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Why Don’t Our Players Know Who Is On Penalty Duty?

Following our 1-0 win over Galatasaray last night, Sir Alex Ferguson claimed he thought Robin van Persie should have taken the second half penalty that Nani missed.

“I think he just ran and grabbed the ball,” he said. “I thought Robin should have taken it, to be honest with you. I think we will have to decide before the game. That was my fault, I should have done that.”

United have had three penalties this season, taken by Van Persie, Chicharito and now Nani, and all three of them have missed. Whilst that is a concern in itself, I can’t believe that United are going in to Champions League games with no instruction from the manager on penalty taking duties.

The same happened at the beginning of the 2009-2010 season and United were awarded a penalty against Burnley. It was our first penalty since Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure to Real Madrid and after the game the manager revealed he was “surprised” that Michael Carrick took it when Wayne Rooney and Michael Owen were on the pitch. Carrick missed and we lost 1-0.

“I think we’d have won the game if we’d scored that,” Ferguson said. “We’d have composed ourselves and won, I think. Instead, in the second half we got harried with our passes and made a couple of bad decisions. That can happen. We should have done more with the chances we had and the possession we had.”

We were in a similar situation at the end of the season when Rooney, who replaced Ronaldo after the Burnley game as our penalty taker, was missing for a game against Spurs. United were awarded two penalties but Ryan Giggs took them both, despite Nani going to collect the ball. It was the first penalty Giggs had taken for us since missing one in the FA Cup against Southampton in 1992.

“Nani felt confident but as captain and elder statesman I decided to take it,” Giggs explained after the game.

At the start of the following season, United were awarded a penalty that would have put us 3-1 up, but Nani missed it and Fulham came back and equalised.

“I thought Ryan should have taken it,” Ferguson said after the game. “In the last game we played against Tottenham at home Ryan scored two penalty kicks and Nani was on the pitch.”

How amateur is that? I cannot believe that United go in to games with no clue who will take a penalty if we’re awarded one. It says a lot about how little practice of penalties is going on at training, which is no surprise given how poor our record has been with them this season.

Who will step up and take one at Anfield? Evra?

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. Proverb says:


    1) Darren Fletcher – Welcome back

    Darren Fletcher’s battle with a chronic bowel condition has been well documented, to such an extent where many, including myself, believed we may have seen the last of the midfielder on the pitch. It would appear though, that his treatment has helped his problems settle down somewhat, to the extent that he can train and participate. It remains to be seen how regularly he will be seen this season, but the fact that he is even considered and option can only be a bonus that Sir Alex Ferguson will only be too keen to have. The Scot’s qualities have been held in high regard in the last couple of seasons, before his illness became known, and at times have been missed for the way he could break up play and added strength in the middle of the park.


    2) Penalty crisis?

    After Hernandez and Van Persie’s efforts from the spot kick so far this season, it was the turn of Nani to turn around the side’s fortunes. Normally, the Portuguese winger is dependable for the spot, often powering and place his shots well. However, on this occasion the penalty blues seemed to strike him as well, with his tame effort being saved. Fans will be hoping that this is simply a case of “bad things coming in threes” and that from here penalties will be taken with more venom than they have seen so far. In truth, one might argue whether it should have been awarded in the first place, but such was the irregularity of the refereeing decisions, that it could be said one should have been given later in the game. In fact, Galatasaray had reason to feel aggrieved with the decisions as well, with Vidic lucky to escape after taking out a player  after Evra’s poor lay off.


    3) Is the goalkeeping situation healthy for the back line?

    Given the desire for defensive solidarity, one might assume that a regular number one choice between the posts may be of use. This is likely especially true when the back four has had little in the way of consistency in the opening weeks of the campaign, with Evans only just coming back as the defenders start to make recoveries. Of course there have been cases for


    and De Gea to take their place in goal, and both providing evidence to have less confidence in them. De Gea certainly has superb shot stopping ability but his command still sells him short.

    Lindegaard too, has had a couple of shaky moments.

    Be in no doubt, that both have their qualities but the question remains, should Sir Alex be sticking to the one or should both continue to be given equal opportunities to prove their worth?

