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Following Middlesbrough ‘Ronaldo-like’ Behaviour, Fergie Makes The Peace

Cristiano Ronaldo was awarded a penalty against Middlesbrough the season before last. Had Ronaldo stayed on his feet, he would have had an open net to score in. He was unable to stay on his feet, won a penalty, and Louis Saha got the glory as the goalscorer.

Whilst Mark Schwarzer did not make any contact with Ronaldo, however as he charged out of the area, also not making any contact on the ball, our winger was thrown off balance. It wouldn’t take a genius to work out that Ronaldo would have liked to score the goal himself. Video replay shows Ronaldo stumbling, trying to stay on his feet, before eventually falling.

Regardless, Gareth Southgate, football’s answer the nerdy kid that got bullied at school, let rip on Ronaldo after the game.

“Ronaldo has a history of it,” Southgate said. “Our keeper has done everything to get out of the way, but the lad has gone down once again.”

Asked if he felt cheated by Ronaldo, Southgate said: “Yes – it’s as simple as that. I cannot see it was a penalty for love nor money. He did it again afterwards with a free-kick against George Boateng.”

But then later, Southgate changed his mind…

United won that game 2-1 at the Riverside, Morrison equalising for Boro before Darren Fletcher scored our winner. The back pages the following day showed Ronaldo’s face with “CHEAT!” written over it.

A couple of months later, United faced Middlesbrough in the FA Cup. In the BBC’s preview for the game, Southgate was interviewed. He was asked about Ronaldo. He claimed that upon viewing the footage after the game, he conceded that it wasn’t a dive. He still believed the referee to be wrong in awarding a penalty, but acknowledged that Ronaldo had tried to stay on his feet.

It took him three fucking months to say this. There was no apology for his harsh assessment of our player, that had been splashed all over the papers and it had taken him three months to admit his mistake. The acknowledgement of his mistake of course did not receive much, if any, media attention.

I wish Ferguson had given an equally harsh assessment of Boro captain, Emanuel Pogatetz, after his horrendous challenge on our young midfielder, Rodrigo Possebon. Pogatetz came in at knee height, feet off the ground, planting his studs just below Possebon’s knee. After several minutes of attention, our player was white as a ghost and was taken off the field on gas. ‘Cheat’ doesn’t come close to describing the behaviour of players like him, who could end careers in the blink of an eye. Lest we forget, Pogatetz, who’s just 25-years-old, has already broken one player’s leg! And don’t get me started on this cheat.

Then on Boxing Day, Middlesbrough took on Everton, who still have no strikers, at home. They lost 1-0. Who cares? Not me, usually, however it was interesting to see a booking that was handed out a couple of minutes from the end. With time running out for the home team, Johnson dived in the area, a desperate attempt to win his side a penalty and a point. He was booked for his dive and didn’t complain, just turned and ran back up the pitch sheepishly.

I wonder how the Boro fans reacted, following their hate obsession with Cristiano Ronaldo. Whenever the clubs meet, he is booed from the moment he touches the ball. I wonder if they regard their own in the same way. Johnson, a product of the Boro youth team (not some poncy foreigner), who learnt everything he knows from Middlesbrough, and dives. What was Southgate’s post match assessment of that? I didn’t hear the word “cheat” and I certainly didn’t see Johnson’s face on the back of every paper. In fact, reading through reports from The Times, The Guardian and Daily Mail, Johnson’s dive isn’t even mentioned. Funny that.

This country, with the help of the media, gets whipped up in to a frenzy when it comes to heroes and villains in football. Some players are popular to hate, like Ronaldo, some players are popular to love, like Gerrard, and some players don’t even come up on the radar, like Johnson. They all have one thing in common though, they cheat and dive in a bid to give their team the advantage.

Ahead of our match on Monday at Old Trafford, our manager has moved to try and calm this hatred down.

“Over the years we have had some contentious games, culminating earlier in the season with the Carling Cup tie,” said Ferguson. “A terrible tackle put Rodrigo Possebon out of the game but could easily have broken his leg. I lost my temper at the time but hopefully that challenge has served to bring both clubs to their senses. I feel the healing process started when their manager and his coach apologised for the tackle and things said in the heat of the moment. I think we understand better now that we are involved in games of football and not a war. I am sure we can build a better relationship. I certainly hope so because we have had some momentous games against Middlesbrough, matches that have helped decide titles. Those games also generate a great atmosphere and we always take a big crowd to the Riverside.”

