I don't think critics are supposed to mince words and tiippytoe around and say, well, gosh, she must be such a nice person but her stage presence, well, it's a bit bland. One has to use clear language to get across points -- and even reviews that, to me, are very clear are often misinterpreted -- and the shorter the space, the stronger the language.
I also think that, at its base, criticism is WRITING. It's meant to be read, not as a judgment delivered from on high, or a report from a doctor ("Bad news. it's cancer. I give you about a week," which could perhaps be better phrased) but the reaction of an individual, who, one hopes and expects, has seen more ballet than the one night he or she is reviewing, although that's not always the case these days. One may pull punches when writing about a student workshop, but it's not necessary to do so when writing about a major company.
I liked the asides. I viewed them as a way to get across an opinion using very few words, and those opinions are very consistent with Gottlieb's past writings (and, on those two particular dancers, of many others.)
This is obviously a biased view from a critic, but I think critics have a right to get angry. If I were one of the British critics who'd watched the Royal Ballet grow from six girls in a church basement to the powerhouse it was in what Croce called "the high sixties" and had to watch what has been allowed to happen to it over the past two decades, I'd be foaming at the mouth more often than Crisp, I think. When you love something, it's very painful to see it destroyed. And it doesn't help a bit that those who didn't see the company during those high periods think that everything is just fine.
Michael, I can think of at least one other place where "who you know and who is pulling the strings will get you more mileage than it will here. Everything is political here." I think it can be worse in small places, where there's no alternative and no escape -- and no Observer, because all of the newspapers have been corrupted, too.