Uniteds dads army are the union at Norwich, a despatch from a small town near Ipswich, 26th February 2012

This Friday marks the 21st anniversary of the debut of Ryan Giggs, a match when he came on as a sub in an awful match at Old Trafford against Everton where the Toffees ran out deserved 2-0 winners. Today, Ryan Giggs scored what could be a priceless injury time winner, 899 matches later against a Norwich side who, on balance of play, deserved a draw. The goal was greeted by the United fans in the Jarrold Stand at Carrow Road with the kind of primal roar which normally greets winning goals against Liverpool. There was none of the laconic cool that a good chunk of United’s support and Giggs himself sometimes demeans when United score, everybody, Giggs included, went f$ck%n mental when this goal went in. This goal mattered.

I was expecting a tricky game for United today. No matter how poor their recent form is, Norwich, like a lot of other teams always raise their game when playing against United Last time United came here in April 2005, a soon to be relegated Norwich side played United off the park to win 2-0 in what was one of United’s worst performances in recent memory. In October last year, United beat Norwich 2-0 on a gorgeous late summer’s day at Old Trafford but anybody who remembers that match will remember that the final score concealed a whole multitude of sins. Today’s weather was just as unseasonably pleasant and was looking even better on 7 minutes when Paul Scholes ghosted in on the far post to
head United into the lead.

Such is United’s way though that once an opponent is on the back foot nowadays, United don’t go in for the kill. A shell shocked Norwich were allowed back into the game by some typically sloppy passing from United today. Nani in particular had a shocking game and that’s before I yet again, mention his corners, which are now a recurring theme of a bad dream. David De Gea was again outstanding, on 28 minutes he saved with his feet from a low drive from Anthony Pilkington after a chipped cross from Kyle Naughton. Six minutes later he saved a glancing header from Grant Holt. On 83 minutes, an unusually poor ball from Paul Scholes across his eighteen yard line started the sequence of events which give Norwich their deserved equaliser. Norwich sub, Aaron Wilbraham forces another great save from David De Gea which leaves the United keeper conceding a corner. From the resulting corner, powerful Norwich centre forward Grant Holt controls a Zak Whitbread knockdown, to fire a belter past a despairing and faultless David De Gea.

Suddenly, United start playing again and force pressure on Norwich. Danny Wellbeck, who’d had a great game missed a free header four minutes after Norwich equaliser. It all looked like too little too late until Ryan Giggs, even at this late stage of his career stole three points for United.

Today’s been a long day. I got to Chorlton Street bus station at 7am to pick up the Red Issue/United We Stand coach. There was all kind’s of waifs and strays walking about, young lads and lasses coming out of nearby all nighters and hungover reds stood on Chorlton street in sullen silence wondering what the hell they were doing there at this hour. We got to Norwich at midday and were directed by an unusually pleasant and helpful policeman to the Compleat Angler pub on Prince of Wales road, by the banks of the River Wensum. On the bus going to and from Norwich, the reds were in good wit and fine voice. Chants of “De Gea, De Gea de David De Gea” to the tune of SL2s old rave classic
On a ragga tip (a tune I first heard on an all nighter in the Banshee, Oxford street 20 years ago). There were also a new chant of “Viva Ronaldo” which included in these Glazerian times, the very optimistic line of put him on a plane, bring him back from Spain. My favourite though was the chant of You are Scholes, Scholes, always believe in Paul Scholes
which went to the tune of “Gold” by Spandau Bollocks (sic). Why chants like these never take off in the ground is beyond me. It took an hour to get out of Norwich today after the game, but the locals kept us all well entertained with their middle and duel fingered salutes. It’s very hard to take seriously, anybody aiming abusive gestures while wearing Norwich shirts. .

After the recent impressive rendition by Ajax fans, the Bob Marley classic Three Little Birds has caught the imagination of United fans. If you’re gonna be influenced by visiting fans in European competition, I’d rather it be that song, than us standing with our backs to the game looking wacky. In the coach park today as we were boarding the home bound bus, there was a fella in the corner, really getting into the spirit of the song by singing don’t worry about de ting, cos every li’l ting’s gonna be alright.