    It is a situation that has to be handled correctly. Perhaps Sir Alex sees it as keeping both on their toes and to make sure nothing is taken for granted. It is likely not as simple as playing one more often and using the other less often, as both are young and talented and want to stake a claim to be top dog. If such a strategy were to be used, De Gea could be number one, with Lindegaard being used in cup competition, with the young Spaniard continuing to adapt to the English game, even if occasionally, conceding goals from set pieces became more of a risk. The other way one may look at it is to use Lindegaard as first choice for the near future, until De Gea is ready for the pressures of the Premier League and the physicality. It is certainly an interesting situation, and one that fans hope does not have too much detriment to the side, given United’s recent history and troubles with goalkeepers, with the exception of Van Der Sar and Schmeichel.


    4) Wasteful up front, Nani impressive

    One thing that must be said of United was that they were not short of chances going forward. The issue was putting them away. It appeared much like the frustrating side that took to the Champion’s League last season, where United were sloppy, particularly at home and were made to pay the consequences with group stage elimination. On this occasion, it was not costly and they came away with the spoils, which ultimately is what matters, but Sir Alex will want to avoid the same mistakes that proved so decisive last time. There were some positive to take. There was some good link up play in creating chances. Nani in particular seemed active and appeared to be involved on plenty of occasions, despite his missed penalty.  Valencia was not to his usual standards, with some poor crosses coming in and frustration setting in later on. Van Persie also had a poor game. Galatasaray could have made the evening far worse than it turned out, United will feel fortunate for that to have been avoided.


    5) A winning start, a chance to push on

    With one eye on Sunday’s clash with Liverpool, one might look at the evening’s performance and find reason to be concerned. That said, Premier League action, particularly against their Merseyside rivals is always a different prospect entirely and should make for interesting, and tense, viewing in itself. To come away with victory is a good start in European competition, but fans will be all too aware that performances will have to pick up if any meaningful impact is to be had this season. Given the standard of the opposition, it is fair to say there will be no easy games and getting through the group stages is only part of the challenge. However, it would be fair to say the season is still young, and there is likely more to come from this team. For now, the three points are happily accepted, and United move on to the next one.

  2. Utd4life says:

    I think this team is going to take some time to gel. Kagawa has to have good chemistry with the likes of RVP, Rooney, Chico, Welbeck, Nani and Valencia. Kagawa holds the key as far as I am concerned. The guy offers a different dimension to our usual approach of attack which is to pass the ball to the wings and then cross the ball in. The team needs to take advantage of Kagawa’s vision and technique. Teams have gotten to our usual M.O. and defend accordingly. It’s time we change our style of attack but that is going to take time.

  3. Utd4life says:

    The penalty taking issue will be sorted out once Rooney comes back and the same goes for goalkeeping but it is the midfield which holds the key to our success in Europe. I hope the Gaffer has a plan because hand on heart, if it was Utd instead of City playing against Madrid then I would have seen us get slaughtered. I couldn’t envisage us playing at such a high tempo. We can mock City as much as possible but they do have a better midfield than ours. I know I will get abused for this but I am calling it like I see it. I love UTD but I don’t see them going too far in Europe this season.

  4. Proverb says:

    The most appalling thing is fans having a go at nani
    Imo I think the hairdryer affects him badly
    And I wonder how many he has got since joining united
    Fuck it, the dude was lively
    If we sell him we may then regret
    Cause the buyer will rip the benefits

  5. Bobby Charlton's combover says:

    Rule number 1: Each club should have a designated penalty taker and back-up penalty taker. If either player isn’t on the pitch then before the game the manager has to give the responsibility to someone else. It’s very simple.

    Rule number 2: No dinky winky, tame, roll them in wankarse penaltys. Hit it hard and place it in either corner or hit it hard down the middle. This should be an instruction form the coaching staff. I remember most penalties RvN took were hard and low and into the corner and gave the keeper no chance.
    If the keeper saves it, well done to him but don’t make it easy.

    Rule number 3: Don’t forget rules number one and two.

  6. Bobby Charlton's combover says:

    I forgot rule number 4: No false, stuttered run ups, feints, shimmys, one step amd shoot jobs or any other type of fannying about before kicking the ball. Take a decent run and hit it hard for fucks sake.

