Skip to main contentAccess keys helpA-Z index

[an error occurred while processing this directive]
| Help
Last Updated: Wednesday, 9 April, 2003, 11:42 GMT 12:42 UK
Big Ron's the Real deal
By Chris Charles
BBC Sport

Ron Atkinson
"I tell you what..."

If you heard the phrase "vital away goal" once on Tuesday night, you heard it a thousand times.

Fair play to the commentary team, who did their best to convince us Raul and co wouldn't score at Old Trafford.

Of course no-one believed them - even after Gary Neville had given United fans a lift by getting suspended for the return leg.

... until they realised Phil Neville would probably be taking his place.

You fear the Theatre of Dreams will finally live up to its name when Zidane and Figo unpack the contents of their travelling magic show on the pitch.

And you'll be able to hear the cheering all the way from Highbury to Anfield.

But at least United die-hards will have something to smile about, in the shape of former manager-turned sit-down comedian Ron Atkinson.

The sheepskin was given a proper airing at the Bernabeu as Big Ron entertained us with his full repertoire of tricks.


United were warned early doors about closing down spaces, as the Ronster announced Real would be "bonking down the sidelines" given half a chance.

Brings a whole new meaning to the term sexy football.

The commentary was peppered with "situations" and "if you likes", as Big Ron admired "the Rauls, the Figos, the Ronaldos and the Zidanes".

As if one of each wasn't bad enough - particularly when you had Silvestre "playing from memory".

Luis Figo celebrates scoring the opening goal for Real Madrid against Man Utd.
Spotter's badge for Figo

And when Atkinson had run out of catchphrases, he simply invented some new words.

According to the great man, Ruud van Nistelrooy was "predating" around the box - perhaps he should stick to good old-fashioned goal-hanging in future.

To be fair, Ron didn't quite exhaust all of the cliches we know and love - even though he had the perfect opportunity in which to do so.

The amount of step-overs demonstrated by Zidane in the first half was crying out for a "lollipops" reference, while United's defence were hardly in the "Wide-awake Club" all night.

Maybe he's saving them up for Old Trafford in a fortnight's time, where you can expect a few spotters' badges for Figo, and Van Nistelrooy going down like Buddy Holly.

One thing's for sure, anyone who thinks United will manage to keep the ball out of their net on 23 April "must have been watching cartoons".

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites
E-mail services | Sport on mobiles/PDAs


Back to top

Sport Homepage | Football | Cricket | Rugby Union | Rugby League | Tennis | Golf | Motorsport | Boxing | Athletics | Snooker | Horse Racing | Cycling | Disability sport | Olympics 2012 | Sport Relief | Other sport...

BBC Sport Academy >> | BBC News >> | BBC Weather >>
About the BBC | News sources | Privacy & Cookies Policy | Contact us
banner watch listen bbc sport