The afternoon mailbox has plenty more views on the fixture list. Plus, a sublime piece of skill from Emile Heskey, more cool 'ballers and dull football matches...
A Gooner in the Mailbox seems to genuinely think that the world/fixture computer is against his team. Sigh. That, plus more cool footballers & Mike Ashley: Supervillain...
If you have anything to say on any subject, mail us at email@example.com
Welbeck Is The New...
Having read the praise for Danny Welbeck recently, going along the lines of 'he doesn't score much, and his first touch isn't great but he is so committed and won't stop running for the team'.
Is Danny Welbeck, United's version of Dirk Kuyt?
And to think for all those years United fans hated and laughed at the man...
Brandon (Dirk you legend!), LFC, JHB
Sad Ronaldo The Loveable Sociopath
It is a universally acknowledged truth that Ronaldo might be a bit on the egocentric side. It's particularly apparent in his goal celebrations, especially those where he appears to be congratulating a teammate for an assist knowing all the while that the camera will be firmly on him. In my humble, untrained and utterly redundant clinical opinion, I'd wager that the man is something of a sociopath. I love him nonetheless. I am one of those 'fanboys' F365 refers to whenever mention is made of his possible return to Manchester United.
Turning those psychoanalytical skills upon myself, I would say that I'm relatively sane so greeted the Daily Star's various 'exclusives' on a possible return with skepticism bordering on disdain. Last night changed my view somewhat. I honestly think that Ronaldo, knowing that it would require something incredible for us to win, was not taking his chances after he scored Madrid's second goal. He put in an okay performance, but the occasion - and this is Ronaldo I'm talking about - seemed to be taking its toll on him. He got inside a tiring defence a couple of times towards the end, but seemed to lack the ruthless determination to absolutely welly it or cut inside like he has done countless times in the past. A lot also has been said recently about players not celebrating against former clubs, but even after the game (and yes - he would obviously still be aware that the cameras would be on him) he seemed to walk off the pitch with a tinge of regret in his face.
All that said, had he needed to score again I'm damn certain he would tried his hardest. A friend I was with last night was talking about having to put the family dog down. It felt a little like that. He knew what he needed to do, but the hurt was still unbearable. So I'm going to revise my clinical diagnosis. There are things Ronaldo loves other than himself. He's not a sociopath after all. Were it not for the small matter of an audacious transfer fee, astronomical wages, and a contract with a couple of years to run, I reckon he would come back. He may be a ****, but he's our ****, even when he's dumping us out the Champions League.
The Truth About Roo?
It says a lot about the stature of Sir Alex Ferguson that more or less the collective reaction to his axing of Wayne Rooney last night is how this confirms the fall of the 'one-time' wonderboy of Man United and British football.
Very few have raised serious questions about the sheer controversy behind leaving out such a big player. 'One time consider equal in talent to Cristiano Ronaldo, their careers have diverged in opposite directions', one wrote.
Here's a few basic facts to throw into the discussion:
* Wayne Rooney's tally of 11 goals and 9 assists in 1500 minutes of PL football beats the ratio of goal contributions per minute from Robin van Persie, Gareth Bale and Theo Walcott this season. All 20 contributions have come in about 1350 minutes after the horrendous thigh injury suffered in August. That's a decent ratio of a goal contribution every 65th minute or so since the 29th September comeback.
* Since Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney parted ways in 2009, it's Rooney who has played, and scored a wonderful goal, in the Champions League final and it's Rooney who's bang on course for a second league title since, in what is still UEFA's top ranked league. Rooney has also used the time since 2009 to improve his goal rate at Man United massively, to the point where he beats CR7 in direct comparison for goals-per-game ratio with United.
This season, in the Premier League, he looks on course for his most effective season, despite months out with injury. His four goals in a week in Nov/Dec from United trailing at Reading to being 2-0 up at Etihad (CL finals and Etihad derbies are decent 'big games' to perform in?) was arguably the defining point of Man United's season.
So, even Sir Alex can make mistakes from time to time. Did he get it right this time?
At the very least, he should have used Rooney differently (ie, earlier) from the bench once he had make his line-up decision. Putting such a world-class attacking threat on straight after United's goal or the red card would have been a massive statement of intent.
Lars Eidissen, Bluenose and Rooney-lover since 2002
Forget About The Ref, Where Was Van Persie?
