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BANGKOK 16 October 2018 17:51


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About redrus

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  1. redrus

    Manchester United

    I wasn't gonna do it but, Sunderlands added one now so I had to. Sunday Times: Would even Manchester United fans turn against Cristiano Ronaldo after his role in the downfalls of England and Wayne Rooney at the World Cup? That non-question was answered before kick-off when, somewhat predictably, Ronaldo’s name drew the biggest cheer when the line-ups were announced. But popularity was still the issue. This grandiloquently titled "International Club Friendly" was arranged to celebrate the £43m upgrade of Old Trafford, a development Sir Alex Feguson described as "beautiful," but the stadium didn’t look too comely half-empty. The upper deck of the Stretford End was deserted and swathes of unoccupied red seats scarred the rest of the vista. The attendance of 40,134 was 35,866 short of the ground’s new 76,000 capacity. This wasn’t in the Glazers’ business plan. United are used to better pre-season crowds and yesterday could be viewed as demonstrating how the club has slipped. Sevilla were the visitors only because sides such as Barcelona and Real Madrid declined invitations and the empty stands occurred despite tickets costing as little as £10 for adults and £5 for children and seniors. United’s £600m or so debts resulting from the Glazer family’s takeover means every penny — never mind £5 — counts. The builders have done their bit: as Ferguson wrote in his programme notes "now the onus is on the playing side to fill the stadium." Their efforts could not be faulted yesterday. After a first half several degrees chillier than tepid, United opened up to put three goals past the Uefa Cup holders. Ronaldo was central to two of them, cutting past Ivica Dragutinovic to set up Louis Saha for the opener and driving in a cross-cum-shot of a free kick from the left that Daniel Alves turned into his own net for 2-0. Substitute David Jones added a third in the final moments when, slipped through by a gorgeous pass from Keiran Richardson, he struck a powerful, low left-footed shot which Andres Palop allowed to pass under his body. There was also an encouragingly sound debut from Tomasz Kuszczak, who replaced Edwin Van Der Sar at half-time, and a huge ovation for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer when he came on. PA: Ronaldo may be preparing to face a gauntlet of hate in the Premiership this term but the United winger is assured of a warm embrace every time he steps out at the Theatre of Dreams. For all the mountain of headlines which accompanied Ronaldo at the World Cup, there was never any likelihood of a negative reaction among United fans to the winger's contribution to England's World Cup exit. The consternation in Red Devils' circles was more due to Ronaldo twice declaring his intention to quit United for Real Madrid. However, from the moment the former Sporting Lisbon player received a standing ovation the first time he jogged across to take a corner it was clear, just like Wayne Rooney, the United fans bear no grudges. And the 21-year-old began his own personal payback by delivering the low cross which saw Saha put United in front against the UEFA Cup winners, before finding the net himself as Daniel Alves sliced home his late, goalbound free-kick. On both occasions Ronaldo's team-mates raced over to a man and offered their hearty congratulations. redrus