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Match report written somewhat in arrears due to bad case of Mexican Jumping Stomach disease - memories fade but the doubt still lingers as someone once sang...
Leeds were going into this on the back of a run of good results, and ManU were sans Keane, Giggs and Cole and with Yorke on the bench: "under strength" and focusing on Panathanaikos no doubt. Even so they always manage to make you think twice: can we win this? Are we really good enough to challenge them yet? On today's evidence, the answer is a massive "YES".
Lies, damned lies and statistics: the corner count, the shot count and the offside count (at least 3 of which were blatantly wrong) all showed Leeds being the most attack-minded side on the pitch and for the first half it was one-way traffic for long periods. Despite Dennis Irwin's age (catching up on him) and Gary Neville's total absence of skill, their defence isn't easy to break down: Stam and Brown are very good players who were well-protected by a midfield that seemed quite content to sit back and soak up pressure rather than go for a goal. Even so, Stam's underhit backpass had the crowd screaming for a penalty as Keane knocked the ball past Barthez and went down under the Frenchman's challenge. Keane looked a bit aggrieved, but the ref got it right in pointing for a corner rather than a penalty.
Their fans, who frequently delight in accusing Leeds fans of abusing those who were killed at Munich in 1958 have wasted no time in plumbing the depths of bad taste: at Old Trafford we had a display of a Galatasaray shirt and throat-slitting gestures, and at Elland Road we had the "Istanbul Reds" and similar chants and gestures. Unlike some people, I don't brand all ManU fans as "Scum" by default but I've got no hesitation in applying that label here. Quite why the police did nothing about this blatant incitement to violence I've no idea.
At the end of a half in which Leeds had only been stretched for period of 2 minutes, things got rather fraught. Leeds attacked, Man U cleared the ball, and Ian Harte went down in the box. The replays showed Barthez kicking him - with a slightly theatrical reaction from the Irishman - but it was a kick nonetheless and when Barber pointed to the spot and beckoned Barthez over, we all knew he was clearly going to be applying the law as he was required and producing the red card for violent conduct. The card was yellow. After being surrounded and pushed by half a dozen ManU players, the ref had bottled it. With Robbie Keane on the field, you'd have expected him to take the penalty, particularly since Harte had been injured. But Harte placed the ball, the body language clearly wrong and tried to place the ball to the opposite side of the goal that he normally goals for. Barthez dived and produced a great save - but he should have been in the dressing room and not on the pitch. The half-time whistle went and the Leeds fans and Man U players gave Barber a clear indication of what they thought of him.
Second half was more of the same: Leeds pressure, nowt from them, occasional fireworks between the crowd. And then they scored. Solskjaer and Sheringham swapped passes in a move started by Chadwick, Rio tried to force Sheringham wide but left him room to get in a poor shot. Unfortunately, Nige spilled the ball into the path of Chadwick (sure to be voted FaceAche of the Year by fellow professionals) whom Danny Mills had stopped chasing at the edge of the area. Sven Goran Erickson will not have been impressed!
Credit to the team though - they produced a great fightback when they went behind but it looked like we were going to run out of time. We never quite managed to get in a major scoring chance - and when we did have a good shot on goal (Harry produced a rasper from the edge of the box) it went straight to the keeper. With 5 minutes to go, Danny Mills redeemed his earlier lack of effort. He knocked the ball past Irwin and sprinted down the wing, drawing Stam over to cover. His cross found Bowyer at the near post for a flick on and Mark Viduka finished the job unmarked from 5 yards out. 1-1 and at least we were on to get half of our just desserts from this game.
Then we scored the winner. Or to be more exact, Wes Brown did. Or to be more exact still, we scored what should have been the winner if the linesman - who had earlier called back at least 2 onside attacks by Leeds - had done his homework and understood that level is onside. Bowyer's cross was turned into his own goal by Brown with Viduka behind him, but with the players halfway back to the centre circle, the flag went up and Barber was happy not to over-rule another poor decision.
A moral victory for Leeds - but they don't carry the three points. Maybe next year we can do it in reality.
