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By ESPN Staff

Your verdict: Old Trafford

Sunday's explosive clash between Manchester United - and our Insider's report of events - provoked an avalanche of email to

Below, a selection of the best for your entertainment and enragement. Do keep send the mail coming on this and any of the other hot topics in football.


  • Hoddle 'devastated' by sacking
  • FA probe Old Trafford fracas
  • Ranieri: Abramovich is backing me

    Your Verdict:

    Did Vieira deserve the first booking? Probably not
    Did Van Nistelrooy deserve a booking for jumping in? Yes
    Did Vieira deserve a second booking? Yes, for intent
    Should the FA fine and dish out a ban to at least Keown and Lauren?. Most definitely.
    Did the referee have a good game? Under the circumstances, as far as I could see, yes!
    Should Mr. Wenger be responsible for controlling his team and admit to some blame? Most definitely!
    Arsenal have been a disgrace to English football all week!

    Gareth Hughes, WBA fan

    All I can say is that Arsenal players and manager were DISGUSTING in their sportsmanship!


    Vieira might well deserve his ejection, but Van Nistelrooy should be kept under a close watch by Referees and the FA. He falls dramatically (but artfully) on a regular basis - but especially in the Penalty area. Of course, he isn't alone. Somehow, this vile practice has to be stamped out and, at present, ONLY the referees have the wherewithal.

    Roy Anderson, Ontario, Canada.

    'Ferguson then went onto defend Van Nistelrooy and praised his players' discipline. 'My players behaved properly,' he said. No-one could argue with that.' I argue with that, was The Insider at the game? Did he/she see the Neville punch, did he/she see Fortune rugby tackle Lehmann. Other than that great article!

    Phil Jones

    I'm sorry but I must take issue at Insider's characterization of the Arsenal-Man Utd match yesterday - or at least part of it. I agree that the Arsenal players' reaction after the match ended was excessive.

    But you completely underplay the ugliness of Van Nistelrooy's foul on Vieira which caused the entire series of events. Look at the video replay and tell me that there was not deliberate and malicious intent in the midair stamp which the Dutch player administered to the Arsenal captain.

    Then tell me anyone who would not attempt to respond to that. Vieira did not even make contact yet he gets dismissed.

    The sight of Van Nistelrooy smiling slightly afterwards spoke volumes about his satisfaction at having goaded an Arsenal player into dismissal - and he is not the first United player to do so in the past few years.

    Jonathan Cook

    As a neutral, the behaviour of the Arsenal players towards Van Niestelrooy was disgusting and puts English soccer to disgrace. We never expect this from players, sure spectators tend to behave like hooligans (thats all over the world) but for professional players to act like this has cast the English game in a very [poor] light.

    What I also found very disappointing was that it was mainly the English players that behaved like idiots (Keown, Parlour and Cole).

    F Tilly

    [The Insider's] is the most biased write up I have ever read and is totally unfair. Clearly written by a Manu U fan - it will only go on to incense people even more - what a complete idiot. You are a joke. Every Arsenal player was a hero yesterday. Rudd (sic) is a complete cheat.

    Terry Atton

    Unbelievable that Aserne Wenger has the nerve to defend his players' showing at Old Trafford yesterday. If the FA fails to take punitive measures against Keown, Cole and the whole lot of Arsenal players for such indecent attack on Ruud, the Chief Executive must convince the world why he should not be showed the door. One would expect a repeat of this rotten behaviour when the two teams meet at Highbury. FA, please act.

    J Ngosa, Lusaka, Zambia

    Absolutely disgusting behaviour from the Arsenal players. This game was viewed by millions all over the world. What kind of message is being sent out to youngsters who will be playing the game in the future? The FA certainly need to step in and discipline Arsenal. Fine them and dock them at least 6 points.

    We know Van Nistelrooy is no angel and may provoke other players but there is no reason for the Arsenal players to have reacted the way they did. Man Utd's behavior on the day was good.

    Hoping we do not see too much of this again (in any sport).

    Steve Theron, South Africa

    Surprising that Arsene Wenger could not see Pires dive last week, but has perfect vision this week. The whole planet saw Pires dive. He obviously cannot control his players behaviour during any game.


    I'm a Chelsea fan and I loathe Manchester United, but in seeing that at the end of the game I'm getting towards hating Arsenal for the way they acted. That was disgusting.

    Adam Tweed, New Zealand

    Van Nistelrooy was not responsible for the sending off Patrick Vieira. Face it, Patrick, it's your silly immature reactions that leave the referee no choice but to send you off. Thumbs up to the referee.


    Insider you are you are clearly a Manure supporter. It's obvious to me that the British Press and the FA are Manure fans too and van Nist is the dirtiest player in England and will continue to get away with it. Maybe that's why you guys enjoy engaging in Arsenal smear campaigns. Just remember that not everybody are Manure fans so you don't have to suck up to the world to sell your smelly yellow rags. [Blimey! Ed.]