  7. Scott the Red says:

    Major – I said it was “amateur” that the players don’t know who is supposed to be taking the penalties and it is.

  8. Unitedforeva says:

    Last night was so frustrating to watch and I know it is easy to say after the fact, but why when presented with a scoring chance, did Chico/Kagawa take that additional touch/ stride and then go and lose the ball. Too many times and I wished my imaginery PS3 controller had worked. It was unforgivable for Nani to miss the penalty, he was basically taking a 50% chance the goalie goes the other way. Well, 3 pts in the group stage so I hope at Anfield Sunday we’ll play a brilliant game as we still hate them, don’t we?

  9. Corea says:

    @Utd4life – yeah. but it is only a matter of winning CL that would give us 4th European title and Fergie’s 3rd. Everything else is where we have been already, 2 finals lost to Barca (second one at least we scored and had our chances) etc. But another thing is profit that CL could give and CL experience gained.
    But for most i agree with you.

    As for Nani he was lively yesterday. Grown frustrated of him for a couple of years already but just hope something happens in his brain that would gives the opportunity to see the talented player with a bright head on his shoulders.

  10. Sid says:

    Completely agree with the concern here. I can’t remember MU ever being known for good penalty taking, but when Ronny was here it seemed a natural thing that he would take the penalty and he IS an amazing penalty taker as well. I guess his presence hid our lack of expertise in this area a little bit.

  11. Voice of reason says:

    I really am worried about the large number of footballing no nothings masquerading in our support – nani was outstanding last night creating numerous chances against a massed defence -,yes he missed a pen but so has the new darling Rvp this season – he created more danger than the rest of our forwards put together – tony v wasted at least 6 situations with poor crosses, kagawa went missing for long spells and Rvp did not get involved – these will be some of the same who thought Obertan was better than nani after a couple of sub appearances

  12. Proverb says:

    Funny how nani went about taking the penalty
    His reaction after the ref pointed for penalty
    Was charging for the ball grab it, ignore everyone and miss it terribly, that was crazy
    I think he was on pills

  13. Gorse Hill Red says:

    I was in the NE quad and had the sense that everyone had the feeling he was going to miss. Better sort this out by Sunday, if we get a pen against The Victims this is one we simply can’t miss.

    Mind you I thought Nani had a good game and knows that his United career is on the line.

  14. FletchTHEMAN says:

    Scott, Cheers mate. It is amateur. But more so for the Manager to come out and continually say maybe some else should take it.
    He’s the flippin manager and he should tell the players what the pen order is depending who is on the pitch.

    Order for me is 1. Rooney, 2. Giggs 3 van Persie,
    4. Oh I don’t know…… Büttner ;)

    To be fair Nani and Chicharito both do it for national sides so they have to be considered.

    But the point the post was spot on. Why do we always, and this is 2+ years now, look unconvincing on corners, spot kicks and pens. IT IS UNPROFESSIONAL = AMATEUR!

  15. Legend(Giggs) says:

    I was frustrated as hell last nite but i think da boys were a bid nervous bcoz of last season experience but on a positive note i was impressed with Vidic, he is slowly getting back to his best,what a beast!
    Tony V was completely off last nite, his crossing was terrible, i personally think a 4-2-3-1 formation works best with Cleverley&Anderson combo, 4-4-2 works best with Carrick&Scholes combo having A Young & Tony V running in da wings, Tom & Ando like to pass da ball around which is good for Shinji Kagawa.

  16. DreadedRed says:

    Sir Alex said:

    “Galatasaray have got more experience in their team and in the first half we gave the ball away and they counter-attacked well from that. I think [there was a] lack of concentration at times. It’s unusual for us to be as frivolous with the ball.”

    “In the second half we did much better in that respect. I was pleased with the second half – it was more solid, we had better concentration and we saw it out really well. They never made any chances and all the chances fell to us – we could have scored four or five in the second half. They were very confident in their play and possession. You get that with these European teams.”

    “Not a problem; you just have to be patient and make sure that when you’re in possession you make it count and with missing the chances we did in the second half, we keep ourselves on the edge.”

  17. DreadedRed says:

    Sir Alex continued…

    “I think getting three points in the first game is a bonus. If you go back to last season we got a point in Benfica, then a point at home… so three points are really important. With Cluj beating Braga away sets up a really interesting game for the next match.”