I am aware that your mailbox will be filled with thousands of e-mails about Nani's controversial dismissal. Yes, we may think that Cuneyt Cakir's decision to brandish a red card was hugely instrumental to knock Manchester United out from the Champions League.
However, I would like to point out that this disastrous result from The Red Devils can be attributed to disappointing outing of world-class striker Robin van Persie. Seriously, where was he over the two legs? The Dutch centre-forward did not really have a good time against Real Madrid at both Santiago Bernebau and Old Trafford. Surely, we were expecting him to bang one or two goals to change the whole outcome of the match?
In the first leg, if Van Persie took his two chances properly, surely United had better handsome 2-1 (or 3-1) lead before the second leg? And last night, Van Persie also mis-timed his volley completely. If he got the goal in the first half, I am sure that United would be in the quarter-final right now.
So much hype built up around Robin van Persie before the clash. Sadly, he did not really deliver. Instead, it was the old boy Cristiano Ronaldo who pulled the decisive triggers.
Vincentius, Newcastle upon Tyne
(For me, it was a red card. It's not about the intention of the player, it's about what the player actually does to the opponent)
RVP As FTB? Really?
Ah, the age-old denigrate-former-favourite-once-he-has-left routine. Here is just a selection, but equalising goal against Barcelona, winning goal against Roma, crucial goal in Champions League qualifier against Udinese, two home equalisers against Manchester United, last-minute winner at Anfield, equalising and decisive goals in various North London derbies, double against Dortmund in the Champions League, double in the FA Cup semi-final, double away at Chelsea, hat-trick away at Chelsea...but yeah, he only scores against the s**t and we're doing fine without him, thanks very much.
Matt H, Battersea Arsenal
Lacking A Finish
I know I am in the minority, but I am not surprised at the decision last night. In Europe, your foot that high is always going to cause attention. Do I think it was the right decision? Not necessarily as all Nani has tried to do is control the ball with no intent to harm whatsoever. But, based on the rules it was the correct decision although, I don't see how it can be a sending off generally if a player is simply trying to control the ball and that is his absolute only intent.
What got me more was how much the decision changed the game. I felt we were the better team, had created the better chances and had finally taken one. Madrid hadn't played well by their standards and yeah who knows, they could still have won 2-1 or gone through but it would have been a lot harder than what it was. Welbeck (bar finishing) was fantastic and Giggs was just pure class. 87 or something and was running the show for us.
I almost don't know what to be angry about, ref did his job (by the book). selection seemed to work, We played very well. The odd thing is that the main culprit was our finishing in all honesty. Even with ten men we had a number of genuine chances.
So, I know I am probably in the minority but I don't care. I don't even know if this mail makes any sense or if I am just rambling. I will tell you though, it still bloody hurts!
Lee, Manc in London
PS. Credit to Jose for the sub, brought on Modric for Arbeloa and essentially created a free man in midfield. We didn't know how to pick him up, ten mins later game was essentially over.
Musings Of A Spoilt Brat
In the wake of last night's result, and the continuing debate about the red card. I have decided to attempt some rational thought.
* The game was brilliant, it had everything, a finely balanced tactical game, a controversial decision, the polarised actions of each manager in the wake of that decision, and the eventual regrouping of the 'wronged' team in the final 15 min.
* Nani was unlucky, but it shouldn't be such a shock, as Roy Keane (the Ba11bag) said he gave the ref a reason to send him off. He should have known the type of ref he was playing in front of and acted accordingly.
* Jose's whispering, walking off early and post-match interview are exactly why the media love him in the UK, and he knows it. They are also the exact reasons why I cannot stand him.
* Fergie's hulk-esque barging past people in the dugout to scream blue murder at the ref was priceless. And is also the reason why I love him!
* Lee Dixon and Gareth Southgate looked terrified of Roy. As an Irish Man Utd fan I have had very mixed feelings for Roy of late, but last night pushed me over the edge. As I mentioned earlier, ba11bag.
* Who made the decision to put Adrian Chiles as the anchor for ITV Sport? That person needs to take a good long look at themselves.
* This has made LFC fans' season. Just as well, considering the shambles their club is in at the moment.
Mark (Please speak up 'pool fans, it's very hard to hear you from the top of the league) Williamson
* Utd played their socks off for 145mins over the two legs.
