Cristiano Ronaldo News

Monday, January 01, 2007

The Season So Far: Part 2

28/12/2006 09:07 continues to look back on what has been an excellent start to the campaign with part two of our season so far feature...

Saha, so good…
Sir Alex spoke regularly last season of the benefits a fully-fit Louis Saha would bring to his starting XI. This term, his faith in the hitherto injury-prone striker has been validated. Swiftly out of the blocks in the trouncing of Fulham, he has hardly looked back. It took just 18 games for the Frenchman to reach double figures – including vital strikes against Chelsea and Celtic. Quite apart from his goalscoring contribution, the 28-year-old’s speed, movement and vision have been a major factor in the fluidity and attacking dynamism that has underscored United’s season to date.

Local news
The cold reality of a title chase is that every game carries equal weight; no three points are more valuable than any others. There are, however, those that seem so much sweeter. Invariably these are against local rivals, and in the first half of the season United have ruled the north-west with scant regard for the neighbours. Liverpool, Manchester City, Bolton, Blackburn, Everton and Wigan have all been swatted aside for the sum of 18 points, with only City and the Latics replying to United’s 16 goals. The Reds’ cut-throat seizure of traditionally tricky points at Ewood Park indicated the steely edge to United’s 2006/07 vintage. Last season’s corresponding six fixtures amassed 11 points, so we’re seven up already. For the time being United reign supreme in the north-west.

Player of the season?
For No.7 Cristiano Ronaldo, read public enemy No.1 as the season began. Condemned for his perceived role in England’s World Cup exit, he was booed by opposition fans around the country. But the criticism simply strengthened the 21-year-old’s resolve. For every boo, another step-over, for every jeer an increased incentive to silence the haters. In a tantalising opening-day performance against Fulham, Ronaldo bagged one goal and set up another. It wasn’t
long before away fans at Old Trafford decided to keep schtum. Our most consistent performer this season, Ron has netted six Premiership goals, including a scorching free-kick that fizzed past Pompey’s David James from almost 30 yards. But while he’s now matured into a potent threat from set pieces, it’s with the ball at his feet where he’s still most dangerous. Ronaldo won November’s Barclays Player Of The Month award and is surely a front-runner for United’s player of the year.

All right at the back
It’s no coincidence our best start to a Premiership campaign should coincide with the emergence of the most promising central defensive partnership since Dolly and Daisy. Just like Steve Bruce and Gary Pallister, Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic have been immense. Vidic, signed in January from Spartak Moscow, has looked particularly impressive. The Serbian giant’s game isn’t just about no-nonsense tackling and aerial power; he has proved his attacking worth with three vital goals. With Vidic in such commanding form, Rio Ferdinand has ventured forward with added confidence, as his. cool-as-you-like finish against Liverpool in October perfectly demonstrated. With real pace and an acute ability to read the game, he’s the south London silk to Vidic’s Serbian steel. United’s solid defensive displays certainly haven’t escaped the manager’s eye. “What the back four have done for us this season is absolutely fantastic,” Sir Alex said. “Of course, our form is not just down to them but, without question, they are the key to it.”


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