One has to won­der if God wears red, black & white?

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - GOOD WEEKEND -

ONE of the old­est sport­ing cliches is that there’s no room for com­ment in the re­sults col­umn. Just as well, if you hap­pen to fol­low the for­tunes of Manch­ester United.

It has be­come com­mon prac­tice for United to pull a rab­bit out of the hat when all seems for­lorn. Through­out their dom­i­na­tion of the English Premier­ship, late goals have en­sured United’s points tally keeps tick­ing over.

The habit has also ex­tended to the Euro­pean stage, the most fa­mous ex­am­ple be­ing the two in­jury­time goals by Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gun­nar Sol­sk­jaer against Bay­ern Mu­nich in the 1999 Cham­pi­ons League fi­nal turn­ing around what seemed a cer­tain 1-0 de­feat into a 2-1 cel­e­bra­tion. So un­likely was the come­back that even that United leg­end, Ge­orge Best, left the Nou Camp be­fore the end of the game to drown his sor­rows.

The “Late Goal Syn­drome” can be traced back to 1993 when United found them­selves 2-1 down against Sh­effield Wed­nes­day. With Alex Fer­gu­son im­plor­ing his men to charge for­ward in the search of an equaliser, in came a cross and cen­tral de­fender Steve Bruce headed home to make it 2-2 with time up on the clock. A mat­ter of a minute later and United had taken home max­i­mum points... an­other des­per­ate Bruce header bulging the net.

This sea­son so far United have ben­e­fited five times from goals that have come af­ter the 90 min­utes is up and the game has headed into the ref­eree’s op­tional time. Once Fer­gu­son analy­ses things he might feel that his re­cent out­pour­ings of rage di­rected at the whistle­men – “not fit enough to keep up with play,”… “not ex­pe­ri­enced enough to han­dle the oc­ca­sion,”… “the worst penalty de­ci­sion I have ever seen” – might not sit well with the num­ber of times his team has ben­e­fited. Al­ready this sea­son: Chelsea looked to have the Com­mu­nity Shield in the Stam­ford Bridge cab­i­net when lead­ing 2-1 with time up. Wayne Rooney ap­peared in the 92nd minute to en­sure a share of the sil­ver­ware.

Ad­mit­tedly the game was al­ready in the bag when Nani scored in the 92nd minute to com­plete a 5-0 rout over Wi­gan.

With time run­ning out against a dif­fi­cult CSKA Moscow in their Cham­pi­ons League group match, An­to­nio Va­len­cia pounced in the 86th minute for the win­ner.

Manch­ester City’s Craig Bel­lamy had equalised at 3-3 in a fren­zied Manch­ester derby be­fore the board showed six ex­tra min­utes at Old Traf­ford. Those six min­utes had al­ready elapsed when Michael Owen found the net to win the game 4-3 for the cham­pi­ons.

Sun­der­land had come to Old Traf­ford and were looking good value for a shock victory when lead­ing 2-1 with the match headed into the ref­eree’s op­tional pe­riod. Four ex­tra min­utes elapsed when An­ton Fer­di­nand’s own goal res­cued a point for United.

An ad­ven­tur­ous CSKA Moscow ar­rived at Old Traf­ford de­ter­mined to show their per­for­mance against United (above) had not been a flash in the pan. They were lead­ing their Cham­pi­ons League group match 3-1 with six min­utes re­main­ing. Paul Sc­holes headed home what ap­peared to be an 84th minute con­so­la­tion goal, but three min­utes into added time Va­len­cia’s shot took a de­flec­tion off Shchen­nikov to res­cue the night at 3-3 and en­sure United pro­gressed into the knock­out stages of the com­pe­ti­tion.

Fer­gu­son (Now SIR Alex) and the United fans will say th­ese late goals come be­cause op­po­nents try to sit on their leads and there­fore when United go for­ward, the op­po­si­tion de­fends deeper in their own half – and con­se­quently they spring a leak.

But it hap­pens so of­ten that the rest of the English Premier­ship (and much of Europe) must be won­der­ing if God wears red, black and white.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.