About Scott

Scott is the editor of Red Matters - 50 Years of Supporting Manchester United and an author of Play Like Fergie's Boys and Not Nineteen Forever. He writes for ESPN, The Metro and Bleacher Report. Follow @R_o_M on Twitter.

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  1. vidic will get ya15 says:

    fantastic blog scot, again !!!!

  2. vidic will get ya15 says:

    don’t suppose anyone got team news on tomoz game?? fabio at left back anyone??

  3. Bob Koh says:

    I’m a convinced believer all over again. In fact, I’m about to quote this in the f365 forum. Great blog, scot!

  4. Redcar Red says:

    1) For a Club that worshipped Roy Keane for many years any comments about Pogatetz is laughable.

    2) Regarding diving, Ronaldo has made a lifelong career out of it, thankfully along with the likes of Drogba and Duff and co. seems to have grown out of it to some extent. So to make him out as an innocent victim is blinkered beyond belief.

    3) Boro and diving, you forgot to mention Johnson’s dive earlier on in the same game against Everton!……………..big question is why? ………..very simple Against Hull 3 games ago Hull had a player 2 yards offside, Wheater chased back and the player lent into him going down getting a penalty and Wheater sent off and banned for the Arsenal game. The result Boro lost at least a point maybe two. Versus Arsenal Johnson was scythed down by Clichy in the box at 1-1, penalty…no chance! that would have been two more points and more importantly for you guys one point less for Arsenal. Our next game against Fulham a ricochet from point blank range hits McMahon on the arm after hit it off a Fulham players shin, never intentional hand ball in a million years and it occured at 1-0 and we were looking to get back into it so possibly another potential point lost. In the 3 games prior to the Everton game we have been robbed by penalty decisions going against us and consequently if you can’t beat them join them! an extra 3 or 4 points puts us mid table instead of Relegation fodder.

    4) Problem is that Refs always support the controversial decisions for Manchelsearsepool and the rest of us get beggar all. Then just take a look at who refereees the big clubs and who the rookie Refs get week in week out making their mistakes at our expense until they are considered to have enough experience to handle the big 4. If you are going to write something check out the whole story and the build up to it, nothing in life is rarely as straightforward as it appears.

  5. DAL says:

    So were you there to see the reaction of the Boro fans after that dive?

    No. They weren’t impressed I tell you.

  6. Jake says:

    it’s all tit-for-tat this tackling/behaviour business. All the players are at it, Ronaldo is one of the worst, but not the worst or alone.. In terms of career-threatening tackles, I don’t think many players mean to end careers with them (it would hardly be good PR) or even put a player out of a game but make a decision on how best to win the ball back but unfortunately it’s the wrong decision (I’ve done it and realised the mistake). If we are talking about purposeful career-threatening tackles then only one comes to mind and that’s Keane’s on Haaland.

  7. zc1175 says:

    Fantastic article Scott – top draw and balanced.

  8. spencer says:

    Excellent blog Scott.

    This is part of the reason why I have no time for Southgate

  9. wiuru... says:

    Keep your friends close, your enemies closer.

  10. EastStandManc says:

    Redcar Red:

    1) Haaland was the victim of what many would call ‘karma’. You stand over a man who bears grudges, growling and shouting that he’s faking a serious injury, you cannot in the least be surprised that he’s going to want to get revenge in some way, shape or form. What Keano did, in the end, was disgusting, but it didn’t surpise me. That’s not to say I condone it; I didn’t then, and I don’t now. All I’m saying is it was hardly a surprise. What precedent had Possebon set against Pogatetz?

    2) He’s not making him out to be an innocent victim, a point that it is always missed by ABU’s when we bring this issue up. What he’s saying is that if you’re going to make a fuss about it, make a fuss about everyone, everytime. Tar one, tar all, if you will.

    3) Fair do’s. I happen to disagree with you on that one; I take the line David Moyes takes, which is that things like that tend to even themselves out over the course of a season, but I can see where you’re coming from.

