Riley! No, really!
By Les Roberts
Updated Tuesday, 14th April 2009
I don't think there's anyone, except perhaps United fans, that will be happy with the news that Mike Riley is to take charge of Sunday's FA Cup semi-final.
Steve Bennett was initially pencilled in to referee the match but he has subesquently fallen ill and has been replaced by not-really-anyone's-favourite official.
Feelings still run deep against Riley after he awarded Man United a match winning penalty 11 minutes from time on the final day of the 2002/03 season.
The spot kick, awarded to and scored by van Nistelrooy, after a trademark tumble by the Dutchman put Everton into a seventh placed finish when they had been no lower than sixth place, the final UEFA Cup spot that season, since early November!
If my memory serves me correctly, which it rarely does, Riley also allowed David Beckham to move a free kick about ten yards in from the touchline, where the infringment had taken place, and into his striking range...safe to say he cancelled out Kevin Campbell's eighth-minute opener just before half time!
And Riley also famously gave Man United about 300 penalties in one season, still a Premier League record!
The Yorkshire official has taken charge of just two Everton games this season, the 0-2 horror show against those horrors...the ones from over there...when he sent off Tim Cahill for what was, ultimately, a yellow card offence and nothing more and the 1-0 win at Middlesbrough on Boxing Day.
He also took charge of Man United's 3-0 win at Southampton in round three of the FA Cup.
More bad news is that, as usual, he is one of the most card-happy officials in the league with 112 yellow cards and six reds in 29 games this season...so Fellaini had better get Pienaar to put them cornrows back in for him unless he fancies an early bath!
And, in an astonishing bout of glass-half-empty cynicism, this change in referee appears to have ensured that the odds are tipped against the Blues just a little bit more...it's just a good job Man United are shite really!
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