So, it’s no secret here (I don’t think) that I root for Manchester United. I will continue to do so, barring the team going on some crazy crime spree and poaching all the world’s gorillas.
But Saturday’s loss 2-0 loss at Fulham was an absolute embarrassment. Nevermind the fact that Fulham hadn’t beaten United since a few days before Goldfinger was released. The embarrassment was United’s actions during the game – particularly that of Christiano Ronaldo.
Ronaldo, the European and World Footballer of the Year, pretty much lost all sense of common decency the minute it was apparent that Fulham – placed a respectable ninth currently in the Premier League – wasn’t going to roll over and die, letting United win by say 4-0 and resume its march to a third straight league title after a 4-1 drubbing by Liverpool a week prior.
Instead, Fulham actually had the nerve to try, and got a goal from the spot by Danny Murphy in the 18th minute. That penalty came when Paul Scholes threw up his hands in front of an approaching ball near the goal nas if he was trying to hold off a rambunctious St. Bernard, and got sent off (Scholes, not the St. Bernard).
This dog attacked Paul Scholes.
From then on, it was the Ronaldo show, for all the wrong reasons. Every time he felt he was fouled, touched, breathed on, or in the same postal code with a Fulham player, he whined to the ref. When the man in the middle, Phil Dowd, had enough of his incessant rambling, whining, and what not, Ronaldo turned his attention to the assistant referees. I hear he even wanted to complain to the Metropolitan Police, but was cut off by a pedestrian along the way, fell to the ground looking for a card, and never got there.
But … but … but … I’m Ronaldo!
There’s two points to ponder here. First, from a danger standpoint, Ronaldo was mostly useless in the contest. And it was obvious (at least, I thought it was) that given his attitude and lack of focus, that he wasn’t going to bring anything into the side for the day. There was a short spell of better work in the second half, but eventually Fulham got a nicely taken second goal to seal the deal. I guess it can’t be argued that Sir Alex Ferguson should have taken Ronaldo out of the game. He is supposed to be the world’s best player, and such an action would surely send the British media into a tizzy about it somehow being a signal that Ronaldo was in fact headed to Real Madrid.
So scratch that idea. But beyond that, Ronaldo’s actions and whining had to wear thin on Dowd. It also had to rub off on his teammates. Late in the match, United’s Wayne Rooney was sent off for a second bookable offense (in 8 minutes) after rifling the ball back to where it needed to be for a United free kick. It wasn’t as if he was time wasting or protesting the call, so I’m not sure the second yellow was warranted. But if you’re Dowd … why not? He had to deal with Ronaldo all day and while I’m sure there was no bias, the dude is only human.
Two cards in 8 minutes. Well done, lad.
So United finished with nine with Scholes and Rooney off – but that Ronaldo’s head clearly wasn’t in the game, nine might be a stretch.
It isn’t as if this is the first time Ronaldo has acted this way. But something about it on Saturday really made me sick. His team is trying to fight off a growing Liverpool charge for the league title, and Ronaldo is sulking around the pitch like a kid whose Power Rangers just got flushed down the toilet in a horrible misunderstanding.
It had to make most United fans think, “Man, I’d like to beat some sense into him.”
Well, it’s not exactly the same thing, but you’re welcome. If you play the game poorly enough, you can pretty much beat the hell out of him.