On the way to Carrow Road today, I also read the newly published Sun on Sunday and headed straight to Roy Keane’s column. Having read it, I couldn’t believe how bland and forgettable it was. It saddened me to see a man of his integrity, honesty and principle put his name to such a load of pony. A man for whom I’ve always had awesome respect, for his candour and selfless, almost psychopathic endeavour on the pitch for United. If he dosen’t watch himself, he could end up being an embittered gobshite in the mould of Emlyn Hughes and Malcolm McDonald.

There was a lot of understandable dissent and disillusion when Paul Scholes returned to United’s squad for the cup match at City, nearly two months ago. Whilst it’s farcical that a club of United’s size and money generating capabilities are reliant on a returning retiree to galvanise them, it’s no surprise to anybody who’s not been burying their heads in the sand, that this has been coming since the Glazer burglary commenced in May 2005. Whatever the rights and wrongs of United’s hand to mouth transfer policy, one thing is agreed by everybody, Paul Scholes has been sensational since returning to United’s squad from what now looks like a much needed refreshing sabbatical, as opposed to retirement. United have never properly replaced the aforementioned Roy Keane, but have won four league titles and a European cup, since his acrimonious departure in the autumn of 2005. Paul Scholes’s absence this season was so keenly felt that he ending up coming back and replacing himself. What happens when he and Ryan Giggs finally call it a day, God only knows.

The scum that Ajax can’t clean. Manchester, 23rd of February 2012

At the final whistle tonight there was no happiness, no relief or any feeling of job done. The feeling around me in the south stand/B stand of Old Trafford was that Sir Alex Ferguson got away with this by the skin of his teeth. In regards to his team selection, It’s one thing taking Crystal Palace in the League Cup lightly, taking a struggling Blackburn Rovers side for mugs on New Years Eve just gone but it’s another thing altogether taking a team who are their national champions and a club who’ve been European champions four times. The recent form of Ajax, since the resumption of the Eredivisie from it’s mid winter break has been lamentable. They did though give United a moment or two last week in the Amsterdam Arena to show that they were not going to despatched easily, even if United won 2-0 on the night, with a now priceless goal from Javier Hernandez, five minutes from time.

Five minutes into tonight’s game, Hernandez scored again to put United in an apparently unassailable 3-0 aggregate lead. Ajax, urged on by a noisy travelling support deservedly equalised with a low shot from Aras Ozbiliz on 37 minutes. On 86 minutes of a predominantly quiet and anxious second half, Toby Alderweireld put Ajax in front on the night and ensured a twitchy last few minutes at Old Trafford. The strange thing after Ajax scored was there was no urgency to their play. I got the feeling from the Ajax team that they thought there was 20 minutes left.

Sir Alex Ferguson admitted in his post match interview that he got his team selection wrong. He stated that the defence wasn’t strong enough. I respect that opinion but I can only recall one occasion where United’s defence were caught out badly and that was on Ajax’s second goal. The much criticised David De Gea pulled off at least two world class and with hindsight, tie winning saves.

Sir Alex Ferguson post match press conference

Before the match, there were rumours flying around with the same vigour that the Police helicopter was hovering, about shenanigans involving Ajax fans. There were all kinds of brave random attacks on office workers and shoppers and the coup-de-grace was them smashing up the Binary Bar on Arundel street in Hulme. This is the kind of place used by residents of the adjoining flats and not the place where they’d find any of United’s more lively fans. Ajax fans in the ground tonight impressed with their noise and fervour, their shithouse behaviour around the town and it’s immediate suburbs reminded me of the time Leeds United fans terrorised a load of pensioners on Bournemouth beach in May 1990. Ajax are a club who’ve provided some of the most enjoyable teams the world’s ever seen play football. From what I’ve seen and heard in the last week, their fans are the very antithesis of the team they watch. I think the next time they get drawn against United in a European game, like Roma in 2007, they’ll get a very warm reception in Manchester.