    Frederick of Singapore

    I'm a Villa fan, poor me!) but I just have to add my opion after seeing the way the Arsenal camp has branded van Nistelrooy a cheat, amongst other names. Vieira has no right to say anything bad about van Nistelrooy, as the fact is that he did lash out, no matter how provoked he felt at the time. Beckham got a straight red in France for a similar offence, so in my opion Vieira can actually count himself lucky.

    Also, the treatment of van Nistelrooy after his missed penalty was simply disgusting. To me it showed the un-professionalism still seen at this level.

    Pat, Sydney

    I watched the match with a bunch of Arsenal supporters. EVEN THEY can't think of anything to say to defend their team's behaviour.

    Hui Min Chong

    I don't follow Man U or Arsenal but Vieira is being pathetic. The rules of the game clearly state that it is a dismissable offence to 'kick or attempt to kick' and he only recieved a caution! Wake up to yourself and play the game.

    Andrew Gardner

    Arsenal were appaling after the whistle, but Manchester United were just as bad. They should be heavily punished for the abuse and petty pushes and kicke for the other 90 minutes.

    Van Nistelroy is a cheat. Everyone knows it, and the Fa must act and penalise him too. Keown and Keane are not better, and also deserve some punishment.

    Brian Charlick

    There is no excuse for this type of behavior and I sincerely hope that the goading, violent Arsenal players will be taught a lesson that they don't forget. Rudd Van Nistelrooy may not be entirely innocent, but his actions were all under the auspices of playing the game. After taking the penalty he was pushed and swore at, hit and abused.

    Jonathan Berman

    An inquiry into this match would only ruin the electric atmosphere this game enfuses for the millions watching.

    The governing body are so woeful at making the right decisions during a game. How can you put so much stock in them outside a game. You can't fool the readers into thinking the FA are totally useful at what they do.

    What's done is done. They should just let it go.

    Ken Muir

    Climb down off your high horse, 'Insider'. Did Ferguson pay you to write that column or are you just a disgruntled man u supporter hoping to get Arsenal docked a few points?

    You want the FA to 'act upon what occured after the final whistle or we should all pack up and go home..' Oooohhh! Don't you like those nasty men pushing men each other then? Perhaps you should pack up and start watching knitting competitions instead? Because for me it's pretty pathetic if two great rivals, with a lot of pride and honour at stake, not to mention trophies, can't engage in a bit of tame argy bargy of the sort we saw at the end of that match.

    Michael Posner

    Your Insider's analysis of events as they unfolded at Old Trafford has got to be the most shocking, disgraceful and misinforming piece of sports writing I have ever read.

    Pedzisayi Mangezvo

    I think it is time you gave some serious consideration to Van Nistelrooy's behaviour. He may play for Manchester United. He may be a proficient striker at home and abroad. He may play hard. But he is also very well known to try deception whenever he feels it may gain him an advantage. And too often it does.

    Nels Hanson, Boston, MA USA

    I have to agree with the Insider one hundred percent. Arsenal's conduct at the end definitely deserve some type of sanctions.

    Donald Lubecki

    Vieira's reaction showed a lack of leadership, the captain's armband means more than being the best player, it means setting an example to the rest of the team. The example he set was revealed later by his team mates, uncontrolled petulance. They obviously don't understand sportsmanship and the Arsenal players lack of self control was disturbing.

    Dunc, Australia.

    I am an ardent Arsenal supporter although at times like these I wonder why? They were a disgrace after the game. Come on Arsene! Patrick deserved a second booking, read the rule book. I am so sick of his excuses for inexcusable behaviour of the players. I think it is a real shame that the game is soured like that because it was an intriguing game of football.

    Ruben Zandman, Auckland, New Zealand

    With Wenger refusing to discipline his players, they have an open invitation to act like animals. He can try and shift the blame, but the Arsenal record speaks for itself.

    I hope the F.A. have the fortitude to get this right and send a message to the football world. This cannot be tolerated whatever the reason.

    Ian Teale, Redondo Beach, Ca

    I've said it a thousand times to anyone who'd listen. Ruud Van Nistelrooy is not a soccer player at all. All his goals come within the 6-yard box acting as a rebound board for teammates to deflect their hard work into goals. When required to earn his wages, fails for following:

    a. not fast - lots of swinging arms, pumping legs to impress and hide pedestrain pace
    b. cannot dribble & carry ball some distance into box to shoot
    c. keeps falling down - unbalanced, high centre-of-gravity
    d. cannot trap balls dead - seems to bounce a metre from him for opponents to steal from under his nose
    e. cannot convert one-on-one against keeper - either straight at keeper's body or balloons it - cannot chip rushing keeper
    f. oh, yeah! cannot take penalties

    Forlan, Giggs, Solskjaer in combination during last season's Nov2002 to Dec2002 scintillating play (without Ruud, Becks, Keane) shows United have better scoring power. Breathtaking play to boot - incisive passing, pacy - one Champions League match against Spanish Deportivo? was memorable.

