This could’ve been tricky. Newcastle have a lousy record at Old Trafford but on their last visit here, just over a year ago, they beat United at Old Trafford for the first time since 1972. The protests that were raging against Alan Pardew’s incumbency a few months ago have gone somewhat muted in recent times as Newcastle had built up a good run of results which included beating this seasons likely champions Chelsea, a few weeks ago at St James Park. Such was the revival in Newcastle’s fortunes that paper handkerchief manufacturers were in serious danger of laying workers off due to the fact that Geordies weren’t crying in the stands, their broon ale or threatening to burst the banks of the Tyne with their relentless squawking after a bad result. A last minute goal from Adam Johnson the other day for Sunderland and United’s eventually easy win today should see normal service resumed for Kleenex pretty soon.
United players celebrate Robin van Persie’s goal in the 53rd minute (photograph courtesy of Neil Meehan)
Scousers weren´t confident coming into this match. The ones I talk to had a similar demeanour about them as we did when we last (properly) played them in March. I wasn´t falling into that trap. I expected Liverpool to up their game from recent fixtures, they always do when they play United. I certainly didn´t expect United to win as emphatically as they did.
Liverpool had the better of the early play but the tone of the game was set up succinctly in the 12th minute when Raheem Sterling missed the first of three great oportunties he was to have this game. Twenty five seconds later, Wayne Rooney put United 1-0 up after Antonio Valencia took out three Liverpool players with a nutmeg on Joe Allen. It´s incredible how such a short space of time could have such a polarising influence on a game of football. If Liverpool had gone ahead, United would have had a job and half breaking them down.
This banner wasn´t allowed to be displayed in the J Stand yesterday because some lily livered jobsworth at Old Trafford didn´t like it. You never see provocative banners at Anfield now do you? (photo courtesy of Neil Meehan and banner designed by Mark Speakman)
In a day when Arsene Wenger celebrated his one thousandth game with a record equalling defeat at Stamford Bridge; in a day where Andre Marriner made a refereeing mistake that will give him indefinite sleepless nights; in a day when Daniel Sturridge bravely shook off the national vilification for his disgraceful antics last week with a goal at Cardiff (waddya mean you’ve heard nowt about it?), Wayne Rooney equalled, then surpassed Jack Rowley’s scoring tally and stole the headlines with a goal from 58 yards at the Boleyn Ground. It’s hard to say which is Rooney’s best ever goal and it can obviously only ever be a matter of opinion anyway, but it’s comfortably the furthest goal he’s ever scored. The goal has been constantly compared to David Beckham’s goal against Wimbledon at Selhurst Park in August 1996. Personally, I think it’s more akin to Nayim’s fantastic goal for Real Zaragoza against Arsenal in the 1995 European Cup Winners Cup Final in Paris (shown below). Like Andre Marriner, West Ham United keeper Adrian will have a few sleepless nights coming up. Even with admiring the brilliance of Rooney’s initiative, a keeper should never be beaten from that distance (unless you’re David Seaman)