  18. DreadedRed says:

    Sir Alex on Fletcher’s return:

    “He’s been out for a long time and I think the supporters recognise what a difficult time the lad’s had. That [the crowd's ovation] was a mark of respect to a really honest and tremendous young lad. I was pleased for him. He didn’t do great but he didn’t do badly. Taking into consideration it was his first game for ten months, I think he acquitted himself very well. “

  19. DreadedRed says:

    Michael Carrick said:

    “It’s vital we got off to a winning start after last year, really. It was vital we won at home, especially against a good team – and they really are a very decent team. They kept possession very well. At times I thought we defended well, especially in the second half when we limited them to possession without really hurting us. That was a good sign for us. They counter-attacked on us quite well and were a bit of a threat, but we nullified that in the second half and overall we can be happy; we’ve played some good stuff and we’ve won the game.”

    On his first Champions League goal in almost three years, he laughed: “It’s hard, you know, I don’t get many so when the chance is there… obviously you can go down and stay down and there’s a chance maybe of him getting sent off, but we’ve missed three penalties now so maybe taking the chance was the right one!”

  20. DreadedRed says:

    Carrick on the 3 missed penalties:

    “He’s [SAF] probably got something to say but thankfully each one we’ve missed, we’ve won the game and hopefully next time we get one we’ll put it away.”

  21. nesh says:

    Nani has always been a good penalty taker for those who genuinely have cared to notice he should have done better.Apart from the penalty he did okay. missing 3 penalties 3 games in a row ! can we score apenalty to save our lifes…especially in the champions we cannot afford to miss those chances, evn Bebe shd not be allowed to miss with stakes high like that. That said RVP or rooney shd take the penalties, and Kagawa is a blessing to us sent directly by God himself, the lad is just out of this world.
    Carrick last night was on another wavelength too was everywhere, tackling, turning with the, passing -kudos.
    and please sir Alex let DDG be the main keeper he will just get better no disrespect to Lindergaard he just aint at the same level.

  22. Bobby Charlton's combover says:


    How many times have Cleverly and Anderson played together, it’s premature to say it’s a good combo ir they’ve hardly ever coincided on the pitch together.

  23. DreadedRed says:

    Don’t get strung out by the way I look
    Don’t judge a book by it’s cover
    I’m not much of a man by the light of day
    But by night I’m one hell of a lover
    I’m just a sweet transvestite
    From Transexual, Transylvania

    Next CL tie for United is on the 2nd of October against CFR Cluj, in Transylvania!

    It could go either way.

  24. reddevil says:

    I think if not van persie takes it. The choise is Giggs. Ive watched alot of his freekick and penalties and it’s very good. best control in United.

  25. andy says:

    “It was the first penalty Giggs had taken for us since missing one in the FA Cup against Southampton in 1992.”

    Why doesn’t his peno in Moscow count???

  26. 0161-Jon says:

    Nani needs a fucking slap, as does anyone who does the stutter on a penalty. He did that against Barca pre season and missed then. He was woeful yet again yesterday.

  27. DreadedRed says:


    Be a good slapper then. Nothing quite like smack to knock sense into one.

    “You! Yes, you! Stand still laddie!”

    When we grew up and went to school, there were certain teachers who would hurt the children any way they could. By pouring their derision upon anything we did, exposing every weakness, however carefully hidden by the kids. But in the town it was well known when they got home at night, their fat and psychopathic wives would thrash them within inches of their lives.

  28. kk says:

    Nani had a good game. The run up o the spot kick I believe is what made him miss. We were lively going forward but then we lost concentration and started over elaborating on simple plays an example of which is Van P’s last action of the night and he got a card for his troubles.

  29. TonyBee says:

    Pro911verb @7:15
    Haven’t you an original thought about the game… If you cut and paste other reports at least have the bollocks to credit where it came from

  30. tom c says:

    Champs League when we beat Chelsea, Ronnie had a stuttered run up and saw his pen saved.. remind you of anyone? ;)

  31. hodge1 says:

    They should have a training session where everyone takes ten penalties and whoever scores the most is designated penalty taker, but no staggered run ups


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