It had to happen.
A flag was unfurled in the visitors end - it read "Galatasaray Reds"
That sums them up.
Leeds fans rather than ignoring it began singing the full repertoire of Munich songs. The bloke in front of me snapped his seat in frustration. The same man hurled coins at Beckham as took a corner in front of us in the 2nd half. These things you don't see on TV. This game is like no other. Pure hatred.
Copy from Football Unlimited of 05/03/2001.
Fabien Barthez's preparations for football's bigger occasions would now appear to embrace late-night tête-à-têtes with the beautiful people who make up the Parisian glitterati. Nice work if you can get it.
On Saturday morning, photographs of the image- conscious goalkeeper entering one of the Champs Elysées' more exclusive nightclubs were plastered across the back pages of various publications.
"The coach lets me live how I want," he is reported to have said, almost as if he wished to add credibility to the cute, if somewhat improbable, theory that as Sir Alex Ferguson nears the end of his managerial tenure at Old Trafford he is actually beginning to mellow.
Copy from The Independent of 03/03/2001.
Ah, that taste of Yorkshire bitter. On a ground where grudges tend to be harboured long and deep, it would be fair to say that Mr Graham Barber of Tring will not be the recipient of an invitation to the end of season ball.
Eminem would possibly be more welcome at a gay rally than this particular official here after two decisions which ultimately decided this latest re-run of the Wars of the Roses. The defining moments proved to be the official's decision not to send the Manchester United goalkeeper, Fabien Barthez, on an early trip to the salle de bain in added time before the interval, and his acceptance in the final minutes of a linesman's flag that Mark Viduka had been offside after Wes Brown had turned the ball into his own net a nasty habit the young defender is developing, that.
The first verdict was incomprehensible; the second apparently correct, although not in the Leeds manager David O'Leary's opinion in the aftermath of a contest which had acquired added piquancy the minute the Irishman made his announcement of the promotion to his head coach of Sir Alex Ferguson's former assistant Brian Kidd.
If we had anticipated a metaphorical victory circuit of the champions-elect and a touch of trans-Pennine physical excess at the home of one of their most avowed rivals we were to be sorely disappointed. Eight cautions were given, mostly for late tackles, and that was somehow appropriate on a day when Ferguson's team barely got started and O'Leary's team could not finish the moves they had begun so enterprisingly.
Ferguson's team, perhaps distracted by thoughts of Wednesday's Champions' League fixture against Panathinaikos, amassed a solitary opportunity. Though it was seized with predatory delight by the substitute Luke Chadwick, a 20-year-old who looks hungrier than Oliver Twist and whose nimble frame suggests he practises by dancing it, that told the story of Manchester United's morning.
There are excuses, of sorts. The visitors, without the injured Roy Keane, were always deficient in midfield menace. For Phil Neville, who replaced him in the numerical sense, it has been an interesting week. Deployed by Sven Goran Eriksson as right-back against Spain, here, in the first half, he found himself on the left side of midfield. As a certain American politician might have observed: "Mr Neville you are no Ryan Giggs." The first 45 minutes of torpor were followed by a controversial two minutes of added time. Robbie Keane's cross from a short corner was contested by both Barthez and Ian Harte, who skirmished for the ball. It ran loose and Brown cleared but as he did so the Frenchman kicked out at Harte in full view of the referee.
After the inevitable jostling and protests from both sides, the official awarded a penalty, yet then perversely brandished only a yellow card at the goalkeeper. The chagrin of Leeds, who were already outraged that the goalkeeper had been allowed to remain on the pitch, was heightened when Harte gave Barthez the opportunity to make a save from his spot-kick.
It was not the most malicious assault although considerably worse than the offence which brought about David Beckham's dismissal against Argentina in France 98 but it was impossible to comprehend why Barthez did not received the ultimate punishment. As Barber departed for half-time, Barthez was still arguing his case and had to be restrained by Teddy Sheringham.
