Date: 15th February 2010 at 9:42am
Written by:

Alan Hansen is still a rubbish pundit. I don’t think anyone’s surprised but really, he just can’t grasp even the basics of football which is quite astonishing for someone who was supposed to be a world-class defender in his prime.

In his column for the Telegraph, Hansen writes:

‘Beckham has never been one of the best footballers in the world’

Second only to Rivaldo in the 1999 Ballon d’Or voting after a magnificent season in which he played a vital part in propelling a great side to unprecedented heights. I would say that makes him pretty much one of the best players in the world. Better than Hansen ever was, certainly.

But it’s not over yet, Hansen is not satisfied with only one totally nonsensical statement.

‘Rooney has stood up to the plate and improved remarkably well in the absence of Ronaldo this season and, certainly during United’s dark days this season, he carried the team on his own. But if Ronaldo had still been at United, they would have been home-and-hosed in the Premier League simply because of the goals he would have scored.’

Well this kind of simplistic approach always makes me scream in frustration. It ignores that Rooney’s improvement is largely down to Ronaldo’s absence; it ignores that the magnificent contribution of one individual is rarely enough to elevate a team above all challengers (exhibit A: Wayne Rooney and Manchester United, this season) and it also ignores basic facts.

Like the fact that United scored 62 goals in 26 league games this season. At the same stage last season we had 46 goals to our name, with Ronaldo in the team. So there’s no evidence at all to support the claim that we would be home and dry in the Premier League with Ronaldo in the team because it doesn’t work like that. You could say that Rooney scored 21 goals, Ronaldo would surely have scored at least 15 by now so we would have 77 goals which is insane at this stage. But, I repeat, it does not work like that.

Also, Hansen also forgets that the last two title victories were as much based on a magnificent defensive record as on Ronaldo’s brilliance. Indeed, I would say that last season’s success was mostly down to the back five – Ronaldo’s 18 goals came handy but they hardly represented a one-man show, you can’t really say he single-handedly won us the title – the defence was the most important.

And that is what’s been disrupted this season more often than what’s healthy. The Vidic-Ferdinand pairing was on the pitch for a grand total of 4 league games; Van der Sar has yet to hit double figures in appearances in the Premier League and that’s the prime reason why we are one point behind Chelsea in the league, not Ronaldo’s departure which will be most keenly felt in the Champions League, I believe.