|photo by gordonflood.com||via PhotoRee|
Just a quick note, to get you pumped up for the Manchester Derby later today:
I noticed a brief but beautiful thing the other day, something that goes a long way toward explaining Manchester United's success this season. The inicident I'm recalling occurred directly after Javier Hernandez scored the opening goal against Chelsea at Old Trafford in the second leg Champions League tie on Tuesday. Cue pandemonium in the stands and on the pitch -- this time, Chicharito's goal counted, and the fact that it occurred right before half-time made it an especially vicious hammer blow to the Blues' already wobbly title hopes.
But I was less impressed by the celebration on the pitch -- Chicha always looks happy when he scores, so this time was no different -- than I was with what occurred on the Manchester United bench immediately afterward: the first player to his feet to celebrate Chicharito's goal was none other than the languid Bulgarian, Dimitar Berbatov, not typically someone noted for his quickness by friend or foe alike.
But this time our Dimi was quick to his feet, and the fact that he was celebrating Chicharito's opener as much as anyone tells the tale in an of itself. Let's examine his action for just a moment: this is the same player who's been relegated to a ringside seat of the action at the start of eight of the team's last 10 games, solely due to the performance of the very man who scored the goal.
This, despite the fact that Berbatov is not only the team's leading scorer this season -- no, he's better than that. He's also the leading the league in scoring this season, and with Carlos Tevez' recent hamstring injury, chances are very high that Berba will win the Golden Boot this season, as well. (As a side note, making his status even more impressive is the fact that not one of Berbatov' goals this season has come from the spot -- where Tevez, the league's second leading scorer, has racked up a considerable number of his tallies).
So, back to Berba: despite sitting because of Chicharito's increasingly impressive performances, he was still the first man to his feet to celebrate the baby-faced assassin's goal. He could have sulked. He could have celebrated half-heartedly. After all, he surely has an ego, and has more than held his own this season, his best yet at Old Trafford. But he didn't. He celebrated, along with the other 75,000 plus in attendance on Tuesday.
And this incident in and of itself tells you all you need to know about Sir Alex's man management skills. At one of the most competitive clubs on the face of the planet, where men have been known to slide into a hard tackle or two even in training at Carrington, Sir Alex has found a way to keep multiple superstars happy, and all pulling for the common good. They may not be satisfied with their status, but they're not sulking or expressing discontent, either. They know what they need to do to get on the pitch, and that it all comes down to performance, and respect for your manager and teammates.
Roberto Mancini would do well to take some lessons from the master.
This is farlieonfootie for April 16.