Ajax leave a bad stain on the Binary bar in Hulme

Bring on Sunderland and Arsenal…

This time last year, there was a lot of talk in the media of Arsenal being in contention for an unprecedented quadruple. Strictly speaking, that was true, but the stark reality was somewhat different. To have any chance of that quadruple, they had to knock Barcelona out of the European Cup, beat United away in the FA Cup and overhaul either United or Chelsea to win the title. Looking back, it’s a doddle isn’t it ? Firstly though, they had to beat Birmingham City in the League Cup Final at Wembley. Arsenal were hot favourites to beat Birmingham at Wembley but they lost that game to a last minute goal, scored by Obefami Martins. The goal was a result of such a comical misunderstanding between Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Tomasz Szczsny and full back Laurent Koscielny, that it would grace any episode of Laurel and Hardy.

Things are looking a wee bit different for Arsenal at this stage of this season. No chance of winning the title, knocked out of this season’s League Cup by Manchester City and very likely to be knocked out of the European Cup by AC Milan. Not only that, on Saturday just gone, a spineless performance at a half empty Stadium of Light saw that they were knocked out of the FA Cup, compounded by a heartbreaking own goal scored by Alex Oxlade Chamberlain.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain after scoring an own goal at Sunderland

I was at Arsenal a few weeks ago, sat amongst the home fans as United beat them 2-1. That day, some of the natives were unhappy at Arsenal’s performance but were consoling themselves with being in the European Cup and the FA Cup. There were a few mumblings of “Wenger out” and such forth. A decent side of me should be sympathetic towards Wenger and Arsenal. They play good football and have done generally since Wenger replaced Bruce Rioch in the Autumn of 1996. My only thing is that Wenger was picking arguments and giving opinions on things involving United from the start of his tenure as Arsenal manager. Pulling the tigers’ tail so to speak. Nowadays, there’s an entente cordiale between Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger but it’s only a recent thing. After Fergie wound up Kevin Keegan to a frenzy during the run in to the 1996 title, Arsene Wenger decided that once incumbent at Arsenal, he was going to take Fergie on in the mind games. Arsene Wenger was a good opponent, but despite winning three league titles during his time as Arsenal, he’s been trumped emphatically by Sir Alex Ferguson whose United team have won the title nine times during the same period. The last time Arsenal won a trophy was the FA Cup final at Cardiff in May 2005, when they held United at bay for 120 minutes. They then went on to win on penalties after Paul Scholes missed in the shootout and Patrick Viera, with the last time he ever kicked the ball for Arsenal, scoring the winner. The only question is now, from where I’m sitting, is which manager is going to be sacked/leave by mutual consent first between Arsene Wenger and Andre Villas Boas. No matter how pretty the football Arsenal play is, seven years for a club of Arsenal’s size and a team of their quality is an intolerable length of time to go without a trophy.

Arsene Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson at a League Managers Association function

On Saturday, Chelsea played Arsenal’s conquerors in last season’s League Cup final, Birmingham City. If Arsene Wenger’s got problems at Arsenal then Andre Villas Boas position at Chelsea is only an inch or two from being untenable. The problem Andre Villas Boas has got is that he’s inherited an ageing side with a clique of players, in the shape of John Terry, Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba, who are probably more powerful than the manager in situ. Felipe Scholari, a World Cup winning manager no less, was ousted by a players’ coup after less than six months in the job in January 2009. They have a similar malignant influence at Chelsea that Alan Shearer had at Newcastle United. Andre Villas Boas is clearly not strong enough a character to take on the likes of Terry and Drogba in his influence over the team. If a robust character like “Big Phil” Scholari can’t assert himself with that lot, Villas Boas has no chance. After losing a three goal lead at home to United a couple of weeks ago, Roman Abramovich turned up at Chelsea’s Cobham training ground and oversaw Andre Villas Boas’ overseeing training. Maybe the photograph below, printed in the Daily Mail the day after the training session is misleading, but on face value, it’s a pretty humiliating photograph for Villas Boas walking behind Abramovich, looking like his lapdog.

