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Room for improvement for naive Rafael

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Alistair Magowan - BBC Sport | 09:39 UK time, Monday, 17 January 2011

Before Sunday's goalless draw between Tottenham and Manchester United, Sir Alex Ferguson was happy to sing the praises of his right-back Rafael.

"He's not making any rash decisions," the United manager said in the build-up to one of the season's most widely-anticipated games. "He was quite an impulsive young boy last season but he is the kind of thing we invest in and we are getting that return now."

Rafael's dismissal during the game at White Hart Lane following a second yellow card for tripping Benoit Assou-Ekotto may lead to a reassessment of those comments. But former Arsenal right-back and Match of the Day 2 pundit Lee Dixon believes the 20-year-old Brazilian is slowly maturing into a natural successor for Gary Neville.

"I thought we saw all sides of him on Sunday," Dixon said of Rafael. "As a right-back, his main job was to contain Tottenham's in-form winger Gareth Bale - and I think he did a good job, although he did show his naivety at times."

The first of Rafael's cautions came following a first-half tackle on Wilson Palacios and was probably deserved. The second after 74 minutes was "unlucky", according to Dixon. The United defender caught the heels of Assou-Ekotto as the Spurs player was on the attack.

The cruel irony was that Rafael was performing well against Bale up until that point, demonstrating that he could combine defensive duties with attacking forays of his own. That was in contrast to his performance during the 2-0 victory for Manchester United against Spurs earlier this season, when he was also tasked with marshalling the Welshman.

Last October, Rafael kept Bale in check by remaining disciplined, curbing his attacking instincts once United had taken an early lead. On Sunday, with the game remaining goalless, Rafael's ventures down the right flank were far more frequent. Had he shown more composure in the final third, he could have set up chances for his team-mates or even scored himself from two separate opportunities that came his way.

At Old Trafford last autumn, Rafael made only four passes in Tottenham's half. On Sunday, that number rose to 14.


He also showed his attacking intent, with seven dribbles at a success rate of 71%. Bale dribbled the ball four times, with only half of them ending up with a Tottenham player in possession.

In defence, Rafael was never too far from Bale, winning seven of his 11 tackles overall and making four interceptions.

So even though he did not complete either match this term against Tottenham, Rafael certainly contributed to Manchester United's two clean sheets against Harry Redknapp's side - and Tottenham have only been denied a goal on only three other occasions this season.

Dixon believes Rafael's performances have been commendable, particularly against Bale, but thinks harder tests will come when his opponent is not quite so "in his face".

"It can help playing someone like Bale when you are tight on him because you start higher up the pitch anyway," added Dixon. "I still think Rafael has some work to do on his defensive game but Sunday also suited him because he almost went man for man on Bale at times.

"The test for young full-backs is when they haven't got anybody up against them. When do you cover your centre-backs? How much cover do you put on? And where do you need to be in relation to them?

"The position has slightly changed over the years. When I was playing, I could go forward when the ball was on my side of the pitch. When the ball was on the other flank, I would provide cover for the other defenders.

"Today, lots of teams are playing with holding midfield players who sit in front of the back four so you sometimes get both full-backs going forward at the same time."

Rafael had Michael Carrick and Darren Fletcher to thank for offering him that insurance in midfield on Sunday. Centre-back Nemanja Vidic also drew many plaudits for his performance, which Dixon described as "awesome", but Rio Ferdinand's covering role was just as crucial.


As a result, Bale had a mixed day although his pass completion rate and crossing improved compared to the last time these two sides met.

One of his brightest moments came just before half-time, when Spurs defender Michael Dawson fizzed a pass to him. Once Bale had ghosted by Rafael, he crossed for Rafael van der Vaart, who narrowly headed wide.

There was a similar incident earlier in the game but Peter Crouch failed to gamble on getting his head on Bale's cross.

Bale may have to acknowledge that Rafael has come out on top in their two battles this term. But Dixon believes that the Brazilian has a long way to go if he wants to match those who have performed at right-back for United in the past.

"He has a lot of potential and only time will tell if he can play the right-back from a positional point of view," Dixon stated.

"Good full-backs don't get noticed that much if they are in the right position when their team do not have the ball. You might notice them going forward but, as far as defensive duties are concerned, you notice them more when they are not in position than when they are."

If going unnoticed is a good sign, then Rafael certainly has some work to do, given his emotive reaction to being sent off in Sunday's game.

But how would you rate his performance against Bale and what of his future prospects? Have Manchester United finally found the player to replace Gary Neville?

You can also send your ideas for future analysis to me on Twitter


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  • Comment number 1.

    Can't help but feel if Rafael was an Arsenal full-back Dixon would have had a different opinion. Last night was one of Rafael's poorer performance's this season and he still managed to keep Bale relatively quiet. I think that tells you what you need to know about his ability and potential.

    United's major problem was wastefulness with possession in the middle of the park, that put United's defense under far more pressure then was necessary. Nani also failed to deliver meaning Rafael was forced to get up field and support more often (hence the higher number of passes). United will need to sign at least one top quality central midfielder in the Summer.

    On another note United are yet to concede against the other top 5 sides this seasons alot of which is down to Rafael's development along with the immense performance's of Vidic and Ferdinand in the middle.

  • Comment number 2.

    Really agree with #1, Rafael has had a really good season and it is really telling that United have looked a lot weaker whenever Gary Neville has been playing instead.

    Their back 5 are all looking strong at the moment but their midfield is far from top class. I thought Carrick had a hopeless first half yesterday. If Fergie can only bring in one player in the summer it should be in central midfield.

    It was a good game to watch as a neutral though even with the lack of goals. Modric was the best midfield player on display, head and shoulders above the rest but Vidic was the best player on the park.

  • Comment number 3.

    Agree with the first two posts that the midfield is the major problem for United at the moment.

    As for Rafael and his maturity, the kid is only 20 and has improved vastly from last year. Over the next few years he will develop into one of, if not the, best right back in the world. He kept Bale quiet, even though he is apparently better than Messi, both at WHL and OT, and as the first choice right back, he is the man to replace Neville. Quality all round, he is almost the complete player, almost.

  • Comment number 4.

    Good to see the young man getting some recognition. People often forget just how young he is. How many other 20 year old full backs have ever turned in the displays he has in both the Premier League and Champions League?

    Have to disagree strongly about yesterday being evidence that he still is prone to "rash" decisions though. There was absolutely nothing "rash" about his red card. It was a simple collision with no intent whatsoever. The only rashness that was on display came from Mike Dean.

  • Comment number 5.

    In terms of the midfield area, Man Utd are missing a Hargreaves-type player. Finding someone of that quality will be difficult and expensive. Hargreaves himself looks to be close to the end of his career, but I wish him luck in his comeback and hope he plays again.

  • Comment number 6.

    I think SAF has realised that Gary's legs have gone and he is now possibly as low as 4th or 5th choice RB (Rafael, Wesley Brown, O'Shea, Fabio as well) - Rafael's improvement is good to see, but (although being a bit unlucky against Spurs) he has done exactly the same again as he did against Munich in April - he has to learn, and learn quickly.

    He was a major contributor to Utd going out of the ECL last season, Spurs could have conceivably gone on to snatch all 3 points when he was sent off here - at what point will someone take him to one side an explain that his enthusiasm, although commendable, will actually cost his side with needless free kicks and cards being given against him.

    Rafael has all the attributes required to be a top footballer, let's hope he has the mental ability to match it!

    PS - agree with Radar - Carrick has been hopeless for 18 months, please get rid of him as he gives the ball away 50% of the time. 'Lass' from Madrid perhaps in to replace him?

