Anorak News | A First-Class Stamp

A First-Class Stamp

by | 26th, October 2004

‘THE post-mortems into what the Sun is calling “The Battle of the Buffet”, the Mail “Soupgate” and everyone else “The New Battle of Old Trafford” start in earnest this morning.

Ferdinand forgets where the ball is

And the man in the dock is Ruud Van Nistelrooy, who (says the Express) is facing a three-match ban for his tackle on Ashley Cole.

TV pundits were queuing up to lambaste Manchester United’s Dutch striker, with Alan Hansen describing it as “nasty, cynical and so over the top it was a disgrace”.

Even former referee Jeff Winter agrees, saying: “It was horrific. It was intentional. The tackle could have finished Ashley Cole’s career.”

The Express is not alone in being baffled at how referee Mike Riley didn’t even award a free-kick – and says it is about time the player was hauled before the authorities.

The man himself naturally pleads his innocence in the Sun, insisting that it was a 50-50 ball “and in those situations two players can collide”.

Most of the time, it must be said, the studs on one player’s boot don’t tend to collide with the inside of the other player’s knee.

But Van Nistelrooy did at least admit that Riley got it wrong for the penalty.

“I thought it was a penalty at the time,” he tells the Mirror. “That was my first reaction, but later on when I saw it on television replays, I thought it was a present for Manchester United.”

While the Mail asks whether being a Premiership referee is now an impossible job, given the cheating that goes on, it won’t surprise anyone to learn that Riley didn’t even see the food fight in the tunnel after the game.

And that means both clubs are likely to escape punishment, unless one of them lodges an official complaint – unlikely, says the Mail, as both sides are keen to play down an embarrassing episode.

All of which overshadows the real Battle of Old Trafford and the news that American tycoon Malcolm Glazer is turning up the heat in his fight to buy the club.

The Express says he is seething at the Old Trafford board’s refusal to recommend his takeover bid to shareholders.

“The £3 a share represents a significant premium on an already premium price,” a City source (with no connection to the Glazer bid – obviously) tells the paper.

“The Glazers must wonder whether the vast majority of shareholders are best suited by their decision to reject it.”

The same City source also reveals that the Glazers planned to bring stability to the club, money to invest in new players, fresh ideas to the board room, permanent blue sky over Manchester…’

Posted: 26th, October 2004 | In: Back pages Comment | TrackBack | Permalink