    United fan since around 1968 win over Benfica a la Pete Kenyon. :-))

    Arsenal will probably be slaughtered in the press after yesterday, and in some ways rightly so. What they did after the penalty and after the game simply doesn't belong at a football picth. But to blame it all on them would be unfair. RvN again showed why he's one of the most disliked players in the Premier League. Am I the only one who saw him kicking Vieira to the ground after first fouling him. And his reaction to Vieiras "ghostkicking" was disgraceful.

    Stein Elvevold

    Agree with your comments on Arsenal's (some of the teams) behaviour post the final whistle. I can't ever remember a more embarrassing spectacle for Premiership Football as the one witnessed at Old Trafford by 3 or 4 of the Arsenal players against Ruud V.

    I'm neither an Arsenal or Man U. fan. Indeed, I support a team looking to usurp them from the top of the table. But I've always enjoyed the sheer class and talent of individuals that have been drawn to these two clubs. So, a sad day for football and a sad reflection of what the whole world, including tomorrows footballing heroes (ie our teenagers) will regard as acceptable behaviour on the field.

    Brian Saville

    Whether Vieira made contact or not with van Nistelrooy is irrelevant. If I pulled a gun on somebody, fired off a round and missed I'd still get charged! And I don't blame the Dutchman for recoiling and getting out of kicking distance after the lunge. Did people just expect to remain there within reach?

    Keith Morgan, Vancouver, Canada

    Since Arsene has taken over the reins, I have watched the discipline record slip as pragmatism and callousness have crept into the Arsenal camp without much interference from the manager. Ultimately the manager is responsible for condoning and not correcting the "lack of fair play spirit" within Arsenal camp.

    I was watching the match with a few MU fans and a couple of fellow Arsenal fans, and I really have no choice words to defend the behaviour of Vieira and the entire backrow of Arsenal. Even my MU friends were shaking their heads as we are all totally disgusted at the scenes after the match.

    While this will not stop my support for Arsenal, I would not be surprised if a hefty fine and/or suspension of a few players and/or docking of a couple of points were the end result dished out by the FA.

    Most neutrals love to hate MU but not for their lack of fair play spirit, but more because we want to cut down tall poppies and that so many just support them cos they win often. I salute the way most players of MU had reacted throughout the match.

    Like em of hate em, it took a lot for the MU players NOT to have inflicted more reaction to the taunts, which would have send the match to an even dirtier ending.

    Larry L, Kuala Lumpur

    Praise to the insider for a good article. Any football fan who watched that game knows Arsenal disgraced themselves Sunday. As for them who are screaming their heads of at RVN come on! What about Pires last week and Ashley Cole any week!!!!

    It does not change the fact that the Arsenal players lost it at the final whistle and something should be done to prevent that happening again.

    Thor, Reykjavík, Iceland

    Football matches between Arsenal and Man Utd have always been entertaining, pulsating and fiery. Last Sunday's game clearly shows the competitiveness and rivalry between these two teams at the highest level. However it has been marred by the threatening and unruly behaviour of certain players after the final whistle was blown.

    During the game the referee made a decision and whether it's right or not it should be accepted as final. Players and fans should accept the result at the end of the match. The correct avenue to refute the referee's decision is by way of appeal to the FA.

    Fortunately, Rudd van Nistelrooy did not retaliate to the intimidation of the Arsenal players as matters may be worse. I understand the frustration of Arsenal in losing the title to Man Utd last season. However such frustration should not be carried forward to this year.

    The FA should investigate this matter thoroughly and mete out the necessary punishment to players at fault.


    This whole nonsense about pushing and shoving after the whistle is ridiculous. This is a man's game. You see Keown elated at a sign of justice and you call it menacing. You see Lauren grappling with Phil Neville and you call it disgusting but when you see G Neville and Fortune throw their weight around it is called acting sensibly and with restraint.

    This is typical of the Man Utd bias that exists in our game.

    Vieira should not have kicked out. We know this from the World Cup in France, but RVN, the man who set the whole chain of events in motion and who was at the centre of controversy well after the final whistle, escaped and will escape further punishment.

    Aside from all this mess, is the FA competent enough to adjudicate on this matter? After all, it was their allocation of a completely out of depth referee which sparked repercussions all over the pitch.

    Alan Mait

    If anything positive comes out of this whole mess I hope that this really brings a crackdown on diving and gamesmanship in football. I'm not a great fan of either of these teams or any of the players involved. While I don't think RvN was entirely blameless in this incident the reaction of the Arsenal players was totally inexcusable.

    Arsenal need to be punished by the FA for their conduct, and it would be the sweetest justice if the FA could dock them some more for sheer hypocrisy. Nobody is less entitled than Arsenal to complain of poor sportsmanship by their opponents.

    Mike Green, Auckland, NZ

    It's finally happened-someone at Highbury is going to stand up and be accountable for the actions of the club. Hopefully, Peter Hill-Wood will finally insist on the discipline that Arsene Chicken-Wenger won't administer for their dreadful discipliary record. But why didn't he do anything over the past six years?

    David Rutledge, Talbott, TN

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