I’m not quite sure how Alan Smith had imagined his return to Old Trafford. Maybe he thought Newcastle would hold their own away to the Champions, sticking together on the pitch after all the disruption off it. Maybe he thought he could get his first goal for Newcastle against his former club, and celebrate in an understated manner, to show the respect he still had for United fans. Maybe he thought Newcastle could hold out for a draw, and he’d get subbed before the end and applaud the Stretford End.
I think it’s safe to say that however Smith imagined yesterday playing out, it didn’t go to plan.
Alan Smith caught Ronaldo outside the area at the start of the second half, conceding a freekick. Ronaldo hit the ball straight along the ground, Smith jumping over the ball, allowing it to creep in past Given. 1-0.
For the third goal, Carrick pinched the ball from Smith, played it through to Rooney, who laid off Tevez, who provided Ronaldo with the opportunity to show off his skill, and slot the ball away.
At 6-0, it appeared as though Smith’s return couldn’t get any worse. Then, he laid in to the referee, claiming that Tevez’s second and United’s sixth hadn’t actually crossed the line. Whether it had crossed or not, did it really make a difference Alan? Is 6-0 really so much worse than 5-0? Whilst United fans celebrated for the sixth time, Alan Smith started to make his way for the tunnel, sent off for crossed words with the ref.
Smithy was probably too angry, too embarrassed, to notice the reaction of the crowd. We applauded him off the park, singing his name, as he kept his head down, chunnering away to himself.
Before the match, Alan Smith reflected on his time at Old Trafford and what Saturday would mean to him. “The fans were brilliant with me and I had a great time there,” he said. “I never got a good chance to say goodbye to the fans. Hopefully I will get a chance on Saturday.”
It was hardly the dream send off for Alan Smith, but regardless, it was nice to have you back Smithy.