Today was one final blast of decent weather for this year before the light draws in and the departing masses leaving Old Trafford, begin to resemble a Lowry painting for six months. After last Sundays thrashing at City and the midweek joy of beating Liverpool, there was a lot of confidence going into Old Trafford today. Despite that defeat last week and the armageddon-esque rhetoric of forthcoming doom from some reds, United went into todays fixture trailing the league leaders by five points having now played Liverpool and City away as well as Chelsea at home. The widely agreed difficult start was out of the way and United were only five points off the pace and we all know, at this stage of the season, that’s nothing. There was only one problem with that assertion, West Brom hadn’t read the script.
Liverpool, having won the League after beating United at Anfield just under four weeks ago, have done what all teams do who win the title early and gone sloppy. Having lost at home to Southampton on Saturday just passed, tonight they lost at Old Trafford with a team that included the return of Bram Stoker’s favourite Uruguayan and also skipper, Steven ‘sussudio’ Gerrard. Prior to tonight’s match, a sizable amount of coaches carrying Liverpool fans entered Old Trafford from Trafford Park Road. Almost every single one of them had Liverpool fans banging furiously on the windows shouting all kinds of incomprehensible but clearly very excitable rhetoric. Once off the coach and mingling towards the turnstiles for the upper tier of the Scoreboard End, they weren’t quite as forthcoming. About forty five minutes before kick off however, I could clearly hear the Munich song being sung loudly on the corner of Trafford Park Road and Warwick Road by what was to my eyes, a firm of about 30/40 young Liverpool fans whom were obviously ‘up for it’. How they managed to get so close to the ground and evade the attention of both the local police and some of United’s more ‘lively’ fans is a mystery to me. Inside the ground, just before Luis Suarez hit the bar on 74 minutes, a Liverpool fan threw a live distress flare into the K Stand. I know plenty of reds who were unhappy about being placed under the scousers for tonights match. After the rarely reported but notorious incident at the FA Cup game at Anfield in 2006 where a plastic cup loaded with excrement was thrown onto United fans by Liverpool fans in the upper tier of the Anfield Road, I don’t blame them. I know that United fans are not perfect, only a one eyed fool would think so but bearing in mind that United have had ticket allocations slashed at Anfield for comparatively spurious reasons, after what happened tonight, I think it’s time United did the same to Liverpool for the League game that’s due to be played in March. I’m aware that strictly speaking, distress flares shouldn’t be lit in football grounds. Personally, they don’t really bother me but it is bang out of order when they get thrown indiscriminately at opposition fans in the tier below, no matter who’s playing who.
Liverpool fans about to launch a distress flare down into the K Stand (Photo courtesy of Rob Mager)
Such is the feeling of anti climax when United get a corner nowadays that when Kolo, Kolo-Kolo, Kolo-Kolo, Kolo-Kolo Toure conceded a soft corner into the Stretford Paddock on 46 minutes, I was expecting it to hit the first available Liverpool player before being cleared harmlessly. That was also the feeling around me in the K stand. When the angry, confused and most definitely revitalised Wayne Rooney found Continue reading A Very Welcome Dose Of Morphine – Manchester 25th of September 2013
Vincent Kompany said in his post match interview on SKY Sports that ‘maybe the game meant a little bit more to us than to them…’. If Kompany has ever uttered truer words than that then I’ve yet to read or hear them. This was as bad a United performance against City that I can ever remember. Just under two years ago, I walked away from Old Trafford having witnessed City beating United 6-1. I was consoled in the belief that even though City were deserved winners that day, 6-1 was a freak result. it was a result against a 10 man team that had gone kamikaze after they had scored a goal at 3-0 down with nine minutes to go. Yesterday was different. When Wayne Rooney scored what was arguably the goal of the match on 87 minutes, United could’ve been 7-0 down and it would’ve been a fair reflection of the game. That it was only 4-0 at the time was due to the fact that with some mercy, City took their foot off the pedal when they scored their fourth on 50 minutes with a far post volley from Samir Nasri. The last time I can remember a United performance as clueless and as spineless as this, was at the Riverside stadium, Middlesbrough in October 2005, a match that had the same result as yesterday. That match inadvertently saw the departure of Roy Keane for comments he made about the game after watching it whilst seething in a hotel bar in Dubai. With a bit of luck, yesterdays performance would have marked cards for certain players in a similar way with David Moyes. I can’t second guess the reasoning of a United manager who spurned the chance of signing Mesut Özil during a summer in which he also granted Nani a new five year contract. For all that, after what I’ve seen from both Ashley Young and Anderson in the past nine days, the only time I’d expect to see them in a United shirt again would be on Thursday nights at Moss Lane in Altrincham playing for the stiffs and even then, only in place of an injury to one of the kids. There are others, more popular terrace figures like Danny Welbeck and Antonio Valencia who must also be skating on thin ice too.
A European Cup semi final in 2002 where United went out on away goals to Bayer Leverkusen, a side that conformed to all the German stereotypes of bland strong efficiency, is still the most heartbreaking and gut wrenching night of my time watching United. I bear no ill to either Leverkusen or their fans, United should’ve beaten them but didn’t due some resolute defending by the Germans and some rank bad luck. When the draw for this seasons group stage was made and with the memory of 2002 coming back like some long forgotten nightmare, I was wary of Leverkusen. I was wrong to be.
Another example of saturation point for European football
After a transfer window where David Moyes struggled to sign an autograph and United’s skills of negotiation made the notorious Garry Cook look the model of professionalism, we are now thankfully back to the real football of United after every small town inbred’s favourite side played Ukraine and Moldova. As we all know, United eventually signed Marouane Fellaini after Everton Chairman Bill Kenwright showed United’s new Chief Executive up for the amateur that he is. Apart from the Warwick Road swag grafters, I can’t think of anybody who’s first choice midfield signing would have been Fellaini, but what I have no doubt about is that he’s a vast improvement on Anderson and Tom Cleverley. For Anderson, it may be a cruel coincidence that he chose yesterday to have possibly his worst ever game for United (there’s some stiff competition for that). It took me ten minutes to realise he was on the pitch, when I first noticed him he gave the ball away in midfield and proceeded to do that for the rest of the first half. When Palace midfielder Kagisho Dikgacoi conceded a very dubious penalty on forty two minutes, Anderson was running to the referee Jon Moss, like a coppers nark mithering him to send off Dikgacoi. Strictly speaking, seeing as the referee believed it to be a foul and Young was the last man, the sending off of Dikgacoi was the correct decision but it sickens me to see any footballer trying to get another footballer booked or sent off. When I see a United player doing it, it disgusts me. As dubious as the penalty was, a half time lead for United was a fair score. Robin Van Persie despatched the penalty with aplomb having been thwarted by the crossbar nine minutes earlier. On the hour, Anderson applied the coup-de-grace to his afternoon by tripping over the ball. Next time the ball went out of play, Anderson instinctively looked over to the United bench expecting to be substituted, it was his wisest move of the day. Fellaini came on to a rapturous welcome and parts of Old Trafford resembled a shebeen on Claremont Road in 1978, such was the abundance of afro syrups springing up in homage to United’s new Belgian signing. Wayne Rooney sealed the game for United on 78 minutes with a well taken free kick from thirty yards. Any result other than a United win would have been a travesty even if Uniteds first goal was never a penalty. Crystal Palace were a game and plucky side but they only threatened United’s goal once, when Dwight Gayle wasted a great oportunity on 41 minutes after ghosting past a napping Rio Ferdinand.