Andreas Villas Boas Following his boss at Cobham

At Stamford Bridge on Saturday, Birmingham City, who in their yellow shirts and white shorts, looked like fried eggs where the yoke had burst, took the lead on twenty minutes with a goal from David Murphy. The first true open signs of dissent towards the manager was apparent from the Stamford Bridge stands, especially a couple of minutes later when a Juan Mata penalty forced a brilliant save from Birmingham keeper Boaz Myhill.

David Murphy celebrates putting Birmingham City in front at Stamford Bridge

At that point, I left the house and jumped on a tram for an occasional visit to Gigg Lane to watch FC United play Frickley. Three days earlier, Frickley had beaten FC United 3-1 in the Doodson Sport Cup and on Saturday, with a penalty and a brilliant strike from 25 minutes from James Ashmore, within 25 minutes, Frickley ran up a 2-0 lead. FC United hit the post more times than Royal Mail job cuts during the game but got back into it after a fantastic individual goal from Carlos Roca when he smashed the ball into the roof of the net from a seemingly impossible angle. With the Frickley penalty area resembling the Alamo, FC midfielder Nicky Platt equalised on the stroke of ninety minutes with a header. The fact that FC United didn’t win was a travesty; if they had lost, it would have been the biggest robbery since Arsenal won the FA Cup from United in 2005.

United Wipe The Floor With Ajax – Manchester 16th of February 2012

Against the bookies’ odds, but of no great surprise to me and needing only a draw to progress, United lost to Basle in early December to leave themselves playing in Europe’s secondary cup competition for the first time since the late summer of 1995. That season Rotor Volgograd knocked United out on away goals. There was a lot of disappointment when United were knocked out of the Champions League. While I wasn’t too happy about it, I was hardly distraught about the Reds being knocked out of a competition which looking at it realistically, United didn’t have a prayer of winning. Couple all that with the fact that United have never won the UEFA Cup/Europa League, my attitude is what the hell, there’s always next year (providing the Cristiano Ronaldo money gets spent this summer…)

There have been many friendly matches between United and Ajax but tonight is the first time the clubs have met competitively since 1976. When the draw was first made in the middle of December, my mobile phone was agog with incoming text messages, all basically saying the same thing,”What a draw, are you having it ?” Having been to Amsterdam several times, a couple of them involving United, I initially was going, come hell or high water. It’s only an hour flight from Ringway Airport to Schipol but, as is the way, flight prices suddenly went through the roof and United were only allocated 2000 (approx) tickets for the match. When I was younger, it wouldn’t have been a problem, I would have gone, ticket or no ticket confident in the knowledge that a jib would have been done easily enough, especially in Holland where, in days of yore, security was famously slack. Nowadays, I want the guarantee of entry to the game before spending at least £250.00 on a flight and going through all the rigmarole and expense of arranging digs. One thing I do know, anybody who didn’t get into the match, should be having a rare old time in Amsterdam tonight, smoking hand rolled cigarettes unique to the Netherlands, possibly enjoying the very gracious hospitalty and welcome that the some ladies in Amsterdam are world famous for providing.

United fans outside The Old Sailor on the Ouderzijds Achterburgwal

Ajax are a true giant of European football. Tonight, United were (correctly as it turned out) hot favourites to beat Ajax. All the British and Dutch media were predicting a comfortable victory for United with recent form in mind. I’ve too much respect for Ajax as a football club to take any victory against them as a given, no matter how poor their recent form is. We’ve all seen poor teams beat United. With Blackburn Rovers and Liverpool, I’ve seen two mediocre sides beat United since Christmas so I wasn’t taking anything for granted tonight. A 2-0 win, on paper looks like a comfortable win but Ajax, in the first half at least, gave United a scare or two, most memorably on 30minutes when David De Gea made another top class save, to prevent Siem De Jong from scoring.