  • Comment number 7.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 8.

    Only time will tell if Rafael's going to be a world-class player, but one thing's for sure: Gary Neville certainly isn't these days. It seems to be about time he hung up his boots. If Rafael can channel his enthusiasm into being in the right place and doing the right thing rather than mindlessly chasing lost balls, he might just make it to the top.

  • Comment number 9.

    Rafael knew what he was doing with that second challenge yesterday, I've done it myself. You know if you run that close to someone you will probably catch them. The problem was Rafael was naive enought to think he could get away with it.

  • Comment number 10.

    Rafael is now an excellent player. Yes, he makes the odd mistake, but so does every player. The sending off was wrong.

    G Neville should NEVER play in a professional game for Utd EVER again.

    Naveen KB wrote: For me if Gerard tackle is red so is Rafael's

    ** Rafael's tackle was not two-footed and he slid into the challenge rather than jumping into it.

  • Comment number 11.

    Naveen KB - from what I saw Rafael was right on top of Bale from the start of the match. It was interesting that he took a different approach from Old Trafford as he was very quick to close him down and was pretty combative in the process. Some of the runs he had going forward were really exciting too, very Maicon or Cafu-like.

    Full-back play always fascinates me as it is always a position I like to watch and even play myself. You can quickly see when a player in that role is struggling, as the decision making on when to close down a player or when to cover in defence can be tricky, which is the point Dixon is making.

    Rafael looks like he is on the way in this aspect and it will be interesting to see who replaces him now he is out for a few games and whether United miss him.

  • Comment number 12.

    FINALLY, i've seen some other people that see (as i do) that Carrick is not good enough for United! For someone who is in the team to link up play and even pick out a few top passes he just doesn't deliver anymore! A replacement for him and, as some others have mentioned, a Hargreaves-type player (Lass from Madrid?) will sure up the team.

    As a United fan I have to say I hate Rafael! The only way he managed to 'deal' with Bale was because he could keep up with him.. He was caught out of position too many times and only managed to salvage a couple due to his pace. He's far too hot-headed and needs to grow up quick or he wont progress. From what i've seen of his brother Fabio, I prefer him; still got the pace but seems a lot calmer.. Just a shame he insists on being a left-back when he'll never get past Evra (who did a great job against Lennon and if he came up against Bale, would put him in his place!)

  • Comment number 13.

    Lot of rubbish this talking about how bad Rafael played, he managed to stop bale which was his job, and anyone with a set of eyes can see it was not a sending off, but of course he plays for man u and all the ref's in the country worship united appartently.

  • Comment number 14.

    PS rafael got the ball with his tackle, no card needed.
    Now last week when gerrard was sent off everyone was saying it wasnt a red because he touched the ball, funny how things change, gerrard did not get the ball, he was studs up and had no intention but to hurt carrick, it was clear for everyone to see. swings and roundabouts, if gerrard had not have dived on his previous visit as did torres who tried to have o'shea sent off then i would not even be typing right now, but what do these players expect, gerrard won a penalty via a dive and scored it, berba won a penalty via a dive with contact and scored, torres tried to have o'shea sent off but alas on the next game gerrrad went.... karma

  • Comment number 15.

    "it will be interesting to see who replaces him now he is out for a few games and whether United miss him."

    Rafael is only suspended for one match, I wouldn't be surprised to see Fabio used next weekend, Fergie may even choose to drop Fletcher back into defence. It shouldn't matter too much as it's a home game and United's form has been outstanding at Old Trafford.

  • Comment number 16.

    It does seem central midfield is the weak(er) point of the team, no shortage of solid professionals (scholes, fletcher, gibson) and one potentially excellent player (anderson), carrick and hargreaves can essentially be disregarded (MC i imagine may be on borrowed time and OH must be (v dissapointingly) almost almost ready to call time. But Im sure, based on past form, AF wont be inclined to pick up anyone in the Jan window unless they were a proven premiership player and ready to draft straight into the team (no time for a bedding in period), and of course are any better than those already at Old Trafford (thats of course even if he thinks he needs to strenghthen his squad, who lets not forget are UNBEATEN so far, to coin a phrase, if it aint broke...). Another factor to consider is the sheer number of loans taking place, as teams simply dont have the capital to buy (Do Man U really have any cash to spend?) AF has previous when it comes to that (Larsson, Goram). I think there are only a few candidates that would tick enough boxes (and who's club may sanction a deal). Diarra at Real would offer something theres no doubt (but there must be something inherently de-stabilising about him based on the sheer number of clubs he's had, would AF be willing?! May work out on a loan until the end of the season). And what about getting Cleverly back from Wigan. But for me the standout targets are Charlie Adam (creative, PL proven, likely to be cheapish, fellow scot) and Scott Parker (PL proven, disciplined, excellent attitude, good for squad quotas). I thought SP was going to Man U back in the day but went to Chelsea instead, he had the makings of an ok Roy Keane replacement, still good enough to take on that role. May be a victim of the big fish/small pond scenario though, could he do the same job at OT?

    Man Utd could win the PL without a force in the centre (a la Arsenal & Fab/Nasri, Chelsea & Lamps/Essien (when on form), Spurs & Modric) and if they do it will be triumph in overall squad togetherness (as only a handful of players have fleetingly scaled heights, Nani, Berbatov) and defensive strength (Rio and Vidic are approaching their very best from a couple of season ago)

    Long term they need some class in the middle. Cleverly, Anderson, Henderson maybe? Even Adam may prove to be a long-termer.

    And then theres just the small matter of when Jose will take over the reigns??!!

  • Comment number 17.

    5 live were debating at half time whether Rafael shoud be taken off or not, or if he was a red card waiting to happen ...... will be interesting to see if he can learn & adapt or not.
    Ronney's rant about a 'banker' was nice for my kids to watch too.
    re: post 14..that's why you shouldn't post after excessive drinking.

  • Comment number 18.

    I'm a Spurs fan but I must admit that I quite like Rafael and I thought he had at least a decent game, (before his early exit).

    That said, I do not agree with some of the above posts.

    I think his constant antagonistic attitude (some would simply call it dissent), is as much as anything the reason why he did not finish the game, and had he acted differently, (demanding that opponents be sent off and disputing every decision vehemently), then he might have played the full 90. Some experienced and established players get away with this type of behaviour, (no need to name them), however young Rafael needs to learn a lesson here.

    Sometimes it is just better to put your hand up and apologise rather than getting a refs back up. I don't think it was 2 specific fouls that saw him recieve 2 yellows. I think it was the way he acted consistantly over the course of the game.

    While I would like to see this sort of refereeing become more common and more consistant, (and in that respect Rafael might count himself unlucky), "lucky" or "unlucky" does not tell the whole story and behind closed doors this week Rafael will be schooled on communication with the ref.

    As full-backs in the modern game see so much of the ball and are often the automatic "Out-ball", it's not lost on me that the best teams usually contain the best ful-backs, (one reason why Liverpool are struggling so much of late).

  • Comment number 19.

    Rafael is improving - not at his best yert but certtainly getting there. Comparisons to previous UNited Full-backs aree difficult as Gary Neville held the position for so long and Denis Irwin or Phil Neville would cover for him all of whom were excellent players.

    Time is on his side though but he does need to be wiser and not get himself booked for silly offences. He would have been better off simply sprinting past Assou-Ekotto and letting Fletcher mark him until he could get into a good covering position

    As for #8 - Rumour has it Gary Neville is retiring at the end of the season

  • Comment number 20.