* I am confident that with Welbeck turning into a big-game player (a la Fletcher/Park but with more of a physical contribution) and the ever-developing Jones, we have enough graft, steel and youthfulness to put this whole 'Man Utd need a holding midfielder' to bed FOR GOOD.
* The referee and the linesman ruined the game, but Utd's lack of presence up front for the last 20mins was the decisive factor for me.
* Why introduce Young/Valencia to the game, when I thought the game was screaming for a Kagawa and/or Lil Pea magic?
* Rooney's display when he eventually got introduced to the game was average. I have to admit I was more than a little shocked by Fergie's team selection, but it was, AS EVER, fully justified.
* Is Hernandez's career over at Man Utd? Thoughts from the fellow mailers?
* Am I the only one that thought the 'Special One's' post-match comments were belittling and complete tongue in cheek and most definitely NOT respecting Utd?
* The Madrid's reserve keeper was outstanding.
* For all of Giggs' indiscretions off the pitch, a 1000 games later, the guy is exceptional and irreplaceable individual for football. I am proud that he has and will continue to wave his magic wand off and on the pitch for the foreseeable future (but not quite to 50 as Ronaldo has been quoted to had said).
* Sarah Winterburn's article summed up my feelings from last night's result. One of overwhelming feelings of injustice (even for the neutral fan) rather than acceptance of being outclassed by a superior team.
* Ronaldo (CR7). He won't return to Utd. His agent is playing games for more money and probably to ensure that his client did not receive a rough ride last night from the OT faithful. Personally, Ronaldo is the complete player and it was always going to be him that was the difference (regardless of all the Spurs fans having to change their boxers over Modric's influence). This was a game of two legs, Ronaldo scored twice and set up one and that is that.
* There is always next season.
* Keane is now a bitter old tw*t whom once was my boyhood hero...f**k you Roy...you kicked me while I was down and out last night with your sensational views.
* and finally...I will struggle to ever eat turkey again.
Derms MUFC (I was in bed for 9.50pm with two headache tablets)
...As someone who attended the game, here's a few first hand observations
* Danny Welbeck really did step up to the plate last night. He tracked Xabi Alonso's every move, following Mario Gotze's example and completely nullifying the former Liverpool playmaker. This stifled Madrid somewhat and it was no wonder they failed to create many chances in the first 50-odd minutes. As soon as Nani was dismissed, the tactics were forcibly shaken up and the shackles came off Alonso. Modric's arrival exploited the advantage and Madrid dominated for a lengthly spell.
* Ryan Giggs was absolutely phenomenal last night. It was remarkable that he was the most energetic and willing player on the pitch considering that Ronaldo, Ozil, Di Maria, Higuain, Rooney and Kaka were all playing. He chased every cause down and barely put a foot wrong. Which makes it more of a travesty that he's had another opportunity at the Champions League snatched away from him.
* I won't dwell on the red card, nearly everything has been said in relation to it. What I will say is that the response to events from the Old Trafford crowd was magnificent. It tends to be quite flat there, apart from the Stretford End, but last night was tremendous throughout the game and all over the ground. A truly red hot atmosphere which was even further heated by Fergie's rallying after Nani's dismissal. Brilliant stuff and privilege to be part of it.
* The Public Announcer left Ronaldo's name until last when announcing the Madrid starting XI. I do wonder if this was done deliberately to evoke the maximum possible level of adulation (which it did) and overwhelm him, deterring him slightly from the mission at hand. He did seem emotional and probably didn't expect such a rousing reception. All fully deserved though. Inveitably, it was he who was the difference over the two legs.
United Played Like Villa At Old Trafford
Utd were unlucky last night or got what they deserved depending on which club you support. Yes, the referee was harsh in sending Nani off but were United too negative?
To me they played like as if they were Aston Villa going away to Old Trafford, sitting deep and in awe of their oponents. Maybe that's what Fergie felt was their best hope but is that not a damning indictment of a team he has created? Utd started with Carrick, Cleverley, Giggs, Welbeck and Nani as part of their front six and that's simply not good enough.N one of these are bad players and you could maybe get away with having any two of them in your team but if you want to beat the top European sides you need more quality. Would you back any of an ageing Giggs a raw Welbeck or an erratic Nani to produce a the quality late in a game to create or score a goal? Madrid have a galaxy of stars in their squad as have Barca and Bayern that's the standard Utd need to aspire to if they want regular success on these big occasions
Fergie is the master at winning week in, week out in England but alot more class is required on big European nights
Maybe next year Fergie.