Ferguson's No 2, Steve McClaren, also vented his feelings at the official, although United had appeared to have been the recipients of benign refereeing. "It was a penalty," O'Leary declared. "And if that is awarded for the player [Barthez] kicking out, I don't understand how he was on the field to save it." The visitors' complaint was that Harte had fouled Barthez initially and Ferguson declared: "Steve McClaren says that the boy [Harte] pulled Barthez and he had a little kick at him. If he's had a kick and the referee saw it, it's a sending-off."
The Manchester United manager added: "You need strong refs in this game and he's one of the weaker ones. You just don't get the consistency. Next week, the same thing will happen and some goalkeeper or defender will be sent off."
It was a storm that followed virtual dead calm. United produced nothing, other than a Beckham cross to no one in particular, an act typical of another undistinguished performance from the England captain. Leeds fared little better. An under-hit back-pass by the acting captain Stam gave Robbie Keane a sniff of goal. Howls of protest went up behind the goal when Barthez slid in to hoof the ball away, taking Keane with him, but television replays confirmed that Barber was correct to wave play on. Viduka flicked a header wide, Harte tested Barthez with a free-kick, and Dacourt from long range, but the Frenchman was rarely troubled.
After the interval, O'Leary recharged his forces with Harry Kewell and Alan Smith while Ferguson introduced Chadwick on the left of midfield. And it was the skilful England Under-21 international who pounced in the 64th minute after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's drive was spilt into his path by Martyn. "We gifted them the goal they'd done nothing to deserve it," O'Leary reflected. "It was poor handling by Nigel."
Leeds responded with vigour, inventiveness and patience and were rewarded with six minutes remaining when Danny Mills' cross was nodded on by Lee Bowyer for Viduka to head powerfully past Barthez. In the dying seconds, O'Leary's men, whose next opponents are Real Madrid on Tuesday, might have transformed a creditable point into a welcome three to aid their pursuit of Champions' League qualification next season.
Bowyer's centre behind the visitors' rearguard looked destined to be converted by the onrushing Viduka, only for Brown, ahead of him, to stretch out a leg and divert the ball past Barthez, just as he had done against Valencia. The defender was a picture of dejection, until he turned to discover that a referee's assistant had adjudged that Viduka had been offside. It was a close call and O'Leary opined: "I was looking at their players and I could tell that they think they've conceded a goal. Wes Brown was absolutely gutted. But then the linesman has gifted them an offside."
The Irishman's counterpart, Ferguson, will be hoping that the Greeks will be bearing similar gifts on Wednesday.
Copy from Football Unlimited of 03/03/2001.
Referees. Can't play without 'em, not allowed to shoot 'em. Leeds and Manchester United shared the points in what by the end was an entertainingly open trans-Pennine encounter, but Graham Barber's handling of the game earned him all the notoriety.
'You need a strong referee in this game, and unfortunately he is one of the weaker ones,' Sir Alex Ferguson said. 'He ended up just giving fouls to each team to try to balance things out.'
Despite handing out eight yellow cards in what was far from a full-blooded contest, Barber's most notable fault was failing to show red to Fabien Barthez for a clear case of violent conduct at the end of the first half. At the end of the second, after Leeds had hauled themselves back from a goal down, a potential winner in the form of a Wes Brown own goal was chalked off due to an offside infringement, which David O'Leary claimed only the referee and linesman had seen.
Copy from Yorkshire Evening Post of 05/03/2001.
THERE is tolerance and then there is blissful ignorance of the kind preferred by sand-immersed ostriches.
Hertfordshire official Graham Barber, so crassly at odds with common sense and reason in this humdinger, clearly has a long neck and a penchant for beaches.
Only one course of action was open to him when Manchester United goalkeeper Fabien Barthez took it upon himself to stamp on Leeds' Ian Harte and that was to dispatch the Frenchman on a long walk to the tunnel.
Barber bottled it. The bald bon viveur was allowed to remain between the posts and, having psyched out Harte, he dived acrobatically to his right to keep out the penalty.
Much later, as Leeds tore at Mancunian throats like rampant lions in search of the kill, defender Wes Brown planted the ball into the back of his own net in an action replay of the goal he conceded against Valencia in the Champions League 11 days previously.