    Oh and on the Rafael subject, he is 1st choice and rightly so. Thankfully with Vidic/Rio/Evra playing like a solid unit, there is scope to 'carry' a weaker link (although I dont for one minute think Rafael is not worthy of being in the starting 11) Just imagine for one minute the scenario of Evans, Brown or O'Shea partnering each other in the middle, Rafael's eagerness to defend may get him into more trouble having to mop up any errors on the part of the aforementioned. He's getting a jolly good bedding-in period playing alongside a VERY solid unit, which must in turn be giving him extra confidence, and good luck to him, he's improving as the weeks go on. He's not yet officially part of the defensive unit himself like Gary Neville was in his prime, rather a more than welcome guest. But if the back four stay fit and they win the PL, it could be the making of a very good unit for a few more seasons (if you condider that Smallings could ultimately be a like for like replacement for fragile Rio)

  • Comment number 21.

    Rafael in 3 or 4 years will be the best RB in the world - if it even takes that long! Some of his runs yesterday were sensational, and he played brilliantly defensively as he has all season! As for covering his CB's, I remember a game a few weeks ago where Vidic got caught on the ball, but Rafa raced across and made a superb tackle to deny a goal. He already is the real deal!
    As for the sending off, I doubt the first one was even a yellow card! He played the ball first, was not 2 footed, and didnt go in over the ball. I think the ref was very rash with that decision. His foot was a little high, but that's because Palacios flicked the ball up, so are we saying that every time the oppostion player lifts the ball a foot off the floor, no tackle is allowed?? What really infuriates me, is Crouch went OVER the ball with his studs not 5 mins later, and didnt get a yellow card!!! Where is the consistency in refereeing??

    As for Carrick, I can't believw he is still picked by Fergie. On his day, he is fantastic, but sadly those days are too few and far between. He is too slow, gives the ball away too much, and doesnt get goals. Especially when you considert he recent form of Anderson, Fergie's midfield selection is mystifying!

  • Comment number 22.

    To those anti carrick comments have a look at some real facts,
    We are missing rooney playing at his best the midfield was ok except from nani who had a bad day.

  • Comment number 23.

    #18 worte: I think his constant antagonistic attitude (some would simply call it dissent), is as much as anything the reason why he did not finish the game, and had he acted differently, (demanding that opponents be sent off and disputing every decision vehemently), then he might have played the full 90. Some experienced and established players get away with this type of behaviour, (no need to name them),
    I'll name a few, Gallas, Palacios, Van der Vaart! Every decision, they were instantly around the ref like flies.
    VDV was also throwing himself about like a dying swan all game. Yet no card for diving at any point. He also made a late tackle against Fletcher late in the game which should have been a booking, butit wasnt given.
    I agree, that waving imaginary cards i disgusting etc. but in some instances, like yesterday, there is only usually one way to get the right punishment out of the poor ref's we have these days. Although, it was good to see Rio give him a clip round the ear and tell him exactly what he thought of Rafael's card waving!

  • Comment number 24.

    21# I think it will still be a while before Rafael can be considered with the best right backs in the world.

  • Comment number 25.

    I thought (up untill sending off) he had a fairly good game. He's definitely going to be a good player, he has pace and ability on the ball and when he's concentrating is pretty good defensively. I thought the sending off looked pretty harsh (& I'm a Spurs fan) but as #9 says, players do sometimes deliberately run into the back of other players legs can only assume the ref thought thats what had happened. Bet he got a rollicking from Fergie though!

  • Comment number 26.


    Yeah I agree to a certain extent. I'm not saying that Spurs players don't do it, and of course I'm not suggesting that Spurs players shouldn't be judged in the same way.

    The difference is that they didn't get sent off.

    I thought Vidic was MOM and I thoght Rio's leadership was brilliant.

    As this particular blog is discussing Rafael though I restricted my comments to him.

    In general it seems to be a continental attitude, (demanding cards be shown), and from a Spurs point of view it is Kaboul and Gallas who get on my boobs with that, (while Palacios should keep shtuum as those who live by the sword tend to die by it too).

    I also do not agree that refs are poorer nowadays than they were 10 years ago or 20 years ago. They are scrutinised more and have a harder job, (more pressure and faster pace of the game), but I think that some of the current refs are brilliant. I think that it is simply a case of their mistakes being highlighted more than woudl have happened in days gone by.

    How long ago was the 10 yard rule for dissent introduced and then done away with? That should never have been scrapped. As for diving and demanding cards be shown, I think that it is down to leaders on the pitch, (like Rio) and strong managers and coaches off it, who have the best chance of eradicating this blight on our game.

    There are a few decent right backs about, but I think that young Rafael is looking like he might give any of them a run for his money in the years to come if he can just get his communication with officials a little more..... ref-friendly.

  • Comment number 27.

    I was at Old Trafford way back in May 1994, when a young full back called Gary Neville made his league debut for Utd, now all these years later I see Rafael developing in exactly the same way as Neville did.

    The thing that seperates the two players though, is that Neville with the greatest respect has had to work hard at his game, he's not a natural footballer. Rafael is a much more natural player, has a few more tricks in his bag. Neville was for a long time England's best right back, and one of the top right backs in the world, now sadly on the decline never having fully recovered from injury, the baton has been passed to Rafael, who in a year or so will be amongst Europe's and the Worlds best right backs.

    As for the complaints over his attitude, I'm of the school of thought and I may be one of the few, that yes let him moan, let him complain, as long as he's not abusive with it. He obviously felt harshly treated yesterday and so made his point. I would suggest though that through media pressure, should Utd appeal the second yellow card, the dessent would be called into play and he'd still end up banned.

  • Comment number 28.

    #24 - please read the very first sentence of my post:

    "in 3 or 4 years".

    #26 - good post, well said. Can't disagree with any of your points. :)

  • Comment number 29.

    Rafael is a good player - but this rashness, can this be got rid of? If teams have a go at him (Munich, Spurs) he seems to get hot headed and makes mistakes. As a Leeds fan I hope he struggles, but can still see him being a top world player.

    I think some Man U fans dont watch things properly, Carrick has been rubbish for a while yes, but against Spurs he was brilliant. His defensive play and awareness was awsome, especially the second half. It might now be the case he might be converted to a more tradional defensive mid and stick to the defensive part of the game.

    More worryingly for you lot is Rooney's lack of form and no sign of improving. Might it be worth selling him for a large fee to allow you to spend it on replacements? I assume Ocean Finances wont have sorted out your debt for the Glazers to pump more money into the transfer budget (Sorry for my sarcasm, I know a few good Man U fans, but have had to deal with mostly chumps)

  • Comment number 30.

    #15 whoops you are right. One-match ban for two yellow cards, it was a late night!

    As for the issue of Rafael's attitude Lee Dixon told me his first booking was down to inexperience: "Young players do that," he said. "They haven’t got the experience to know when to pull out of tackles when they know they might not get the ball back.

    "We saw other sides to him like flashing yellow cards to try and get other players booked which is not going to do him any favours in the long run, and also his frustration and anger at the referee at the end. That comes with a lack of experience and a keenness to do well."

    What do you think?

  • Comment number 31.

    probably true - I'm suer Rio will cure him of the card waving and hopefully he will become a little bit calmer in his play

  • Comment number 32.

