Spyin' Kop - Liverpool v Manchester United - Sun 23 Sep 13:30

Posted by royhendo on September 21, 2012, 10:25:12 AM



LIVERPOOL             vs             MANCHESTER UNITED

Sunday 23rd September 2012 13:30



This is a tale of two intros. When I first drafted it, and the questions that went with it, we hadn't yet seen the output from the Hillsborough Independent Panel, and debate related to that, and to the behaviour of the fans ahead of the game hadn't come to the fore. As a result, you'll see a football-related chat, with a discussion of the more topical issues added later. Here's to a good game at the weekend and a proper demonstration of empathy and decency from all those who attend. I asked the contributors to be frank and honest, and it's fair to say they've done that. The issues discussed are sensitive and emotive, but it'd be good if we could keep the debate that flows from this as calm as we can.

To the article.

-

In a few days' time Liverpool's Brendan Rodgers, at 39, will face a team that his newly septagenarian counterpart in the visiting dug-out took control of when aged 44. A 26 year head start. 

Ferguson recently said, "If I was a young manager now I wouldn't be daunted about following someone with my record into this job... I was 44 when I took the job, which might be seen as a bit young, but no one would refuse this job after me whatever the situation. This is a club with solid foundations. We have a great stadium, a great training ground and a lot of young players - the future is absolutely solid."

Ferguson inherited a club in the doldrums, and given time, support and authority, has steadily built and reinforced that foundation, honing it with each passing challenge to its hegemony, and incorporating whatever lessons the club needed to learn in the process.

For 26 years.

Rodgers, meanwhile, has inherited a club with a structure and foundation that, while developing, has not yet been allowed to mature and bear fruit under a single manager - a manager capable of putting that kind of foundation in place. (We've had a few of those, you might argue.)

Against that backdrop, the forthcoming fixture between Liverpool and Manchester United provides several clear talking points, and RAWK was glad to have the help of Manchester United fans Stanley Chow, Anthony Shaw of "United We Stand", Shaun Taylor, Shona Whitelaw, and our very own Rossobianchi to talk them through with us.

[Aside - before going on, Stan is one of my favourite illustrators - I highly recommend checking out his stuff here, because it'll make you smile: http://www.stanleychowillustration.com/

Meanwhile, you can find "United We Stand" online here: http://www.uwsonline.com/ ]

-

Q1. With Ferguson at 70 and Rodgers at 39, this match pits one vastly successful and experienced campaigner against another relative 'whippersnapper'. What, to you, does 26 years of Ferguson at the helm of a football club bring you, beyond the silverware? Organisationally, I mean. How has Manchester United grown in that time?

Stan Chow
I've been a Utd fan for over 30 years now...  Before Ferguson, I felt that if we did well in the league it was acceptable, winning a few cups, that was fine... we didn't go into a game expecting a win... Since Mr Alex Ferguson has been here, the mentality and mindset of the players has changed. As fans we expect Man Utd to beat every team which is why we are such bad and ungraceful losers.

Anthony Shaw
I don’t think any supporter wants to see the club become as big as it has; selling the fanzine at the ground really makes it hit home how many of the people at the match have never been there before. You see them laughing at the portable pissers that have been there 10 years as if they are the strangest thing they have ever seen before asking me for a programme. It’s the price of success, ticket prices rise and supporters are replaced. I worry when the current generation of teenagers can watch City for £20 a game cheaper than United.

Shaun Taylor
Stability. To have the same Manager, at the same club, for 25+ years is incredible and I doubt this longevity will be seen, certainly at Premier League level, again.  Couple this with Mr. Ferguson's excellent talent as a Team Leader and you have all the ingredients for producing great teams over and over again.

Shona Whitelaw
Mr Alex Ferguson at the helm brings leadership and discipline. He has changed the way players behave, done away with the drinking culture, and brought through the best ever team by way of the youth system (yes Alan Hansen). The club has grown way beyond even my wildest dreams of 24 years ago. It is now, whether we like it or not, an international brand.

