“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?
Made in Manchester is available for just £5. It includes 30 articles from the country's best football writers about graduates from the Manchester United academy. Everyone who buys a copy enters a competition to win the new home shirt. All profit goes to Trafford Macmillan so please support this fantastic cause.