    I play as a wing-back for my local club and in my opinion, Rafael has the makings of a fantastic player. Going forward, he has pace, control and his final ball is improving constantly. Defensively he still has a lot to learn (my team-mates would say that's rich coming from me!!) Yesterday one-on-one I thought Bale had the better of him, but Ferdinand and Vidic were excellent and the cover Ferd offered Rafael gave him the edge over young Gareth. Something that has struck me for a while is Man Utd's central midfield. I highly rate Fletcher, I think he is a tireless worker, with simple, sensible, but effective passing. Michael Carrick is the real problem. His passing is sloppy, his positional play is frankly atrocious and he doesn't have an aptitude for either defence or attack. SAF should start playing Anderson alongside Fletcher. However, Carrick is the man who is generally charged with the ball into the final third, it would seem. He is not being helped here by Rooney's poor form. Rooney is rarely in a position that gives Carrick (or anyone else) a killer final ball. But this is why I feel Anderson is a better option as he can pull the play into the final third far better than Carrick.

  • Comment number 33.

    Rafael did well, though still showed signs of his naievity, brandishing imaginary cards at the referee and even after receiving the first booking he was still going in as recklessly as ever. Even though the second yellow was unwarranted I think everyone had the feeling it was just a matter of time before he mistimed a challenge and was off.

    He's young and his over zealous behaviour is actually reminiscent of Rooney's and he needs to balance that passion with a cooler head. Can't believe I'm saying this but probably looking at Ashley Cole wouldn't be a bad thing.

  • Comment number 34.

    29. More worryingly for you lot is Rooney's lack of form and no sign of improving. Might it be worth selling him for a large fee to allow you to spend it on replacements? I assume Ocean Finances wont have sorted out your debt for the Glazers to pump more money into the transfer budget (Sorry for my sarcasm, I know a few good Man U fans, but have had to deal with mostly chumps)


    Statistically speaking for the minutes he has played this season Rooney has provided a ton of assists, scored a few and generally done his duty in all parts of the pitch. Depsite popular belief he's not playing badly, he's playing well, just not exceptionally as of old.

    Give the lad a break, like United he's still playing well despite not firing on all cylinders. Give him some game time and he will come good.

  • Comment number 35.

    #26 (Jimbokav1971), I have to agree on your ref comments (apologies, this is meant to be Rafael forum). The level of scrutiny these days is just immense. Skysports/ESPN are the guilty party to some degree, always looking to sensationalise and find a story, officials are easy targets, managers soon picked up on the trend and realised they had an easy scapegoat when matches didnt go their way (made more acute by the presence of screens in dugouts) Its a much touted idea, but if you could somehow give players and managers a first hand experience of what its like to be a match official then they may understand how quickly decisions have to be made, slo-mo replays present an unequivocably inaccurate real-time experience. For this reason, the notion of post-match punishment must be given more focus and more clarity, yet with an eye on not undermining the credibilty of the match day officials. Perpetrators musnt be seen to go unpunished (card waving for one has to be a punishable offence). I dont see why refs cant be hooked up with a head cam, or at the very least a mic. Rugby, the oft-touted gentlemens sport, still in these days of moneyed professionalism, has relativley well behaved players and something must be able to be learned from their methods of officaldom

    The misconception is that officials are worse than in the past because there are more mistakes being made. The fact is that these mistakes are highlighted more by angry managers and replayed thanks (in no small part) to the likes of messrs. Gray and Keys.

    Its belies human nature to be able take a cold and calculated view of the world. Opinions, judgements and immpressions of people are all part of exisiting. To bring it back to subject, Rafael's overall demenour is his one major negative and any human, let alone referee, would find it difficult not to come to a, likely negative, conclusion in the (very up close and personal) face of aggressive and agitated behavour. Rafael, much like Bowyer, has begun to get his number marked by punters and viewers and more worryingly opposition. Shrewd, and within the law, managers will take avantage of such a suspect temperament, CL semi with Mourinho's Real anyone? It'd be wise for him to try and curb his confrontational habits (with the hands-on help of someone like Rio) otherwise he risks being marked for good

    I wish one day a manager would stand up and vilify a ref for a decision that was wrong, but went for his team rather than against them.

  • Comment number 36.

    Was I watching a different game?

    Rafael got skinned nearly every time Bale got a chance to take him on.

    A dangerous, rash, high tackle on Palacios which was a definite yellow, borderline red. Waving imaginary yellow cards for other tackles, persistent fouling even after his yellow and then a completely intentional trip that saw him sent off, followed by yet another display of a lack of respect for the referee by both him and Rooney screaming in the referee's face with Rooney even directly calling the referee an ******* ******.

    I certain other Rafael wasn't far wrong when he delivered his calm assessment of Mr Ferguson's influence over Premiership referees a couple of years ago.

  • Comment number 37.

    Was Lee Dixon being defensively naive when Giggs skinned him TWICE on the same run in 1999?
    Personally, I thought Rafael was one of the best players on the pitch yesterday and Bale achieved nothing along with the rest of Tottenhams 'creative' players. NB - This also applies to United but it was up to Spurs to take the game to United more, due to being at home and behind on points in the league.
    I would think a lack of creativity on Spurs' part would have made a more worthwhile blog. (especially when the outnumbered us in midfield for a large portion of the game and then shortly after we shore up the midfield, Rafael is wrongly sent off)
    Rafael will soon be (within 2 years), the best right back in the world.
    I cannot understand Dixons comments when this young lad has come in, helped towards clean sheets vs Arsenal, City (away), Liverpool last weekend, and now twice vs Tottenham without mentioning the fact that he is getting up and down easily as well as showing high skill levels in flicking it over players heads, showing great pace and crossing ability?
    He deserved his red card vs Bayern last year and I would certainly have put that down to naivity but yesterday was a poor refereeing decision. Not naivity.
    Rafael will be twice the player Dixon was. Lets be honest, Dixon only knew how to stand in line with 3 other blokes! Possibly why he obtained minimal England caps despite being part of a water-tight back 4!

  • Comment number 38.

    On the point of "inexperience"...

    It is true that "inexperience" was the *reason* these events happened, but it is not itself an *excuse* for what happened. It does not disclaim him of responsibility for his actions.

    He deserved to be sent off, and his reaction and actions immediately after should earn his a warning/fine/ban from the FA. It's in the rules - failure to leave the pitch in a proper manner, or something like that.

    This "experience" will teach that he was wrong and should not act like that in the future, otherwise he will just do the same again - at which point, should we blame his "inexperience" yet again or a failure of the officials to clearly set out what is right and wrong.

  • Comment number 39.

    "36. At 2:30pm on 17 Jan 2011, r1ch wrote:
    Was I watching a different game? "


    Answered simply:


  • Comment number 40.

    Rafael got skinned nearly every time Bale got a chance to take him on.

    A dangerous, rash, high tackle on Palacios which was a definite yellow, borderline red. Waving imaginary yellow cards for other tackles, persistent fouling even after his yellow and then a completely intentional trip that saw him sent off, followed by yet another display of a lack of respect for the referee by both him and Rooney screaming in the referee's face with Rooney even directly calling the referee an ******* ******.

    Spot on - that is how I saw the game: Bale skinned him several times - insode and out and was onlt let down by his own poor crossing.
    Rafael did ok coming forward, but deserves no sympathy for the yellow/red - penance for the card waving bit!!

    As for full backs on the day, the best by a country mile was Spurs LB Ekotto, who was attacked as useless by Hansen and co last week. He had a really good game and Nani ended up being subbed having not contributed at all.

  • Comment number 41.

    @r1ch, you have mentioned him waving an imaginary card. That was wrong I agree and from the commontary Rio gave him a telling off for doing that. However you also mention his sending off against Bayern last season, which if you recall Mr Ribbery did exactly the same thing to the ref.. I'm not saying 2 wrongs make a right far from it, but his experience is that you wave a card and the ref responds. That will be worked out of him.

    As for yesterday, the first foul was no more borderline red than Crouch's tackle that went unpunished, or the continual moaning by RVV, especially after he was booked for kicking the ball away.

