Cristiano Ronaldo's departure to Real Madrid has left United with more than one or two issues to solve come the new season. This post basically tackles the 'dead-ball taker' role--a position that the Portuguese made his own since the departure of Ruud van Nistelrooy.
For starters, Cristiano, was not a poor penalty taker for us. He scored much more than he missed so we can credit him for that. Unfortunately, he missed the most important ones. I'll never forget the one missed at Upton Park when a goal would have won us the game--we went on to lose the game instead.
Then who can forget the one he missed at the Camp Nou. No European side fancies their chances in Catalonia. But United were given a penalty just 2 minutes into the game--a chance to score a vital away goal and knock the confidence out of Barca before the game proper had started. Incredibly, Ronaldo blazed over the bar to effectively knock the confidence from our lads--no wonder we defended for the rest of that match. Thankfully, we made it to the final via the home leg back in Manchester.
After that game in Barcelona, you'd think that Ronaldo had missed his important penalty for United and he as well as we were over it. It's why you could bet your mortgage on him to beat Petr Cech from 12 yards in the Champions League final. Shockingly, he missed! After that I kind of lost my trust in him from 12 yards as he had developed this disease of stopping half-way through his run to shoot the ball. I mean you could see the nerves all over his face when he stepped up to take the kick against Spurs last season in our 5-2 win. He shot straight--which in my opinion is the safest place to put the ball. There are minimal chances of the goalkeeper staying on his spot.
Ronaldo was indeed the best player we had from 12 yards so I cannot fault him for what didn't go in.
However, now that he's gone, United will need to come up with a consistent player in charge of penalties. Nani for starters will lay claim in the absence of Hargreaves to all the penalties and free-kicks. He wants to show that he can take every responsibility that Ronaldo took at United. He's not a poor penalty taker but I think he's not worth taking a free-kick. Either way, it's not guaranteed that he is a sure starter next season. He has to earn it.
As far as free-kicks go, you pray that Hargo will be around for most of the season such that we make better use of them.
The Canadian-born German speaking Englishman is also an expert from 12 yards but you wonder if he will be in the side long-enough to claim both roles.
Michael Carrick is a sure starter for United when fit and I've never seen him miss a penalty. Forget the ones he's put away in shoot-out competitions for United, but last pre-season saw him net a couple of penalties when Ronaldo was injured and I was impressed. The players who aim once in a while for the top corner are in my opinion specialists from the spot---and since Carrick and Hargreaves were prepared to do that in a game as big as the Champions League final, they a the top choice for me. You see the top corner is a risky place to target as you could actually blaze it over. But again, it's one of those corners in a goal which if you find will nullify the goalkeeper's presence in the goal!
One thing is for certain
Let me just end bu apologising for this long post!
Labels: MANCHESTER UNITED