Chris P Bacon
Roy Can Stick His Magic Hat Up His Arsenal
Although last night's defeat hurts like hell, I enjoyed the mailbox today as it stirred up a lot of emotions including anger, frustration, sadness, pride and confusion. However, I have to take umbrage with a few of the points being made, especially as the majority of the crazy mails were from ABUs who have a clear vendetta. If you would do me the honour of allowing me to respond using bullet points, as my head is sore and it seems an easier option.
- Please tell me there exists one sane LFC supporter who doesn't think it was a red card. If not, then there is no hope for them at all. Take off the rose-tinted specs people and ask yourself, if Suarez had been in Nani's position with the same outcome, would you still be rejoicing at that great decision? Thought not. That being said, there is of course no guarantee that we'd have won the match.
- Using Keano as a just point of reference is insane. For the last few years Keano has been pedalling his anti-United diatribe because Roy likes to be contrary and controversial. Anyone who read his book will know this. No need to be bitter Roy, you weren't the player you once were and were unsettling the dressing room - you had to go. When Southgate and Townsend are the voice of reason then you know you need help. Just because he says it with more venom doesn't make him right.
- So the players should have done better with 10 men? You do know this isn't Pro Evo and playing against a team with an extra man at that level is extremely difficult? They had already been working hard for over an hour, closing down space and stopping Madrid playing, whilst also providing a threat on the counter. Losing a player made it harder to cut out the supply as they were having to cover more ground and, naturally, could not close down quick enough. Would Modric still have been able to get his shot off? Would Higuain have been afforded the same space to cross? We'll never know. Any United fan who is disappointed with the effort put in by the players or with Fergie's tactics really need a reality check. Any ABUs who think the same can simply be ignored. United aren't built to play like Chelsea.
- It is not a conspiracy, just incompetence.
- A striker who plays for two of the best teams on the planet (club and international) is just a flat-track bully? I remember a time when that phrase was being bandied about in regards to Ronaldo and Messi. Oh, it's the Arsenal fans who think so - enjoy another trophyless season whilst Robin wins a league medal (at least).
- I agree with Mark from Weymouth, Roy's hair is rare; grow old and bitter gracefully Roy! Or at least stick your magic hat on. And before you ask, I would tell him to his face as he's not as hard as he looks...
Garey (proud but disappointed) Vance, MUFC
Dear Sir Alex...
Don't feel too bad about last night. We were a little unlucky and I agree the referee spoiled the game but if we're going to go out of the Champions League, I'd rather it be to a superb Madrid side than anyone else and over the two legs, they were the better team - marginally.
You now have the opportunity to make more history and win yet another 'double'. Do that and then retire a legend at the end of the season. Take the Life Presidency at Manchester United and appoint Jose Mourinho as manager - he'll bring Ronaldo, Ozil and Varane with him.
Ignore the bitter ramblings of Roy Keane and (some) opposition fans who are just jealous not to have been involved in a game between the biggest two clubs on the planet.
You have nothing else to prove.
Chris Wilkinson, MUFC (look out Chelsea, that Turkish Ref has woken a monster...)
A Little Fan
Maybe Paul Little was watching a different game from the rest of us, but I don't see ho Nani, 'not the world's most diligent defender, could have been replaced with Luis Antonio Valencia or Ashley Young' after he had been sent off. United fans already get Fergie time, changing the laws of the game entirely might be a stretch. Also 'instead, United effectively played on with just a midfield three and an increasingly confused Welbeck, unsure of whether to continue tracking Alonso or not, dropping in to try and help out'. What game was he watching? Welbeck got moved into Nani's position so we had our two banks of four, and Alonso was left alone. If there's any criticism it's maybe we could have dropped RVP onto Alonso but Modric was already on the pitch at that stage and he's not big drop of in creative quality from him. So no Welbeck didn't wander about confused, unlike Paul apparently.
Max (enraged MUFC fan) Ireland
Just wanted to add a quick note about how Roy Keane was the best performer at Old Trafford last night. That period where they were having a row about the red card was exactly what I want from pundits, brilliant stuff. If he'd had the insanity beard on I genuinely think Southgate would have made a run for it.
Assuming ITV follow up from the World Cup and get Carragher in there with him next season, Lee Dixon's going to need to beef up a bit.