    I previously stated that, should Utd decide to appeal (which I doubt they will) the yellow card his actions after the card will probably lead to a ban anyway. So he'll serve his punishment. However it does seem that as with Utd's previous long term right back, Rafael is going to be disliked up and down the land, whilst constantly putting in top draw displays and never really getting the credit he deserves.

  • Comment number 42.

    "I would think a lack of creativity on Spurs' part would have made a more worthwhile blog. (especially when the outnumbered us in midfield for a large portion of the game"

    Were you watching the same game? Spurs played a midfield 2 (Modrich and Palacios) with van der Vaart platying behind Crouch. Lennon and Bale stuck to the wings throughout. United had Fletcher and Carrick together with Giggs who played much more as a left side MF. Hows that being outnumbered????

  • Comment number 43.

    Rafael is going to be the best in 1 year i.e. this time next year. He shut out Bale for a long period and was united's most creative outlet and I thought he wasn't at his best. He will improve no doubt about it . He will be a massive outlet for not only our defence but also our attack. But Fabio progress will be crucial to our defence . Apparently he is better than Rafa. Hope Rafa , Smalling and Evans(back in form) be rocks in our future defence and also in the very near future in case of Rafa

  • Comment number 44.

    Thought Rafael played well yesterday. Disappointed with his 'card waving' but Ferdinand soon had words and I saw other players from both sides demanding yellow cards at other times with equal passion without the 'card waving' !

    Talking of right backs and refereeing consistency, Carr got booked for Birmingham yesterday for winning the ball cleanly... A few minutes later Collins of Villa dived in from the back on a Birmingham player without winning the ball with no yellow card...

  • Comment number 45.

    Let's not forget Rafael is a Brazilian and their blood runs a bit hotter than ours but am sure he will learn to calm down a bit more in time, he probably needs to look across the other side to Evra and how he takes things. United are now more method than magic and you can see this in the way that Carrick's game has deteriorated, Berbatov is er well.....Berbatov and he fetches and carries for no one, not even himsself. Ferguson is still good at finding raw young talent like
    Rafael and Hernandez but think he will need to keep it up as there
    doesn't look to be much money forthcoming to buy super stars any more.

  • Comment number 46.

    "PS rafael got the ball with his tackle, no card needed.
    Now last week when gerrard was sent off everyone was saying it wasnt a red because he touched the ball, funny how things change"

    Gerrards was a red because he couldve broken Carricks leg on another day. If you reckon Rafas first tackle wastn a booking you mustve been watching a different game. He couldve been sent off on another day. It was a lunge and his studs were dangerously high. The second he was a little unlucky with but he knew exactly what he was doing. Ill just run across the guy and make out i didnt mean to trip him. Well he did trip him and its a well known Italian style challenge. So he got a second booking. He is a very very good player though and i expect him to be a world class fullback in a few years

  • Comment number 47.

    I said this the other day on this forum to Giggsy about Rafael, and i am sorry to say it was prophetic. However, all that said, it was a harsh second yellow to get, but had he not committed a silly foul in the middle of the park earlier, then it would be a moot point.

    Rafael is young and still has a naivety at times, but that does not detract from the fact that he is an exciting prospect who is ready to take over Gary Neville's role.

    Yes, he got skinned a couple of times by Bale, but having said that, i dont remember Bale crossing at will from that flank; he was kept realtively quiet possibly showing that he is still on a learning curve himself.

  • Comment number 48.

    No surprise at all that United had a man sent off at Spurs again. The only question was Which player would Dean choose?

    Rafael is a superb young player, but he did lose it a bit yesterday. He's gonna have to learn that if he over-runs the ball just to accept it and don't try and lunge in. He tends to either get taken out of the play or give away a FK and get booked, which is what happened for the first yellow.

    I've got no real problem with the Latin temperament thing, although he should save it for the likes of Tevez in the last derby game and not bother himself with cranks like Mike Dean imo.

  • Comment number 49.

    Rafael is still a work in progress. The midfield is key area that needs to be re-organised. Thus far Micheal Carrick has been a disappointment, has always been absent on the big occassions, ManUtd Vs Barca CL final readily comes to mind.

    However, what is SAF doing about the central midfield position. Needs a Roy Keane type in that position and quickly too.

  • Comment number 50.

    he's an impressive signing. Neville is a total liability now, but SAF keeps him on for his training field / dressing room attitude/effect.

    When he plays, which isn't often, he's either too slow or not reading the game. Then to cover up he lunges in with the most appalling tackles and of course refs are too scared to caution him.

    He does this because he'd rather be interpreted as having mis-timed a tackle than not make the challenge and be recognised as not being up to it as the attacker gets away from him.

    This is a better purchase from SAF than the over priced journeymen that he usually signs who either sit on the bench or embarrass the team on the pitch (Oshea, fletcher, carrick not to mention the hugely expensive flops).

  • Comment number 51.

    Someone actually describing Carrick as an "overpriced journeyman"


    Three League titles on the trot following his arrival, plus the European Cup and World Club Cup suggest you might just be living in a parallel universe mate.

  • Comment number 52.

    This is a better purchase from SAF than the over priced journeymen that he usually signs who either sit on the bench or embarrass the team on the pitch (Oshea, fletcher, carrick not to mention the hugely expensive flops).


    O'Shea and Fletcher actually came through the United youth ranks and Carrick was highly rated after promising spells at West Ham and Spurs.

    It is only since the last Champions League Final against Barca that he has started to struggle

  • Comment number 53.

    I was sat on the half way line 5 rows back yesterday so i got close up look. He looked a disaster waiting to happen after the first booking. He gets too wound up and aws always likely to go. the crowd were on his back and it showed in his body language.

  • Comment number 54.

    Rafael was excellent after his yellow card. Just kept playing, kept attacking, and kept tackling. His temperament is not really in question in my opinion, just occasionally his decision-making (over-stretching to try and make good an errant touch in particular). He is only 20 years old though. That one tackle when he wiped Bale out was absolutely superb. There were only 15 minutes left when Dean decided to take Rafael out of the game.

  • Comment number 55.

    As a United fan, I think our defensive line-up is incredibly tight. Evra and Vidic need no introduction, nor Ferdinand when he is fit. Raphael too is showing signs of becoming a top-quality player, more than capable of filling G-Nev's boots. Combative, exciting, quick and industrious, he needs only prove that he can deliver a final ball. If he does that, what's stopping him being one of the most individually brilliant and tactically sound right-backs in the league? Here's to hoping Fabio flowers in a similar fashion.

    p.s. I've just seen the title of the blog. What twenty year old hasn't had room for improvement?

  • Comment number 56.

    I agree with #51 - Carrick bashing seems to be United supporters favourite pastime at the moment. He has suffered a dip in form this season but class is permanent and I expect him to regain his old form soon.

  • Comment number 57.

    I have to say that I was quite impressed by Rafael yesterday! He has pace and with the ball at his feet has the ability and did make some great runs.

    The way that he can raise himself above Gary Neville is by working on his final ball should he get into the final third of the pitch.

    Regarding his attitude / recklessness, Ashley Cole used to go to ground too often and too easily when he was younger. The decision of when to, and when not to dive in will come as he matures. Diving in is great but you have a good chance of being booked and you look like a muppet if you can't get back on your feet quickly and the ball hasn't gone out of play.

  • Comment number 58.

    Bale had one of his less effective games which was only partly down to Rafael as he mishit some crosses when he was in the clear as well. Even if Rafael's second booking was a little harsh his over aggressive attitude makes ref's not want to give him the benefit of any doubt that's going. He may even get another couple of matches ban for his little rant at Dean after he was sent off.