Ryan Giggs, much to the chagrin of the British media, who’d been writing commemorative pieces for his expected 900th appearance for United tonight, the United fans who’d been singing Giggs is going to Amsterdam (to the tune of Love Will Tear Us Apart) since the draw had been made and to the possible relief of his wife, didn’t travel with the United squad for this game. United could have used Giggs well tonight, particularly in the first half when Nani was having one of those nights, Nani’s corner on six minutes, which went straight out for a goal kick, being spectacularly poor even by his standards.

The second half kicked off with Ajax fans singing Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds at impressive volume. The atmosphere provided tonight by the Ajax fans was fantastic (at least it sounded so on the telly). As much for the noise as Ajax fans made, United started to get a grip on the game and after some sustained pressure, Ashley Young turned the Ajax defence inside out and back in again before putting the ball through Ajax goalkeeper, Kenneth Vermeer’s legs to put United 1-0 up on 59 minutes. The United goal flattened Ajax. After that, despite only being a goal behind, United were in complete control of the game. Ajax were mostly trying shots from distance, whenever they managed to get in the United half. On 86 minutes, United counter attacked again when Antonio Valencia pulled his hamstring winning the ball in midfield before feeding Wayne Rooney on the left flank. Rooney placed a perfect low cross for the oncoming Javier Hernandez to slide ball home for United.

“Thursday night, Channel 5” has been the ever-so-cutting chant from oposition fans since United were knocked out of the Champions League in December; most of the people who’ve been doing this chanting only get a taste of European/continental football when they’re watching England getting inevitably knocked out of tournaments every couple of years. I’ll forgive them, they know no better. The “Thursday night…” chants reached a nadir at Old Trafford a couple of weeks ago when fans of Stoke City were singing it at United fans. This is the same Stoke City who played tonight, this Thursday night, and lost at home to Valencia.

Some things never change, the standard of inane commentary of football matches in this country, no matter what channel it’s on is always the same. My favourite commentary passage tonight came on 35 minutes when the Channel 5 commentator see’s the camera zoom in on Sir Alex Ferguson and asks’ co-commentator Graham Taylor, if he’s sat in the same spot as he was for the Holland/England match in 1993. Graham Taylor wasn’t sure but did say that he was walking on the spot, just outside the penalty area where Ronald Koeman fouled David Platt in the same match prior to tonights match kicking off. What nobody pointed out was that the infamous Holland/England match in 1993 took place in Rotterdam.

 

Thanks to Rick Kelly of  www.rkellyphoto.com  for the lend of his equipment and his help to me in typing this blog

The Scouser in the wig beats the the scousers in the white hoods. Old Trafford, Manchester 11th of February 2012

Since the Glazer takeover in 2005, there’s a hell of a lot of things that Sir Alex Ferguson has said that I don’t agree with but after his recent handling of the Luis Suarez business, I look and think, thank Christ he’s United’s manager. He’s dealt with this affair with a dignity that Sir Matt Busby and Sir Bobby Charlton would be proud of. With Liverpool’s desperate lies and dirtypropaganda of Patrice Evra kicking off hours after he made his complaint to the referee in the aftermath of last October’s match, the overwhelming temptation from Old Trafford must have been, at the very least, to have defended Evra’s integrity robustly. United have kept a quiet dignity throughout the whole investigation while Kenny Dalglish has resembled Hitler during the battle of Berlin. The latest lies to have been spread by the Liverpool camp were today when they claimed it was actually Evra who’d pulled his hand away from Luis Suarez during the pre-match handshake. As Gary Neville pointed out in the SKY TV studio gantry at Old Trafford, in front a clearly stressed out and literally straw clutching Jamie Redknapp, there’s a million cameras from a multitude of angles filming the exchange (or lack of) and it’s plainly obvious after all this time that Suarez doesn’t believe he’s done anything wrong. All this despite Kenny Dalglish promising the watching world prior to this match, that Suarez would shake Evra’s hand before kick off.

