First things first.
I was impressed with the teams overall performance. Some weaknesses continue to be evident such as Nani’s lack of team ethic, Hernandez letting himself be bullied around. But no one had bad game. Van Der Sar pulled off one of his best saves ever in the first half, the defence was solid, the midfield harrying and the attack, especially Berba, ran around nicely. Good to see that from the previously apathetic Bulgarian. Vidic took his goal well, United having a drought of set-piece goals lately.
It was a nice open game, good to watch. Spurs played well, despite their injury problems. Keane shouldn’t have been on the team, but I’ve made my feelings clear on him previously.
And then there was the second goal.
Ref had a bad game before that. And his linemen. A lot of pushing, pulling and shoving let go. Hernandez was being flung around by Spurs defenders and was given no protection. Balls went over lines and were judged to be in play. Bad tackles and rough play were deemed acceptable.
If this had been a grudge match, say United-City, it would have been a bloodbath with a Ref like that. He simply had no control over the game, or either team.
And then the goal. A catalogue of error there. Firstly, giving no penalty for the shirtpull (and it wasn’t the first time in the game). Then Nani went down, handling the ball in the process. If you don’t give a penalty for that, it should be viewed as a dive and a yellow cad. None given. The handball not spotted. No free given.
So then you had Gomez throwing the ball out as if he had a free. No reason for him not to think that. Nani stands next to the ball and, to his credit actually, makes sure the Ref OKs it before he kicks it into the net.
So, you have this situation where the Linesmen has his flag up for an infringement. The obvious one here is that it was a free to Spurs and Nani had no right the kick the ball. But the Ref had signalled for no free so no infringement existed to be called, not in the Ref’s eyes. I think that’s where the Ref/Linesmen debate came from. The Linesman thought a free had been awarded, the Ref hadn’t, so even though the Linesmen presumably explained the previous handball, the Ref’s hands, under the current rules system, were tied. He can’t apply a free retroactively having commenced play.
So, video evidence yet?
This would all be bigger deal if the scores had been level at the time. I do, despite my obvious favor for United, think that we were the better team. We made more chances, and took one of ours. And with only a few minutes left anyway, it’s far more likely we were heading towards 3 points anyway.
I say all this because of ESPN. I was willing to shrug it off as my own skewed perspective before, but not anymore. They don’t like Man United. I don’t know why. The second that goal went in, the knives came out.
As far as they were concerned, Spurs seemed to have been robbed of an inevitable victory. It was the usual moronic nonsense: First it should have been a penalty then Nani should have been booked. Suddenly, they were talking about how Spurs have been consistently screwed at all Old Trafford as if some sort of bizarre conspiracy exists. That 5-2 result 2 years ago? Pfft, one of the goals shouldn’t have been allowed so it was an “injustice”. Some hand ball thing from 4 years ago brought up. That Roy Carroll fiasco a few years ago, a season when United won nothing.
And then lies. Outright, bald-faced lies. “The Ref wasn’t even looking, how can he give it”…just as the video shows the Ref looking at every part of the incident from start to finish. They’re watching the same TV we are. They saw that, but wanted it to seem worse for United.
And then at the end – “Spurs matched them all throughout the game…this result is an injustice”. Except for the fact that we were winning for most of the game. Last I checked, that was the benchmark for who the better team was.
It’s irritating to hear and its not the first time. ESPN are downright gleeful whenever United are losing/drawing and are scant with praise when we win. I was willing to pass it off as “favour the underdog” thing, but I’m not so sure anymore. Well, they’ve lost one customer anyway.