  • Comment number 59.

    This is all very interesting stuff and having watched the game (yes I support Spurs), I thought Rafael was walking a thin line throughout the match and whilst unlucky to be sent off for the 'trip', he still took him down (even tho its debatable whether it was an intentional foul, am sure some players intentionally cross behind/infront for that reason) so im afraid that combined with his general rashness I think thats why he got the second yellow... had that been a last man scenario he would have got a straight red (seen it happen often), so some of the comments by the studio and Andy Gray were kinda daft taking all that into context!

    Side note, what is Lee's or whoever's analysis of Bale, he put in 2 good crosses that could have been goals, despite a quiet game by his recent standards, where does he need to improve, that would be a good article surely??

  • Comment number 60.

    How did Rafael stop Bale exactly.

    From what I saw, every time Bale ran at Rafael he got a cross in.

    His crosses were not so good on Sunday, but he put in 2 decent ones for Crouch (asleep at the back post) and VDV who headered wide at the near post.

    He put in another 3 or 4 which were over hit, or cut out...a better end product/cross or better finishing could have made goals. Then would we be talking about how good Rafael It was Bale's end product that let him down, not his ability to beat Rafael, because he did it over and over.

  • Comment number 61.

    No surprise at all that United had a man sent off at Spurs again. The only question was Which player would Dean choose?

    - - - - -

    Other refs may have sent him off for his first challenge....players have gone for less this season. He may have got the ball but only because Palacios kicked it against his out stretched foot.....someone with a bit more skill (Modric) would have moved the ball aside with a fleet of foot and then taken the foot impact of Rafael's out of control lunge.

    How United can whinge about ref decisions is beyond me....even ignoring the Webb & Clattenberg howlers vs Spurs, look at how Neville should have been sent off twice this season (Stoke & WBA, i think) and got away with it both times, the latter should have been a penalty too!

    Also consider that Rooney, on a yellow, told the ref to you f. king w@.ker. You could see it on TV, you could even hear him on the pitch side mic, the ref saw it and did nothing. Disgrace!

  • Comment number 62.

    #61 or maybe the ref realised that sometimes emotions get the better of people in high stakes games and decided 1 yellow card was enough of a sanction at the time.

    While such disrespect fo refs isn't a good thing we can't make players into robots either. Not everyone is Saint Gary Lineker (players at all clubs have occasions when they say rude things to refs) so unless all your clubs players have never sworn at the ref in their lives stop being a hypocrite and give it a rest

  • Comment number 63.

    devonshirespur the point is that people like you constantly harp on about decisions going in United's favour and habitually ignore things that go against them.

    In this particular example we can see you trying to suggest that the debateable penalty in the game United hit 5 goals past Gomes, or the Nani goal to make it 2-0 at the end of the first meeting this season, means that the ridiculous sendings off of Scholes and now Rafael in consecutive visits to Spurs are somehow acceptable. You can't have it both ways. As for drawing up a list of perceived pro-United bias that you've seen on the tele, I can't really play that game to be honest. Watching other teams, especially on the tele, doesn't really interest me.

  • Comment number 64.

    @62 your case for Rooney is rather thin, as whilst yes it is vaguely acceptable on a rare occasion when emotion gets the better of you to accept it, he constantly swears and abuses refs and other players as well so you cant really expect it to be tolerated all the time!

    He sets a very poor example and comes across as a rather unpleasant human being, if he wasnt so talented I doubt he would have got away with it for this long! The fact he also regularly runs most of the pitch to shout/abuse refs isnt a particularly good thing either!

    @63 your points whilst mildly valid dont disuade the fact that the penalty wasnt at 4-0 and it completely changed the course of the game, as verified by the commentators etc... similar could be said of the Nani goal, spurs were getting back into the game and had we scord it would have been 1-1 not 2-1 so a point or even possibly a win could have resulted, im not saying it would have but bad decisions like this change the course of games!

    Take the Lampard goal in the World Cup, would England have lost that game if it was given? or would they have won or forced extra time, as at that point they were in the accendancy!!

  • Comment number 65.

    I thought that Rafael could have been sent off for the first challenge, his foot was high and it appeared a bit reckless, almost a tackle that didn't need to be made in that area of the pitch and I guess that's a bit of inexperience, we've seen players go for lesser tackles than that.
    The ref decided it was only a yellow so thats that.
    He was unlucky to go for the second one but I thought it was a trip at first viwing and only watching the replays could see it was more than likely an accidental clip of the heels but the ref only had a first look. I'm sure he'll agree once he's seen the replays.
    I'd be more worried about Rooneys reaction, there's a player who is so frustrated at his lack of real form (by comparison to last season) he looks very on edge. Could do something stupid soon unless he gets a goal or two.

  • Comment number 66.

    #64, if you want to talk about shocking decisions from that 5-2 game, what about the absolute howler the ref played by not sending Palacios off for nearly snapping Ronaldo in two? Would Spurs have gone 2 up if they were down to 10 men?

    Funnily enough, this one never gets mentioned

  • Comment number 67.

    I like Rafael. Every time I watch him play, he's had a pretty decent game, although I haven't watched him that often. Yes, he sometimes seems a bit rash, but he puts in the effort and he's got skill on the ball as well. He also gets in some crunching tackles without going too far, like yesterday when he went in on Bale, who in turn went flying over the touch line. Result: United throw-in.

    The sending off was a little harsh I thought, but he can't really complain, as he knew he was already on a yellow and should have been a bit more cautious. The first yellow was definitely an offence warranting a booking, even if he did play the ball as well.

    One can only assume that with time he'll mature and improve on this aspect of his game.

  • Comment number 68.

    Everyone is heaping praise on Rafael. He knows the game inside out, he is always in a good position etc.. Sir Alex Ferguson is the person telling him what to do. If he isn't then he wouldn't be all that great.

  • Comment number 69.

    Bale DESTROYED Rafael both times

    Open your eyes. A player is not doing well if, like Rafael did both times, he needs his teammates to double or treble up on an opponent

  • Comment number 70.

    #64 no offence, but Spurs had already had nearly an hour to get back into the game and there were only 5 minutes left when Nani was hauled down for the penalty that wasn't given. I agree it was a daft goal though. as for the 5-2 game, if that happened to my team I'd be embarrassed, and it wasn't the first time United have hit 5 goals in a second half fightback against Spurs either. the way people go on you'd think that was the only time a penalty like that had ever been given. I could quite easily turn round and say that maybe if Rafael wasn't sent off United would've won yesterday - he was arguably the game's best attacker! and if scholes hadn't got sent off last season United might've gone on and scored more than just one more goal.

  • Comment number 71.

    Nothing like a good football debate...

    Rafael played ok in my opinion, he wasn't the best player on the pitch by a long shot, and Bale returning from injury wasn't in the dazzling form of pre-Christmas. No one talks about a defender keeping Rooney out the game, as he seems more than capable of doing that himself.

    This whole ref decisions debate is never going to go away and people are right, there were some dodgy ones in this match. I've seen Crouch being referenced for a challenge that was very similar to Rafael's (though Crouch has one leg folded under him the whole time, whilst Rafael's comes into play as he slides through). I think a yellow each could be concluded. Someone mentioned VDV getting one for kicking the ball away... none so for Golden boy Giggs when he did it. Perhaps running 10 meters and kicking the ball into an empty net after the whistle is less of a law break than kicking it down field after the whistle... I think it's not who got what decision that annoys fans but the consistency of the refs. If you book a challenge or dissent and another player is guilty later, then mete out the same punishment.