Rossobianchi
MUFC has grown immeasurably; the first thing he did was rid the club of its drinking culture, getting rid of big characters like Whiteside and McGrath showing he meant business. It took him four years to build his squad by which point he had just one player remaining from the 12 he inherited – Robson. That’s when the trophy haul began. His authoritarian approach, always demanding the best, has made the club what it is today. He overhauled the youth setup but not just that, he gave them a chance. It’s tougher to do that these days but it was still a gamble then, flogging three key players like Hughes, Kanchelskis and Ince in 1995 to promote Scholes, Beckham and Butt. And as we’ve seen with other star names he’s quickly discarded, he’s never been afraid to make big decisions which keeps everyone on their toes. He’s still very hands-on, even at 70, surprising ‘menial’ club staff by referencing them by name and he still turns up at Carrington at 7am. His desire and discipline throughout his tenure has been infectious and he’s single-handedly turned us into the machine United are today. He is still massively involved with the youth setup, attending academy games and making every player know what is expected at Manchester United whether they’re 13 or 31. On a similar note, I saw the Rodgers/Sterling exchange when BR gave him a bollocking and I thought that’s exactly what Shankly/Ferguson would have done; make young players realise where they are and what’s expected. Lack of age isn’t an excuse for lack of application. I like Rodgers and think given time, like Ferguson, he could build his own dynasty.






Q2. The summer brought changes in personnel for both sides. Did the new signings excite you? Were you sad to see anyone leave? Is there anyone coming through your youth ranks we should keep an eye out for? And what's the 'plan' behind it all? 

Stan Chow
I was sad to see Park go, though much maligned for his lack of skill and technique, but praised for his industry and endeavour, on his day he is one of the few players who can take a game by the scruff of the neck and win it for you if need be, as I'm sure Arsenal fans can testify. Berbatov as well... I was just sad that he wasn't played... I know Alex Ferguson loves United to play on the counter-attack, and admittedly counter attacks would break down when the ball got to Berbatov because of poor positioning and lack of searing pace, but he was a beautiful player to watch.

I can't fault the signings of Kagawa and van Persie... Kagawa's ability is nothing short of sublime and van Persie, to be fair, I never really liked him and it seemed a very un-Ferguson like signing, but from his performances last season, I'm very happy he's at United.

Larnell Cole is one to watch... a tricky attacking midfielder/winger, but I also think Bebe may surprise one or two this season too. The overall plan is my opinion is for another team to come in for Rooney... Kagawa looks a better player than Rooney when asked to play the deep-lying attacking role, van Persie looks a better a striker too than our Wayne at the moment. All of a sudden he's become disposable.

Anthony Shaw
We signed the players of the year in England and Germany for £35 million, I can’t really complain. I think it will be a year until we see the best of Kagawa as we’ve never had a player like him before.
 
Don’t think there is any plan with signing Van Persie, I just think an excellent goalscorer became available and wanted to join United, so we bought him.
 
Park has been a loyal and reliable player to United but Ferguson’s knack of playing him in the big games means I’m not too bothered about him leaving.

Part of me wouldn’t have minded if Giggs retired had we won the league at the Stadium of Light last year, he has always had bad patches of form during his career but he was poor at the end of last season. He just can’t bow out with City as league champions though, not after everything he has won. To play over 900 games for one club as he’s done is incredible.

Shaun Taylor
I thought Kagawa was a great buy from Dortmund and I think he will settle into the team in time but RVP leaving Arsenal for an arch rival was, erm, interesting... a little like Rooney signing for Liverpool? Not sure that would go down too well... 

Actually, I think Q4 answers some of Q2, a team of under 23's is a great 'plan'.

Shona Whitelaw
I was most excited by the signing of RVP and I am delighted to see him silencing people by banging in a few goals. I was excited by that signing because he is a great player but mostly because my sister is an Arsenal fan and detests MUFC. Nice to be able to put up a few of my own RVP stauses on Facebook!! Mr Alex Ferguson wants the premiership trophy back I reckon.

