It seems Darren Fletcher can’t get a break in Europe. Having not been selected for Manchester United’s Champions League final victory over Chelsea, then missing last year’s final against Barcelona through suspension, it would appear this year he has a point to prove but incidents like last night’s won’t make his task any easier.
3-1 down and attempting to claw their way back into the game, United thought they had won a penalty when Darren Fletcher has his standing leg taken away by CSKA Moscow’s Aleksei Berezutski but referee Olegário Benquerença disagreed and even went as far as to book Fletcher for diving!
The decision incensed Sir Alex Ferguson, who after the game decreed it as ‘one of the worst decisions I’ve seen in my life time’ and now has raised the idea of being able to appeal yellow cards in fear that the one Fletcher picked up last night will come back to haunt him later on in the competition.
On numerous occasions we as football fans have been robbed of better finals because stars have missed out through suspension, how would Juventus have fared against AC Milan if they had Pavel Nedved for the 2003 Champions League final? Nedved was at the top of his game and went on to win the European player of the year award despite being suspended for the final at Old Trafford.
Or how would the 1999 final have ended had Roy Keane and Paul Scholes been available for Man Utd to face Bayern Munich? My guess is United would not have made as hard a game out of it as they did but that being said we would have missed out on the late drama that made that final so memorable.
If you go further back then you can point to Franco Baresi and Alessandro Costacurta missing the 1994 final against Barcelona, where even without them Milan managed to shut out Romario and Hiristo Stoichkov for a 4-0 win. Sadly Costacurta then missed the 1994 World Cup final through suspension too, where unlike Milan, Italy were unable to win in his absence losing to as Brazil on penalties.
Although not all of these were errors and some should have stood, for UEFA to not even consider appeals against yellow cars or suspensions unless on the grounds of mistaken identity reeks of arrogance. Humans can make mistakes and for others to suffer because of this is ridiculous. Uefa run a fair play scheme but ask Eric Abidal, Daniel Alves and especially ask Darren Fletcher there is nothing fair about UEFA.