Date: 29th September 2008 at 9:40am
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As a United fan you come to expect many things. Great football, goals, brilliant players, titles, angry rants from the manager and constant attempts by Real Madrid to unsettle our best players. OK, all the top clubs must put up with this last one but you get the point.

However, what you’ve got to expect above all is the general ABUism in all the British media. They just love to bash United all over the place and are not really bothered by facts. Supporters of rival clubs are obviously thriving on it so there’s no sign of abating.

Now it’s once again the dodgy penalties claim. We seem to be awarded dodgy penalties every time we play at Old Trafford. But who can name one? OK, Saturday’s incident was definitely not a penalty. And there was Ronaldo’s dive against Derby in the 92nd minute, with United 3-1 up. Hardly a game-changing goal, is it?

And before that… oh yes, you’ve got to know which one they will come up with. The Rooney one. And when it was? In 2004, for heaven’s sake! Four years ago! Three dodgy penalties during four years? But we are obviously the referee’s favourite.

As usual, the Mail and the BBC are leading the line. The former even enlisted Graham Poll – the ref who gave three yellow cards to a player in one game, the ref who committed many dreadful mistakes in the favour of United’s actual opposition. The Toure handball in April 2006, if you want an example.

Here’s what Poll came up with in the Daily Mail.

People have often asked why Sir Alex Ferguson comes out with
some of the statements he makes about referees and whether it has any effect on the officials, writes Graham Poll

The conclusion after Saturday`s match at Old Trafford must be that it does.

Oh my oh my oh my. And when was the conclusion when the same Rob Styles failed to award a single one of three stonewall penalties at Blackburn last season? There was none, apparently, that could happen to every team but only United benefit from incorrect decisions.

Bolton were well-organised and stubborn on Saturday but were totally outplayed. Only Jaaskalainen kept them in the game. Of course, he could have kept them in it till the end and that point could make a difference at the end of the season – but it’s unlikely to be that vital a game as it’s still only September.

That Blackburn game at Ewood Park last season, however, was absolutely vital. With only four games to go we were five points clear of Chelsea whom we still had to visit. Two defeats and they could have gone into the last day in pole position…

As you may remember, Blackburn took the lead through Roque Santa Cruz then United went on to absolutely batter them in the second half but Brad Friedel, once again, played the game of his life against us. However, he might not have been enough if Styles had done his job properly.

Samba tripped Rooney. Emerton handled the ball. Vogel hacked down Ronaldo from behind. All in the box. All clear penalties. None given. When Sir Alex blasted Styles after the game the consensus was that the pressure is now almost unbearable for United.

The post-match talk was about:
– our battling qualities (a compliment, wow)
– Hughes’ tactical aptitude (which is unquestionable in my opinion)
– Chelsea gathering momentum

Our title challenge could have been ruined by an incompetent ref but there was not one word, no demand for video technology. Styles did not say sorry – as he wants to do now, according to the papers. There was refereeing controversy though: it was discussed at great length that Rooney should have been sent off for an offence against Samba. Sweet, innit? Especially when the offence was already punished with a yellow card and it did not warrant more than that.

This double standard is sickening but we should expect it. And we do but it does not make it more bearable.