Rossobianchi
The plan behind it all has been in place for many years now; purchase talented players aged 26 and under when they’re hungry to learn and hungry to win… and if they get shipped on they still have asset value.  (Current squad and the ages they signed: Vidic 24, Ferdinand 23, Rooney 18, Nani 20, Anderson 19, Rafael 18, Valencia 24, Evra 24, Jones 19, Smalling 20, Carrick 25, De Gea 20, Kagawa 23, Hernandez 21, and that’s without the lads who have come through… Evans, Fletcher, Cleverley, Welbeck…)

Clearly there’s been the odd exception to the rule where the manager supplements the teams with a smattering of proven pedigree but that’s essential IMO, and that’s why I was delighted with the Van Persie purchase despite him just turning 29. The nouveau football fan these days gets so embroiled with club finances, net spends, ‘value’ and then pissing ‘resale value’; this was just a refreshing throwback to gooey-eyed old times where you’d just focus on the football side of things. I thought fuck it, he’s 29 which means he’s world class right now. No bedding in. No excuses. We’ve got him for 3 or 4 good years, let’s get to work. New signings of that nature give everyone around the club a boost.

I was also delighted with the Kagawa deal; it’s well documented how impressive he was with Dortmund and he’s already shown great promise. Buttner and Powell could well be rough diamonds, too early to tell with them but it’s been a great start for all four new signings – all scoring on their home debuts.







Q3. As well as the customarily feisty exchanges with Liverpool, you faced Swansea twice in the league last season, and they 'played their game'. How do you think that style will translate to Liverpool Football Club? 

Stan Chow
I think the Swansea way is reminscent to the way Liverpool played in the 80's, pressing quite high up and pass, pass, pass, pass... The way Rodgers wants to play is the way you would expect to Liverpool play anyway. I'm glad we've got you so early in the season, as I think your players are still getting used to the new system... but once the system is ingrained the team, you are going to be very hard to beat.

Anthony Shaw
He is already making decisions and getting rid of players that don’t suit his style; the players available to Liverpool at the moment are never going to change the fortunes of your team drastically straight away though. So patience will be required with new players and the manager, if he isn’t going to be given 3 years you may as well sack him now.

Shaun Taylor
Liverpool results so far this season answer this question, but from what I have seen, Liverpool are improving, but I think this season will be a time of rebuilding the team. Also JFT96 has had an enormous effect on the club.

Shona Whitelaw
I think the style will take time to embed in Liverpool. They need to learn to keep possession and to aim for better quality chances rather than just shooting regularly without scoring often. Gerrard may take bad with this style of play.

Rossobianchi
Swansea were excellent last season; when Rodgers joined Liverpool his philosophy was clear, it was just a case of how quickly he could implement it. He has better players at Anfield but time is required to get that ethos across. You look at Reina (despite his indifferent form), the defence, the midfield and you think, yep, that’s a definite upgrade on what Swansea had at their disposal. But in attack, Swansea’s inferior three last season of Sinclair, Graham and Dyer were greater than the sum of their parts whereas so far this season, Suarez, Borini, Sterling/Downing are struggling for cohesion despite being better footballers individually. There seems to be a bit of ‘square-peg round-hole’ fluency issues up front at the moment; but given time I think it can work.





Q4. In the summer, your manager said, "I could play a Premier Division team of players under 23 tomorrow so the future is absolutely solid." Brendan Rodgers, on the other hand, is gonna have no choice but to do that on occasions. What could Liverpool's manager learn from yours on the subject of developing young players for the first team? 

Stan Chow
I think patience is the key... the current crop of youngsters are great... the Golden generation (Nevilles, Scholes, Giggs, Beckham etc.) were unbelievable, but there wasn't much in-between to be fair.... I guess to an extent these things come in waves... I remember Owen, Gerrard and Carragher all coming through at the same time a few years ago... I'm sure they'll be a small handful coming through soon, as I can't ever imagine Merseyside being short on quality youngsters... Rodgers has got to make sure you get your mitts on them before Everton do I guess. I believe Giggs was a dead-cert to join Man City before Mr Alex Ferguson intervened.

