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)
A strong smell of splff blissed everybody out as we headed towards half time in an awful game. Apart from a stupid booking for Patrice Evra, a Ryan Giggs shot hitting the bar and a correctly disallowed Adnan Januzaj goal for offside, nothing much had happened apart from plenty of impotent United possession. Inspired by the aroma of the Casbah, reds were looking at each other and remarking how cool everything is. This happy catatonia was brutally disrupted when Ryan Giggs maintained his incredible record of scoring in every season since 1990/1991 in first half injury time. Unfortunately, for the first time in 23 years, he had put the ball into his own net having been pressured by his fellow Salfordian, Phil Bardsley, into doing so. The feelings of a mutual loving of mankind, evaporated almost immediately and transformed itself the usual atmosphere at football matches of loathing and hostility. Normal service was resumed. Half time and there was a sense of numb disbelief. Nobody could comprehend how Sunderland, a side who didn’t even know who was playing in goal for United, could be 1-0 up.
Sebastian Larsson (bottom right hand corner) about to take the free kick which lead to Sunderlands goal in first half injury time
Losing at Anfield under normal circumstances is forgivable, never nice but forgivable. No matter how shit Liverpool are, they always make a visit to Anfield a hard game for United. They raise their game, play out of their skins and all other cliches that can and will, be recited ad nauseum over the next couple of weeks whilst Liverpool celebrate winning their first title in twenty four years. Today, United had seven corners to Liverpools two. United who for the last few years have taken corners like an articulated lorry, never looked like threatening a stout home defence whilst Liverpool, scored from their first corner on three minutes after Tom Cleverley ducked out of the way of a goalbound Daniel Sturridge header. This was a bad goal to concede but there was plenty of time to regroup and put some sustained pressure on the Liverpool goal. For the next ninety two minutes (obviously including injury time), United ‘enjoyed’ 57% possession compared to Liverpool’s 43%. To paraphrase Samuel Johnson though, statistics like ‘patriotism, is the last refuge to which a scoundrel clings’, but these statistics make things even worse. Despite Liverpool not playing brilliantly, despite United’s superior possession and corners, Liverpool deserved this win. Since the final whistle I’ve heard David Moyes say ‘I thought we played well, as well as anytime this season’. I’m only hoping Moyes is presenting a positive front for the media and not truly believing that himself. I can’t believe he would have said the same to the United players in the Anfield changing room post match. I remember Sir Alex saying after United lost at Maine Road in 2002 that ‘we should have let the fans in the changing room after that performance’. I could easily say the same about this disgrace of a showing. The United players who turned out for this game should be locked in a darkened room and shown a video of United/Liverpool matches from the 80’s and 90’s.