Woodgate absolves Ronaldo in diving row
Posted by Dresonic on March 21, 2007
It is not an opinion widely held on Teesside, but last night Jonathan Woodgate punctured the latest controversy surrounding Cristiano Ronaldo when he absolved the Portuguese winger of diving for the penalty that earned Manchester United a place in the FA Cup semi-finals.
That the 75th minute award on Monday was even a matter of debate after the England defender clearly connected with Ronaldo illustrates the depth of Middlesbrough’s grievance following two contentious penalty decisions in games against United this season, frustration that resulted in some of their coaching staff shouting “cheat” at the 22-year-old during the quarter-final, substitute James Morrison seeing red for a wild lunge on the player and assistant manager at Old Trafford, Carlos Queiroz, involved in a furious row with the opposition’s staff after the final whistle.
“A guilt complex,” was how Sir Alex Ferguson described Boro’s reaction, before raging at a Sky television interview with Ronaldo in which the midfielder revealed a depth of the English language that would make many natives blush, and though Woodgate insisted it was debatable he had fouled his opponent, a sentiment shared by Boro manager Gareth Southgate, the defender was adamant his club had not been cheated out of the FA Cup.
“I don’t know if it was a penalty but Ronaldo is a very clever player. He is one of the best in the world and whether it was a penalty or not, I don’t know. I couldn’t honestly tell myself,” he said. “Ronaldo is a fantastic player. There is a touch of genius in him and to be fair he lights up the Premiership. I don’t think he dived so you can’t put the blame on him.”
Woodgate reported for England duty yesterday with a knee injury that has troubled him for several weeks and which may make him a doubt for the European Championship qualifiers against Israel and Andorra.
Meanwhile Southgate has responded angrily to criticism from the Sheffield United manager, Neil Warnock, that he had acted “scandalously” in fielding a weakened team at home to relegation-threatened Manchester City last weekend, a game Boro lost and which heightened fears of the drop at Bramall Lane.
“I don’t think we’ve been disrespectful to anybody and, quite frankly, I’ll pick who I want,” said Southgate. “I felt we needed to do that [on Saturday] to have a chance against United in the FA Cup.
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