every right' to surround the referee at the end.
Adrian Chiles - 'take a bow referee' - honestly, that is infantile. Perhaps you could note the world-class goals that were scored by Real.
Roy Keane - what a pleasant surprise to find a panellist that thinks that the referee should apply the laws of the game.
Lee Dixon and Gareth Southgate - I don't think you need to look quite so scared when you realise Roy disagrees with you. And Lee...the referee does not need to look at the decision from a footballer's point of view.
BBC - thank you, thank you for giving us one day off from Robbie bloody Savage.
What a fun evening. I haven't even seen a SAF interview yet!
A Victim Complex. And Rio...
Firstly - must English football constantly surround themselves with this victim complex? It's bad enough with the National team every two years; must we really sit through it every week in the Champions League? Adrian Chiles' comments just after the game would suggest a Tom Henning Obrevo esque performance robbed United of the result, not a decision which is 50/50 by law.
The 'eyes on the ball' defence is completely pathetic, the referees go by the law, which states along the lines of dangerous play, doesn't mention intent or 'eyes' - he deemed it as dangerous play, your problem is with Fifa, not the referee.
Also, a completely unsurprising lack of comment on the handball by Rafael on the line blocking a goal, and the build up to the United goal RVP could of been adjudged offside; but yes, English teams are always the victim of this 'conspiracy'.
Secondly - can someone PLEASE run up to Rio Ferdinand after he next makes his defensive mistake and clap in his face like that? What a complete w*nker.
Josh - I quite like Modric now since he's left Tottenham, funny that
This Was Truly Embarrassing
Really hope Tyldesley and Townsend are feeling a bit silly after labeling Diego Lopez as someone who "clearly looks like a second string goalkeeper". That he is, sure, but the way they spoke about him in the early stages of the game was as if to say United should be beating him with every shot. This despite reading the notes of how far he's been in European competitions and what a good career he's had. Anyone who's watched any Real games over the past few weeks would know that he's a quality goalkeeper who has never looked like a weak link.
The Big Issue
Regardless of the result, what the hell has happened to Roy Keane's hair? ITV must have worked some boot polish deal into his contract
Does having a soft spot for Dortmund automatically make one a football hipster? I am a Stoke fan so surely this cancels it out, nein?
Hulmy, Ein Stokie in Brum