    4)What? So experienced refs don’t fuck up? Like that twat Rob Styles? Or Halsey? Clattenburg? Rennie? The worst of the lot, Three-Yellow-Poll?

    Give over.

  11. Redcar Red says:


    1) Disagree about the Haaland Karma thing but we can score points on this all next year if we start dragging up tasty historical events like kung fu kicks by the then Man U Captain, which ironically his ban cost you the title yet was still voted as Man U player of the Century. Pogatetz can be a loose canon at times, his tackle against Possebon was deplorable and I doubt you will find any Boro fan who thinks otherwise. He is whole hearted and commited but his timing can be awful (hence his nickname Mad Dog) which is just as dangerous but not the same as deliberate. He regularly has a bandage swathed in blood on his forehead and never feigns injury as a consequence so he at least takes it as well as dishes it.We had a similar incident involving Arca v. Fulham the other week when he totally misjudged a tackle on AJ and caught him full on the shin, how AJ escaped a broken leg is beyond me. Again the Boro fans all agreed he was lucky to stay on the pitch and Southgate subbed him to show his displeasure. Cynical tackles have no place in Sport, neither do dangerous or stupid ones but there is a difference.

    2) Fully agree about making a fuss about all divers/cheaters hence my mentioning Drogba and Duff to name a few (we could probably list another 7 or 8 currently in the Prem) not forgetting the finest of all from your rivals across the city Frannie Lee who made it an art form. For me technology exists to ensure fairness wins and not gamesmanship and the FA should embrace it.

    3) Southgate like Moyes keeps saying to the Boro fans that it evens itself out over a season. We keep saying to him to take a leaf out of Fergie’s book and make sure it evens itself up because right now it is going to cost us a place in the Premiership and him his Job. What we would give to see him sent to the stands just once instead of always going along with the FA’s respect theme and giving Officials an easy ride at our expense. Just look at Wenger’s outburst at O’Neil, both of them manipulating and playing mind games which will undoubtedly sway future 50/50 decisions their respective clubs way. From a Boro fans perspective it has gone way beyond a joke and looking more like 80/20 rather than 50/50 over the season.

    4) Again fully agree about Rob Styles, Halsey, Clattenburg, Rennie, Poll and I’d add Mother Riley in there as well when it comes to dropping clangers but if you think they are bad believe me its a lot worse with the likes of Tanner, Stroud and co. Technology as I’ve mentioned above is a must in any multi million pound industry especially when your very survival depends upon it and your Manager (Southgate) is too nice to fight your corner.

    Anyway lets hope its a good thrilling game tomorrow night for all the right reasons and any disappointment is down to fair play deciding the result and not the outcome of a dodgy Penalty or Offside decision replayed over and over again. Fergie has made a magnanimous jesture before the game in calming things and I hope that sets the scene rather then the inflammatory stuff above. Good luck for the rest of the Season…………..just not tomorrow night!

  12. TonyBee says:

    Eaststandmanc: Keanos revenge on Haaland shouldn,t have happened on the pitch ….it should have happened as soon as Keano was fit and able to stick one on the gobby cunt. If it had of happened to me or you or one of ours there is no way he would of got away without a slap. Alright Keano did him sweet as a nut but the cunt had it coming big time

  13. Jake says:

    does anyone remember the first incident between Keane and Haaland? I’m a United fan but come on people, Keane tried to crop Haaland who was running through on goal and injured himself. Keane’s a legend but his attitude can sometimes be his undoing, just look at his recent exit from Sunderland in which it seems his cutthroat management style had alienated some of the players. This tackling business is silly, it’s a concerted attempt by the top clubs (who naturally claim most of the media exposure) to reduce the ability of physical clubs like Bolton or Stoke to affect football matches. Physicality is not the friend of any of the top, footballing clubs but it shouldn’t be forced out of the game through hysteria because shock results make the Premiership what it is. If a club like Stoke don’t/can’t have the quality to match the top teams and aren’t even allowed to mix it up a bit to get under the skin of some of the top players then we are all in for a few more uninteresting games a year. Oh, and Arsenal would have won the title at our expense on a couple of occasions in the last 5 or so years if Arsene Wenger had had his way, it’s the job of football clubs to deal with all aspects of football and it’s no good moaning about Kevin Davies or Refs in an attempt to negate the threat, just get on with it.


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