Young Reds’ Carling Cup star turn marred by Rodrigo injury
Posted by nickogs20 on September 24, 2008
A youthful United side containing a number of full debutants was hugely impressive in overcoming a full-strength Middlesbrough 3-1 in the Carling Cup at Old Trafford last night, but the performance and result were overshadowed by a horror tackle on Rodrigo Possebon by Boro skipper Emanuel Pogatetz that put the Brazilian midfielder in hospital.
With the game delicately poised at 1-1 with 25 minutes remaining, both players looked to contest a 50-50 ball in Boro territory. Well, Rodrigo looked to contest a 50-50 – what Pogatetz was looking to do is open to question. The Austrian got a bit of the ball, but that carries little relevance when the high, two-footed and frankly vicious nature of the challenge that he used to do so also saw him follow through with entirely unnecessary force on the young Brazilian’s shins, sending him cartwheeling to the floor in agony (video here for those yet to see it).
Pogatetz was rightly dismissed and yet inexplicably protested his innocence, looking stunned to have recieved the red card for what was unquestionably a disgracefully reckless tackle. Several members of Middlesbrough’s coaching staff leapt from their dugout to defend their player’s actions, insisting there was nothing wrong with the United midfielder. It would be interesting to know how they subsequently felt as Possebon lay prone on the Old Trafford turf for the next 6/7 minutes, being given oxygen to help deal with the pain as the medical team tried to stabilise a leg that was badly gashed and feared to be broken.
As Rodrigo was stretchered off and immediately taken to hospital for x-rays and further treatment, the fear – reinforced by video replays of the challenge that made uncomfortable viewing – was that the youngster would be out of the game for some time. Remarkably, the club revealed today that those x-rays revealed no break, although further tests are required to investigate the possibility of ligament damage. To his credit, Boro manager Gareth Southgate made no attempt to excuse the actions of either his player or his coaching staff, while Pogatetz himself has today issued a public apology and stated his intention to apologise to Rodrigo in person.
The potential implications of the incident for Rodrigo’s career obviously take precedence over the game itself, but it would be a travesty if the terrific performance by the team last night was completely ignored. All the headlines have gone to Arsenal’s youngsters after their 6-0 demolition of Sheffield United, but little has been made of the way a United side containing four players making their full debuts comprehensively outplayed full-strength Premier League opposition on their way to a thoroughly deserved victory.
Appropriately lining up alongside established homegrown players (Wes Brown, John O’Shea and Ryan Giggs) and exciting young imports (Cristiano Ronaldo, Nani and Anderson), those four were Possebon (19), 17 year-old Danny Welbeck and 18 year-olds Rafael da Silva and Ben Amos. The former trio all excelled in a first half display that should have seen United out of sight at half-time and continued to impress after weathering a brief second-half resurgence from the Teesiders, and the only reason the same cannot be said of Amos is that, such was his side’s dominance, the England U19 keeper had absolutely nothing to do.
While continuing to show the exciting commitment to attack he has displayed in pre-season and in the reserves, Rafael kept England international Stuart Downing so under control that it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say the boy from Pétropolis had the Boro left-winger in his pocket. Welbeck’s integration into the Reds’ fluid attacking rotation was almost seamless, the young Mancunian unlucky not to get his name on the scoresheet. Possebon meanwhile was arguably the best player on the park until he was so crudely forced off, combining with compatriot Anderson (himself only 20) to completely dominate the midfield. Amos looked as commanding and ‘at home’ at senior level as it was possible to be given the limited workload he was faced with.
There were spots on the bench for Richard Eckersley, David Gray, Ron-Robert Zieler and Tom Cleverley, although circumstances prevented them from making it onto the field. Darron Gibson did make it on, as replacement for the stricken Rodrigo, and did his cause no harm with a tidy cameo as United pushed on to secure the win (Giggs and Nani with the crucial goals after Adam Johnson had earlier equalised Ronaldo’s opener). Also taking to the field late on was another debutant, Angolan frontman Manucho, who showed signs of real raw potential in his brief time on the field.
With a number of Premier League sides bowing out at this stage, there’s every chance of seeing more of these exciting youngsters in future rounds. There’s something of a conscensus forming that this is the most talented crop of young talents at the club in a long time, one I would tentatively tend to agree with, so a long run in this competition is more desirable than it has maybe been in the past. The draw for the next round is on Saturday at noon, one to watch with interest.