    Though @66, the video link you've posted shows Ronaldo cleverly flicking the ball away and jumping over a challenge. Last time i checked you don't get booked for a bad challenge that misses/ or is avoided by the opponent. If he'd been in a crumpled heap, no one would argue a deserved card.

    I thought it was an interesting game, with good skill shown in midfield and some good defences on display, just no-one had their shooting boots on!

  • Comment number 72.

    If he'd been in a crumpled heap, no one would argue a deserved card.


    Is that the rule is it? Player must be left in crumpled heap to be sent off from a flying two footed tackle

  • Comment number 73.

    ok there is a few debates going on in this blog

    1.Rafael i thought played well on sunday i think he was one of the better players and yes it was inexperience that lead to thw rash challenges but the stats say it all he had bale in his back pocket.

    2.I remember watching a football pundits slate a young man u boy in 2004 saying he will never amount to anything and he became c.ronaldo people say he will be good people say he will need to improve and well he will for one simple reason. SAF. he is the master of nuturing young talent he will tune rafael and fabio to reach their potential they will learn.

    3.Im sorry but i dont think there is a better right back potentially in the world. Extremely quick,good quick feet and strong and fearless in defence

  • Comment number 74.

    I agree that rafael has a lot of developing to do, he can be clumsy and get himself into awkward situations. He quite often gets the wrong side of his man and tends to grab at shirts. The only reason he is playing so much first team football at man utd is that neville looks miles of the pace of the prem in my opinion.

  • Comment number 75.

    71. At 5:40pm on 17 Jan 2011, Jadles wrote:
    Last time i checked you don't get booked for a bad challenge that misses/ or is avoided by the opponent. If he'd been in a crumpled heap, no one would argue a deserved card.


    Well you don't know the laws of the game then.

    The referee can book or even show a red card to a player who he feels has endangered the safety of an opponent with a dangerous tackle- even if that tackle hasn't made physical contact.

  • Comment number 76.

    People need to realise that Rafael is only 20!!

    Imagine how good he could potentially be when he peaks.


    Good Blog Thank You

  • Comment number 77.

    Also NUMBER 23

    you are spot on. especially with point 2

  • Comment number 78.

    Here's a very good example- with Cristiano Ronaldo as the perpetrator.

    No physical contact with the opponent, who has avoided Ronaldo's challenge, but the ref deems red card.

  • Comment number 79.

    Re the Carrick bashing. I think most people just find his inconsistency more frustrating than anything else. Siting where he does he is the foundation of United's attack, and too many times his touch lets him down, he picks the wrong ball or he simply passes sideways or backwards stunting our counter attacking play.

    In my opinion Anderson should be playing ahead of Carrick. He instills the forward momentum and counter-attacking play of the United of old.

  • Comment number 80.

    First of all, Raphael is only 20. A little patience from the fans and some good man management from SAF and in 2-3 years he will be the real deal.
    As a United fan, I am very fond of our legend Giggs, but the man yesterday, in my opinion, put up a worse display than Carrick. He drifted too much into midfield (which he can do very well, just not last night), virtually making our left wing ineffective. SAF needs to begin trusting Anderson in these big games more, he is very brave and talented even while playing against big teams. I would have prefered to have a
    midfield, with Chicharito playing with Berba upfront. I know the Rooney left-wing position seems a little bit absurd, but if the man is not banging them in, SAF might as well utilise his attacking prowess in a position he has proven more times than not that he can play well in.

  • Comment number 81.

    I think this season has shown how much Rafael has developed as a defender and as an all-round footballer. Watching the game, and after his first yellow, (which in my opinion was harsh as it was one-footed and won the ball, on the whole not overly dangerous) I commented that he was never going to last the full 90 minutes, you could tell with the way Mike Dean spoke to him. He plays the game with so much passion and aggression and he is learning to channel that aggression. Having watched him and Fabio play for the first team and reserves since they joined the club, Rafa has progressed at a much greater rate than expected and is well on his way to being one of the top full backs in the Premier League.

    The second yellow was a joke yesterday and his angry reaction which may land him in more trouble suggests he felt the same way. Since the Munich game, he has 'wised up' in that sense and in his positional reading of the game. He is 20 years of age, can anyone name any full back who had the greatest reading of a game from that posotion at such an age?

    Criticism of the boy is harsh, and just watch this space, he will replace Maicon within two years as Brazils right back. Keep it up boy.

  • Comment number 82.

    Hang on, these videos (posts #66 and #78) that have been posted must be wrong, because according to most people who contribute on here, Man Utd always get the decisions in their favour.

    Come on, fess up, have you doctored the videoes?! ;)

    Carrick was frustrating me a lot yesterday - but then towards the end of the game he came in with some timely defensive interventions. What annoys me about him is he seems to dally in midfield with the ball and invite players to press him, and this occasionally leads to us losing possession.

    I am wondering if Fergie is eyeing Rooney as a potential heir to Scholesy. I dont think he is a natural goal scorer (in the same vein as someone like Fowler, Owen etc) he is more of a Roy of the Rovers type, his distribution out to players at times is absolutely lovely, and he obviously has the boundless energy of a midfield player, rather than the explosive power over a few yards of a Torres etc. What do people think? Attacking midfielder just behind the front 2?

  • Comment number 83.

    Please can people stop commending Ferdinand. He told Rafael to quieten down because he was worried about Rafael getting sent off. Not because he thought what Rafael was doing was wrong. Ferdinand is always one of the most vocal players at trying to influence refs decisions.

  • Comment number 84.

    Rafael is the best young defender to come through our youth team since, well, dare i say it, Gary Neville. Whenever i look at a United team sheet and see Rafael's name, i'm immediatly more relaxed than if, say, Brown was playing there. At the moment Rafael is the best right back United have, and he's only 20!

    Rafael, the new Roberto Carlos.

  • Comment number 85.

    If you dont think Rafael will improve then you dont think the world will end one day!!

  • Comment number 86.

    I've no doubt the lad's a cracking player, and will continue to improve as he plays more and more with the rest of the intimidating back four of Evra, Ferdinand and Vidic.

    What concerns me slightly about him, and this goes for a lot of young players in the game today, is the attitude that shouting at the referee enough will vindicate you, and turn him into the bad guy. Fully agree that the second yellow was an accidental challenge, but it doesn't need to be intentional to warrant a yellow. He stopped another attack down the left, illegally, and Mike Dean was well within his rights to send him off.

  • Comment number 87.

    Rafael very talented but ridiculously pumped up yesterday. Surely even one-eyed Reds could see that. Sending off just waiting to happen once he jumped into Palacios (that could have been a red card in itself - seen them given many times, and less!). All the complaints are way off the mark. Mike Dean left with little choice. I reckon Rooney was close to following him off too. Wish Dean had done that and taught him a lesson, but again he's allowed to mouth off. So ugly.
    Not sure if you allowed to say it but I thought overall the best full back on the pitch yesterday was Assou Ekotto. Think it's about time Hansen gave the lad a bit of credit after his absurd criticism of him after Everton v Spurs. To be fair, all the defensive players on the pitch did fine but I agree with a Man Utd supporter mate of mine who reckons that Vidic's shirt grabbing was a liability and took away from his performance. At any moment he was going to give away a pen. Spurs' final ball not as good as it can be and Defoe should have played instead of Crouch.

  • Comment number 88.

    Before yesterday's game, Rafael had only picked up one yellow card this season. The likes of Sagna and Ivanovic have picked up more.

    He only made two fouls yesterday. Yes, they were costly ones but at least he wasn't fouling throughout the game. The most fouls he has made in a game this season, has been three.

