Thursday, February 11, 2010

Nani's moment of madness leaves Sir Alex Ferguson seeing red

Nani - Nani's moment of madness leaves Sir Alex Ferguson seeing red

Sir Alex Ferguson received a major blow to his offensive options at Villa Park, a straight red card given to Nani, awarded by referee Peter Walton for a studs-up tackle on Stiliyan Petrov, meaning that the winger will suspended for the next three domestic games, including his side’s Carling Cup final against Villa at Wembley later this month.

By Sandy Macaskill
He will also be required to sit out of United’s next two Premier League matches, a trip to Goodison Park and a home fixture with West Ham, which after the draw in the west midlands have assumed even greater importance as United strive to wrest the lead of the table from Chelsea.
It couldn’t have come at a worse time for either the 23-year-old or Ferguson. In recent weeks Nani has been the king to Wayne Rooney’s ace, and he has been rewarded with a starting place in United’s last five games, running amok against Hull, Manchester City, Arsenal and Portsmouth.
Finally the Portuguese has been able to show what he can do now that he is no longer obscured by Cristiano Ronaldo’s shadow.
The midfielder has been the target of some criticism since his £18 million move from Sporting Lisbon in 2007. Too often the attempts at trickery seemed nothing more pale imitations of his more illustrious team-mate, his free-kicks well regarded, but nothing on the master, and it earned him the unfortunate nickname ‘Ronaldo lite’, and rumours Ferguson would sell him come summer
Yet Ronaldo’s departure to Real Madrid, Antonio Valencia’s failure to step into his boots, and Dimitar Berbatov’s inability to emerge from obscurity since his move from Spurs have left Ferguson casting for alternatives to provide cutting edge, and Nani has emerged as the solution.
Unfortunately for United fans he was unable to deliver on the promise that “I am sure I have the quality to be one of the best in the world," – as he said this week – his only contribution of note before he was escorted down the tunnel to a cheering Villa Park a vicious free kick, which almost bamboozled Brad Friedel with a late swerve.
Martin O’Neill, meanwhile, has been left fretting over the fitness of Petrov, who left the scene injured in the 65th minute, to be replaced by Steve Sidwell. The Bulgarian has been the linchpin of Villa’s season, operating in a holding role in front of the celebrated back four.
With the likes of James Milner and Ashley Young plying their trade in the same midfield, Petrov’s contribution often goes unsung – but should the injury prove serious it would be a major blow to Villa.


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