April 2000 – Madrid and Manchester
This was the first of only four seasons where there was to be two group stages in the European Cup. United had cruised through the second group stage without too much problem, beating Girondins de Bordeaux home and away and losing at Fiorentina just before Christmas, partially due to a rare Roy Keane mistake which gifted Gabriel Batistuta the first goal in a 2-0 win for the Viola. This season saw European football at saturation level. On the 21st of March 2000, I was high up in the almost vertical Estadio de Mestalla watching Valencia and United play out a 0-0 draw which was very convenient for both sides. I didn’t know it at the time but exactly two weeks later, I would be back in Spain watching United play 200 miles from where I was at the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu. Back in Manchester on the Friday after the Valencia match about Midday, the news came through that United had drawn Real Madrid in the Quarter finals. Huge mobile phones were abuzz with all kinds of excited phone calls and text messages flying about with plans to go. I remember being sat by a computer on the Easyjet website ready to book flights from Speke to Barajas and it went swimmingly, return flights booked for four at a grand total of just under £350.00. Sitting there feeling very pleased with myself, we all went to the pub for an all dayer in good spirits. The first sign of worry came when we heard later on that day that the match at the Bernabéu was on a Tuesday night. We’d booked flights to go out on Wednesday morning and as everybody knows, once a flight with Easyjet is booked it’s cast in Moses tablets and impossible to change. We found flights going out of Gatwick on the Tuesday morning with Air Europa which cost us just over £100.00 apiece that did have the consolation of the fact that we could smoke on the flight (in those days, a very rare privilege, nowadays illegal).
Continue reading Redondo’s Dummy – United against Real Madrid in the Early 2000s
Former Arsenal & Scotland goalkeeper, BBC sport anchor and all round nice guy Bob Wilson recently said that when he was a goalkeeper “you could tell where the ball was going to go five yards after it left your opponents foot, nowadays a goalkeeper doesn’t know where the ball’s going to go until it’s five yards away from him“. I quote this because Uniteds’ talented but heart stopping goalkeeper, David De Gea, gave a performance today which reminded me of what Wilson said. His handling of crosses is diabolical. If a keeper comes out for a cross then his defence should know about it through a shout. This is something you learn at the age of eight. The fact that he ends up challenging his own defenders for a cross means either he’s not putting a shout up or worse, his defenders don’t trust him. On other occasions he flaps and completely misses the ball and creates chaos in his own area. A mistake of his from a cross on the 51st minute nearly caused a goal for Newcastle United. Newcastle fans were screaming at referee Howard Webb and linesman Darren Cann to award a goal after Papiss Cissé headed the ball goalbound following De Gea’s mistake. The referee and the linesman called it right due to the fact that they had to be sure it crossed the line. Having now seen the incident from more angles than a protractor can give, you still can’t be sure it’s a goal so how they can tell it in real time is a mystery. How the on form Papiss Cissé didn’put the ball away with almost the entire goal at his mercy is the biggest surprise. David De Gea did what he does best and made a fantastic instinctive save even if he did cause the problem in the first place, today, in the space of 30 seconds, we saw the best and the worst of our young Madridian goalkeeper.
David De Gea pulls off an amazing save from Papiss Cissé Continue reading Magpies squawk to high Evans – Newcastle United V Man United , 7th of October 2012