Luis Suarez refuses to shake the hand of Patrice Evra pre kick off

The rubbish that’s been pouring out of Liverpool FC since this all started in October would have Ali Hassan Abd al-Majid (Chemical Ali) and Joseph Goebbels cringing with embarrasment due to its lack of plausibility. In post match interviews, Sir Alex Ferguson is famously ambiguous and evasive, today he was unusually forthright in his opinions offered after the match. He said Luis Suarez was a disgrace to a club of Liverpool’s standing and history and he should never play for them again. Liverpool may have been a great club when managed by decent and dignified men like Bill Shankly, Bob Paisley & Joe Fagan and they had gentlemen like Ian Callaghan playing for them. These fellas are the exception rather than the rule. What we’ve known for many years in Manchester, the rest of the world appear finally, to be waking up to. Apart from the fact that he’s obviously a good and skilful footballer, Luis Suarez and the person he is, is at the perfect football club and it’s verminous rabble of supporters. Liverpool, a city that originally made its worldwide reputation in the trading of slaves that were stolen from Africa and a city whose Wavertree district proudly hosted the BNP annual conference three weeks after the original Luis Suarez/Patrice Evra incident last October is the perfect place for a man like Luis Suarez to ply his trade.

In a tense and freezing Old Trafford, Liverpool started the brighter of the two sides with Glen Johnson hitting the ball just to David De Gea’s far right hand side on nine minutes. On 30 minutes, Scholes started and nearly finished a fantastic move which left him with a free header which he put straight into the hands of Pepe Reina. The first time I remember Luis Suarez coming up against Patrice Evra in the match was in first half injury time when he performed a brilliant body swerve to leave Evra chasing a shadow. Rio Ferdinand makes a brilliant goal saving challenge to mug Luis Suarez of the ball. Ferdinand had to get that challenge right or it would have resulted in either a sending off or an almost certain Liverpool goal.

I later find out that Jamie Redknapp believed Rio Ferdinand should have been sent off for that challenge as, according to the gospel of Jamie, Suarez did touch the ball. The subtext of that comment is a classic one from a Liverpool player past or present, one who has much chagrin that somebody had dared tackle a Liverpool player as they’re running through on goal. This is the same Jamie Redknapp who’d said in the pre-match build up that Suarez coming back today was identical to the comeback Eric Cantona made sixteen years ago in a match against Liverpool. The similarities were: Cantona like Suarez, wore the number 7 shirt, both players had served bans which involved the number 8, Suarez eight matches & Cantona eight months and also there’s also the racial angle. Eric Cantona got an eight month ban for attacking a racist, Luis Suarez got an eight match ban for being one. I’m literally tripping over the similarities, I think the stress of his father’s recent tax evasion trial has obviously got to him.

After Suarez booted the ball into the touchline in frustration on the stroke of half time, I could see players of both sides making their way to the tunnel with a bit more gusto than is normal. Something was obviously at the very least going to be said in there. There have been plenty of rumours since as to what happened, but I’m sure in a couple of days  what really happened will all come out. As for Suarez’s petulant kick at the half time whistle, I believe under normal circumstances that would incur a booking under the rules of dissent (funny how Jamie Redknapp never pointed that out). Last Monday, Suarez kicked Scott Parker of Tottenham Hotspur in the stomach which I believe he should have been sent off for. For all the bullshit that Liverpool churn out about Suarez’s victimisation, I think referees are treating him with kid gloves at the moment.