To all intents and purposes that should have been a deserved winner for Leeds, but once again Poll come to the rescue of the champions by ratifying his linesman's wholly isolated view that Mark Viduka had momentarily strayed offside. Quite simply, there had been no transgression and that the goal did not stand was thoroughly scandalous.
Do these officials turn up to games not knowing the rule book from the Highway Code?
It is a question that needs to be asked, because the implications of what happened at Elland Road on Saturday could be very serious.
Manchester United didn't need the point - the retention of their title is a formality - and they played as though they didn't need a point.
But the daylight robbery of two points which would have further enhanced Leeds' push for a European place may be of vital significance come May.
What should happen today, in official circumstances, is that Mr Barber and his aides Sharp and Devine (talk about misnomers) be shown a video of the Barthez incident, questioned whether or not it constituted violent conduct (of which there is no doubt) and further quizzed as to why he did not issue the mandatory red card.
He should then be relegated to the very bottom of the refereeing ranks and made to work his way up before ever having charge of a Premiership match again.
Players and coaches don't get away with much. Why should referees?
Interestingly, Mr Barber sits at the very bottom of the league of refereeing leniency, having issued as many as 49 cards in 11 games. None has been red.
He certainly has no aversion to the colour, as evidenced here.
We witnessed an explosive encounter which, in the final analysis, only perpetuated the widely-held view there is one set of rules for Manchester United and an entirely different set for the rest.
It was nearly all Leeds. A badly-weighted backpass from Stam to Barthez almost let in Robbie Keane at the start but the keeper performed heroics in taking the ball off the striker's toes as he was about to pull the trigger.
Keane worked hard for possession of the ball out on the right and from his cross Viduka got in a header which flashed high and wide.
Mills raced forward in promising fashion, but his 20-yard shot was disappointing and bobbled wide.
When Dacourt was fouled by Butt, Harte's free-kick was won in the air by Viduka, but a corner was Leeds' only reward.
Barthez was fully tested by Harte's arcing free kick and did well to clear it from under the bar, then Dacourt tried his luck from distance but was way over the top.
With half an hour gone the champions, merely going through the motions, had yet to produce a shot of any description, but Leeds were having trouble in negotiating ways through their massed ranks.
When Harte's free kick came back off the wall Dacourt tried to lob Barthez, but the keeper was alert to the danger.
Six minutes before the break Bowyer rifled in a left-foot shot from the edge of the box, but it was wide of the target.
In first half injury time there was uproar when Barthez purposely stamped on Harte and amazingly got away with a yellow card.
It was, however, an undeniable penalty and the resulting remonstrations meant a considerable delay.
Harte took it himself and Barthez, who will no doubt claim that justice was done, pushed the ball to safety.
Leeds changed things around at the start of the second half, introducing Smith for Keane and Kewell for Matteo, but it was the Mancunians who grabbed the initiative on 64 minutes through their own substitute Luke Chadwick.
Scholes set it up, drilling the ball forward for Solskjaer to try an angled drive which Martyn could only parry straight into the path of Chadwick who, from two yards and with an empty net in front of him, simply could not miss.
Smith brought the best out of Barthez with a stunning shot in the 78th minute, but Leeds appeared to be fast running out of ideas.
Kewell's excellent volley fully tested Barthez but he was once again equal to the task and Leeds finally carved a way through six minutes from time.
Mills did ever so well to whip over a cross from the right, Bowyer glanced it on and Viduka powered home his header from close range for a deserved equaliser.
Said Leeds manager David O'Leary: "Fabien Barthez should not have been on then field to save the penalty. The last 20 minutes we really got at them, we got a good equaliser and the linesman then gifted them an offside decision.
"We tried to win the game and we should have won the game."
Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson said: "For all the pressure they had they never really looked like breaking us down and a draw was a fair result.
"I don't know if the ref saw the penalty incident, but if he's kicked out it's a sending-off. We needed a stronger referee. He is one of the weaker ones."
You can say that again.