    Not bad for a player that is allegedly 'rash', 'naive', 'reckless' and 'indisciplined'

    I guess some players are destined to have certain labels/stereotypes about them, regardless of the contradictory evidence

  • Comment number 89.

    'I said this the other day on this forum to Giggsy about Rafael, and i am sorry to say it was prophetic. However, all that said, it was a harsh second yellow to get, but had he not committed a silly foul in the middle of the park earlier, then it would be a moot point.'

    I still think he isn't as rash, naive or reckless as the stereotype that people make him out to be. That is the thing about the red card as (i am not necessarily talking about you) some football fans are very fickle and shallow, so they easily let the red card overshadow the many good/solid performances Rafael has put in this season.

    One or two swallows does not make a summer.

    Sergio Ramos got 50+ yellow cards in his first four seasons at Real as well as already equalling the legendary Hierro's red card record at Real but he is apparently one of the best right backs around. Rafael has picked up three yellow cards this season but apparently is rash, naive, indisciplined, etc.

    Go figure.

  • Comment number 90.

    As an Arsenal fan i cannot help but be jealous of ManUtd possession of a right full back like Rafael. He is still young but he possess pace, power good technique and fearlessness. His potential is great but he certainly does not need any petulance like yesterday. He will make himseHf target for referees. However he still has many years to learn better.he should learn from the great Cafu who was also had a heady youth. He could have lost ManU the match yesterday if Rednapp had made the right substitution after his red card.

    I feel Fergie will eventually get him matured and if ManU's young centre backs (Smalling and Evans) are in the same mould as Rafael then their defence is secure for the next 5-8years.

    There is a joke that it is Fabio (Rafael's twin brother) that comes out in the second half as so that is why he always has so much energy- and nobody can tell them apart, right?

  • Comment number 91.

    I believe we (Man Utd) are lacking in two key area's of the pitch.
    we so need a world class midfielder to take over from the previous greats like robbo, kean and scholes. Someone like schneider maybe, just need some class in there to give us the difference. Carrick is just a nightmare, if he is not doing the ray wilkings pass it sideways or backwards, he is getting caught out in the middle or playing a lazy pass, just not good enough and im flabagasted that Sir Alex dont see that. Also, i appreciate it that rooney tries his best and runs for england, but hes supposed to be flippin world class, yes world class, but his first touch is currently awful, he gets tackled pretty easy and where are the goals??. Its got to change with him , or he should be on the bench and give hernandez a go in the team.
    i believe football players should be paid every game based on performance related pay. You play the game, you discuss your contribution, then agree a score. If you play crap, you get less pay, simple. Surley that will change a few players mentality. The money is too much for what they do, it has to be controlled, or, they deliver fantastic football and make us feel like we beleive there worth it.
    Man Utd are top, unbeaten and im not sure how to be honest. God help you all when we click. Tony Bruce Harlow, Essex (and yes i do go to old trafford)

  • Comment number 92.

    Surely Rafael only became upset and protested after he was shown the 2nd yellow. If the ref and lineman had better eyesight, they would have seen that the "trip" was an accidental clipping of another's heel. Had the ref then simply spoken to the lad and told him to calm down, I'm sure he would have responded much better.

    Anyway, I'm waiting for the day when Fabio is promoted to the first team and you have the twins marauding up and down the flanks. Rafael on his own is worth watching, the speed with which he moves from defence to attack is something, and Fabio isn't that far behind. All depends on whether Evra stays or goes.

  • Comment number 93.

    The second yellow was perhaps a bit harsh (we've all seen worse without a card), but his first could just as easily have been red. High feet possibly seen as a dangerous lunge. So swings and roundabouts

    Rafael still has much to learn at this level. He needs to realise that being a 'professional' means remaining calm and not throwing his teddy out of the cot every time he gets pulled up. He has to learn NOT to put himself in situations where he is going clash with the ref - for whatever reason

    He's a good player with good prospects for the future, but I fear he may become another spoilt, overpaid, primadonna brat like Rooney

  • Comment number 94.

    I often wonder whether Ferguson is tempted at times to pick Rafael and have Fabio on the bench, and then if Rafael gets booked in the first half get them to swap jerseys and make a substitution so Rafael goes back on, but as Fabio *chuckle*

    There's no doubting that Rafael has immense potential, he showed it in the game against Arsenal last season, but he does need to learn when to tackle and when to hold off and just pressure an opponent. The first yellow was definitely a yellow, he may have got the ball but there was no way he was in control of the tackle at all. Second one was unlucky, and I'm sure he'll learn some lessons from his own reaction as well.

    The big flaws are definitely in midfield, and a slight lack of depth in attack with Rooney off form for most of this season. Hernandez is another exciting prospect, but United can't keep relying on him to score important goals. The key is definitely Rooney, once he's fit and firing then Berbatov will be happier as the two of them work together extremely well (something that nobody at all foresaw!), and all that will be left is to patch up midfield. Gibson isn't United quality, he's good cover but he won't be regarded as a reliable first-choicer. Hargreaves, well I personally don't think he'll ever play again. And Carrick has lost his confidence, and he's a big confidence player.

    I wouldn't be surprised to see United try and make a move for Jack Rodwell, he's the kind of player Ferguson likes, and he'd do a very good job in that midfield. Plus there's Valencia to come back from injury soon and Nani (although still patchy) is improving fast as well.

    All in all, signs are that United, with one or two additions in summer, are in rude health with a young squad, with all their rivals coming to a stage where major surgery is needed. And people ask why Ferguson won't retire, why should he with this squad!

  • Comment number 95.

    how good is the twin Fabio? have not seen much of United to tell.

  • Comment number 96.

    "He's not making any rash decisions," the United manager said in the build-up to one of the season's most widely-anticipated games. "He was quite an impulsive young boy last season but he is the kind of thing we invest in and we are getting that return now."

    Rafael seems to have perfected time travel, as his performance on Sunday was very impulsive and full of rash decisions.

  • Comment number 97.

    Gary Neville has played his last match I hope for United. Thanks and all that but he isn't up to it. Rafael is not a replacement for Neville given Neville has not been a regular for about 3 years now.
    O Shea is vastly underrated as is coming back from injury, he might not be as exciting but he is not prone to a red card either.
    United have probably the strongest in depth defence at the moment right across the back 4 they have able replacements for the first choice players. Yes we lack something in midfield but Anderson is really coming into his own this season and is I believe the way forward for United. With Evra and Rafael running forward, Anderson Nani and Park surging up the middle and the wings we need someone strong defensively in midfield so if it breaks down off Rooney Berba or Chico there is good cover. But if Ferguson ever decided to go back to an old fashioned 4:4:2, I am pretty convinced with the team he has the could rip anyone to shreds...
    Rafael will mature nicely...but it will take time. We are just lucky not to lose more when he walks

  • Comment number 98.

    Oh by the way great analysis, much appreciated,Is it my imagination or is the difference between the two games analysed that Uniteds passing was much shorter this season?

  • Comment number 99.

    In hindsight, Rafael obviously has maturing to do. He fell twice for the same trick.

  • Comment number 100.

    I think he is the best RB we've got - watching Gary Neville play is like watching a train wreck.
    Although i did cringe a little when he got sent off against Spurs.(whether or not it was justified was besides the point)

    A CM is something we've lacked for the longest time - someone who can create and link up play - Carrick was supposed to assume that role but he lacks the courage and the consistency to do it, which is a pity cos he is an excellent passer of the ball.

    PS: Vidic is a monster - did you notice how he harassed Modric all the way to the halfway line until he got the ball off him!!!


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