I’ve become that used to United getting corners and the ball failing to beat the first man that I rarely, if ever, get excited when United get one nowadays. In the first minute of the second half, Antonio Valencia won a corner from Luis Enrique and Ryan Giggs ran up to take it. My mobile phone went off in my pocket, I pulled it out to see what it was and out of the corner of my eye I saw Wayne Rooney volley United into the lead. I jumped around like a lunatic (I always do when United score against Liverpool) but it’s not ’til later I see the goal properly. It seems, for once, Giggs has taken a decent corner and Liverpool have left Rooney free in the six yard box. Four minutes later, ecstacy as Antonio Valencia seizes on a mistake by Jay Spearing to set up Wayne Rooney again who slides it through Pepe Reina’s legs. On the hour, Rooney missed what in my opinion was the easiest chance when through on Liverpool’s goal, he spools it wide of Reina’s left hand post. At this moment, United suddenly looked in danger of running riot. Immediately after that miss, Kenny Dalglish brought on the pony tailed lump Andy Carroll and the ageing but still dangerous Craig Bellamy.

Liverpool fans who were over my right hand shoulder in the old L stand (or for the real vintage, the Old Trafford paddock) were predictably in full and blind support of Luis Suarez in the first half. Whilst there were lulls in their support, after United went 2-0 up, they were silent. Compared to the Arsenal fans who visited earlier in the season and witnessed eight goals being put past them, Liverpool fans’ support at Old Trafford today was pathetic. After singing a song about Wayne Rooney’s wig, there was an abundance of paper airplanes being thrown onto the disabled fans whom were seated immediately in front of them (Scouse wit) and they dug up the Munich song from the old songbook. A song that, in true Liverpool style, they nicked as it was Leeds United fans who originally did it. It just like how they nicked the Rogers and Hammerstein classic, You’ll Never Walk Alone from fans of Glasgow Celtic after they originally sang it in the late 1950s following the release of the film “Carousel”.

Michael Carrick commited a silly foul on Luis Suarez on 80 minutes which earned him a booking and subsequently a goal for Liverpool. Charlie Adam placed it randomly in the United penalty area and the ball bounced off a sleeping and dumbfounded Rio Ferdinand. Falling beautifully for Luis Suarez, he made no mistake from five yards to prod the ball past a despairing David De Gea and gave United fans a nervous last ten minutes. The expected bombardment of the United goal after Liverpool scored didn’t transpire. The worry from my perspective is that any team that has Craig Bellamy, Steven Gerrard or Luis Suarez in it is capable of scoring a goal. Early in injury time, Glen Johnson forced David De Gea to make a brilliant fingertip save for the second match in succession. A minute later, Luis Suarez got a free header in the United six yard box but he headed it over after his teeth were flagged offside.

The final whistle was blown and the relief around the ground was palpable. Patrice Evra celebrated boisterously in front of the United Road stand, K stand, the old main stand before doing his reverse Pete Townsend windmill impression in front of the Stretford End. Evra was criticised on BBC’s Match Of The Day by Johnathan Pierce for his provocative celebration in front of Luis Suarez. At no point during his post match celebration did Patrice Evra look at Suarez. Presumably in Johnathan Pierce’s book, celebrating a win over bitter rivals should be forbidden. I don’t remember anybody in the media getting too upset over the behaviour of Liverpool players facing the United fans in front of the Anfield Road stand after the recent cup match.

Patrice Evra celebrates victory post match in front of the Stretford End

Kenny Dalglish was interviewed post match and gave an interview which could go down in history the same way that Kevin Keegan’s infamous outburst at Elland Road in 1996, Mike Summerbee’s rant after last season’s Old Trafford derby and Rafa Benitez’s notoriously innaccurate & counter productive facts press conference in January 2009 is now viewed. With Kenny Dalglish spending a combined total of £71,000,000 on Jordan Henderson, Andy Carroll and Stewart Downing, I want the second coming of King Kenny to last forever. He can take that club back to the righful place it was before Bill Shankly came and rescued it from the abyss in 1959. I’d love that like Kevin Keegan.

Any United fans who were denied entry to Old Trafford today through being in possession of Red Issue, or anybody who had their copy confiscated in the ground by GMP or the OT security goons, please email redissue@btinternet.com ASAP as they’ll be consulting with solicitors tomorrow.