Monday, February 27, 2006

In Ruud health!

I never thought I'd be this happy after a Milk Cup Final, and while I wasn't quite dancing on tables as happened back in 1999, I still savoured every moment of it. With the exception of the new, low quality sausages and bacon that they served at the pub.

The performances of Wes Brown, Rooney and Ronaldo were marvellous, as was the effort put in by Louis Saha, despite the fact that he scored his goal quite by accident. Naturally, the media had a tough time praising Ronaldo, which is really just sad. His skills were a delight to behold, and he repeatedly tore Wigan apart.

It was interesting that he has been castigated for his little keepy-uppy party-trick in the second half - frankly I would be thrilled to see more such sublime ball skills. Apparently it's okay to indulge in fancy skills if your name is Robinho, or Thierry Henry, but should you play for United, then you're just insulting the opposition. Of course, I wouldn't expect ABU commentators to have noticed that Ronaldo has pulled of similar stunts at 0-0. It's up to the opposition to tackle him, if they can.

Most interesting of all though, has been the reaction to Ruud's day out on the substitute's bench. It's not the first time Sir Alex has benched him, and nor will it be the last. I for one thought it was an entirely appropriate decision, and there's no question it was justified. Rooney, Ronaldo, Saha and Park were just a bit too much for Wigan's middle-aged back four.

What's more, I thought Ruud handled it superbly. He was a keen spectator throughout the game, and displayed nothing but complete support for United from the first kick to the last. Yes, he was upset to have not got a run out; and yes, he left the pitch after just one lap of honour. And what was wrong with that? For all the great things he has done for this club, it was the lads on the pitch who merited the glory on the day. I would hope that any self-respecting footballer would also be upset were they not in the playing XI for a Cup Final. Doesn't mean that they're all going to quit and move to Spain.

It's onwards and forwards now. With any luck, we'll seal 2nd place, get in a few games for Rossi, Pique, Bardsley, Eagles, Jones and a few others, and be very well positioned for a true assault on the title in 2006-07. Naturally, I'm not giving up on Chelsea dropping 5 games until it's no longer mathematically possible, but I can't claim to being too optimistic on that front.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great analysis and totally on the money.

I agree with the point on Ruud and don't get what all the fuss is about. I saw him thrilled when we scored our 2nd goal and he was genuinely happy for the younger lads when they won the cup. He left the field so let them enjoy their moment of glory. What more could Ruud have done to show his absolute commitment?

I also think that people show SAF too little respect. Playing Saha was the ethical, noble and correct thing to do but only a man of courage and class would take such a decision. The press don't have the balls or the ethics to see that or ever take such decisions. Similarly, SAF’s tactic of giving Richardson, Vidic and Evra a taste was a masterstroke management skill and will reaps dividends. Ruud is already a thorough bred champion, our new and younger players need to taste what it feels like so they can take the next step.

Having supported United since the days of Big Fat Ron, I've seen us go through the cycle of success, innovation, renovation and then success again. And every single sigh is there that SAF will do it again. The Chelsea effect means that SAF can't buy all the players he needs, in the order he needs them in. So, yes, while he has not been able to get that world class midfielder yet, he has stocked up the squad with the resilience and depth it requires. Ideally, he should have got the world class player first, but that hasn't been possible. So what was he meant to do, stop regenerating his squad.

Some United fans really frustrate me. SAF is a genius. He created success after success for us fans and I for one have enjoyed every moment of his leadership. If he got us relegated, it shouldn't matter, because after all he has achieved, it is his absolute right to expect and get complete and unconditional support.

And he has mine.