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Frank Roche: Sir Rolex realises time’s not always on United’s side

Five measly minutes of injury time. It's an insult to football, we say! An insult to the world's most renowned watch-watcher, Sir Rolex Ferguson.

And, most especially of all, an insult to those prolific assassins in red who -- based on their wonderfully pinpoint efforts over the previous 95 minutes -- would surely have added the two goals required to see off Leeds United if only referee Chris Foy had played the correct amount of injury-time that the occasion demanded.

Yet, on that latter point, Curve Ball is ever so slightly confused. At times, you see, five additional minutes are more than enough for Sir Rolex. Back in the last millennium, 1999 to be chronologically precise, a trifling three minutes was sufficient to satisfy the world's most objectional -- correction, objective -- time-keeper. That was the time Teddy Seiko and Ole Gucci Solksjaer struck twice in additional time to send Bayern Munich cuckoo while, for once, subverting the notion that you should never write off the Germans.

Just three more was also enough to prevent the usual bout of wrist-pointing pontification last April. Then, Federico Macheda -- who was so young he hadn't been born when injury-time began -- showed perfect timing with a 93rd-minute winner against Aston Villa. At other times, admittedly, special circumstances demand specially-elongated contests. Earlier this season, it was only right and proper that the referee should allow Michael Omega to silence the Man City sheikhs in the sixth of four additional minutes.

You see, when the opposition has already equalised in the 90th minute, and then had the temerity to cynically waste time with their ballistic celebrations, there is a long-established Premier League rule that play must continue until Sir Rolex's stopwatch deems the match to be officially over.


Don't believe us? Then turn your own stopwatch back to April 1993 and the very first Premier League season. United are trailing 1-0 in front of their own increasingly addled supporters. They haven't won the league since 1967; another tantalising chance could be slipping away ... but it sure helps when seven extra minutes are played.

Enter Steve Bruce, whose two bullet-headers came so late that commentators thought United were actually playing Sheffield Thursday.

Last Sunday, though, they could have been playing until next Friday and they probably still wouldn't have scored. So instead of pointing to his watch, maybe Sir Rolex should point Wayne Rooney in the direction of the nearest blacksmith.

Failing that, Curve Ball would like to buy Citizen Insane an alternative watch -- second-hand, unfortunately, in these recessionary times, but American-made and guaranteed to work. It's called an old Fossil.