Sir Alex, Partisanship Is No Defence for Petulance

Alex StampCorrespondent IFebruary 23, 2009

Sir Alex Ferguson, speaking in the post-match press conference after Manchester United's victory over Blackburn was asked about Cristiano Ronaldo's reaction to a David Dunn challenge.


Ferguson, in response to the question stated that “The referee spoke to him when Ronaldo flicked out. The boy kicked him, Ronaldo flicked out but it was no more than that. The referee thought it was fine and gave him a warning.”

“You see it time and time again with Ronaldo, the press will make a meal of it. He has to live with that kind of examination. But it would have been a ridiculous sending off.”


Now, the partisanship of Ferguson's remarks are understandable, Ronaldo is a United player, and arguably their most influential. It is quite understandable that Ferguson will aim to protect his player, and by focusing on the initial act that perpetuated that response

Ferguson is understandably hoping to prevent such acts from becoming a common occurrence.


That point is fair enough, football has lost too many of its finest players far too early to injury. No-one wants Ronaldo's career to end in the tragically premature way that Van Basten's did.


However, the issue surely is not that Ronaldo reacted in such a way once to a random overly-aggressive challenge, but that he continues to keep reacting is such a way.


This is just the latest in a growing list of petulant kicks and flicks out at players making challenges on Ronaldo, just ask Michael Dawson and Ryan Shawcross.


In defending Ronaldo's behaviour, and instead blaming others for focusing it, (a natural response in light of Ronaldo's fame and importance to United) surely Ferguson is merely condoning such behaviour?


But this is where Ferguson, and especially Ronaldo must remember that no player, regardless of style, status, or quality, is above the law.


The referee's are there to uphold the law, and protect the players. Ronaldo must remember this, rather than petulantly reacting to his own set of rules, he must trust that he will be kept out of harms way by officials.


Furthermore, by greeting these aggressive challenges with such a response surely Ronaldo is simply providing further encouragement to those who want to unsettle him. Now player's will know how he responds, they will target him even more, and one day Ronaldo could be punished appropriately by a referee.


Such aggressive tactics are often a sign of respect, teams will not target players they do not perceive a threat, and Ronaldo's skill and style, as well as his status will always make him a target.

Players of his ilk have throughout football history been subjected to such aggressive challenges, Lionel Messi suffered similar treatment recently against Real Madrid. It is merely a grudging mark of respect.


However, Ronaldo must not fight fire with fire, he must trust that the referees, the upholders of footballing law, will keep him out of harms way, rather than simply taking matters into his own hands.


But in publicly defending Ronaldo, surely Sir Alex, who is by no means the only manager to offer partisan views on issues, far from deterring Ronaldo from reacting in such a way, is encouraging him to do so.


And if he continues to respond in such a way, it could well be Manchester United who suffer the consequences.