Anthony Shaw
Ferguson can play one or two young players against 12 teams at home in a season and still win. I don’t think Rodgers can do that at the moment because you struggled to break down many teams in the bottom half at home last season. I think fans being patient and getting behind a manager is the key, otherwise he has no chance.

Shaun Taylor
I think its having the ability to instinctively know when a player is ready to 'step' up a level.

Shona Whitelaw
Mr Alex Ferguson is totally committed to bringing young players through the academy and he has signed a few young players in the last couple of years too. I think it is completely the culture of the club, never more famously than the 1999 treble- winning team and what they went on to win for a few seasons after that. I dont think he is capable of changing that belief, it is his style. After a period of transition when a lot of that team left, youngsters are again featuring big at MUFC along with the experienced guys.

Rossobianchi
I’ve already touched on this a bit earlier on but going off what FSG and Ayre have said, Rodgers has plenty of time to get this right. They believe in him and see him as a long-term appointment to transform the club’s fortunes. So, given that lease of freedom added to the fact that Liverpool were stung with the Carroll exit and Dempsey collapse, BR simply has to give youth a chance and it’s been nice to see that happen with Sterling. It could prove to be a blessing in disguise. I keep a close eye on academy football and this could be the perfect opportunity to blood the likes of Suso, Morgan etc in cup competitions and a few league minutes, and see if they sink or swim.






Q5. With Liverpool's owners baulking at a £6m fee for one 29 year old the other week, and your own manager coughing up £24m or thereabouts for another, how rigid would you say your club is about age? 

Stan Chow
I initially thought we were really rigid... I just think the Glazers are pulling one over us... we did try to get rid of Nani in the last Transfer Window, and as I said before, I reckon Rooney's on his way too. They will go a long way in recouping the van Persie purchase.

Anthony Shaw
I never thought United would spend excessively on anyone over 26 after Berbatov. On one forum I even jokingly said I’d drink my own piss if Van Persie signed for us. We have a great balance of ages in pretty much every position except central midfield though, especially with two retirements imminent.

Shaun Taylor
Not very.

Shona Whitelaw
I dont think they are particularly rigid about age. Its about what is needed to fill a gap or add strength and depth to the squad. Mr Alex Ferguson will go for whoever he wants via a transfer or a youngster will get an opportunity to step up. He seems happy to mix experience with inexperience, both with a hunger to win. Personally as long as they can play and contribute then I couldnt care either way.

Rossobianchi
Oops, sort of covered this in an earlier question too. My fault for being a serial waffler. I was surprised the Dempsey deal didn’t go through to be honest, what’s £6m these days? Our club is pretty rigid when it comes to players over the age of 26, I remember reading a stat that said something like in the last 8 years we’ve only paid a transfer fee for three players over the age of 26 – Van Der Sar, Berbatov and Van Persie.





Q6. With both clubs now committed to a progressive game, the midfield 'cogs' are arguably the most important on the pitch. How do you see the midfield tussle going in the game? 

Stan Chow
As far as I can see it's whoever stays on the pitch who'll determine the outcome of the match... Scholes and Gerrard don't have a good history for lasting the 90 minutes. But yes I'm very impressed with Joe Allen, and I can see the Liverpool team 'built' around him eventually... if the rest of the team are on his wavelength we'll struggle.

Anthony Shaw
Whenever we play two central midfielders at Anfield, we get hammered. Hopefully we will have an extra man in there alongside Scholes and Carrick like we did in the cup game. I thought we were comfortable in that until we replaces Hernandez for Scholes. I have always been impressed with Lucas in these matches, he never gives our midfield a minute. Liverpool will miss him if he isn’t fit.

Shaun Taylor
Paul Scholes will dominate.

Shona Whitelaw
I think this tussle has the potential to be very good. Sworn enemies and Liverpool witha point to prove should make it interesting. The pace of the game will hopefully be dictated by the midfield and goalscoring opportunities created. Possession will obviously be the big thing as the team who can hang on to the ball the best SHOULD win this game and it is better to see a flowing, passing game than it is to see a ball punted up the pitch cutting the midfield out altogether.

Rossobianchi
I’ve got to say I’m happy Lucas is out; he’s developed into a superb defensive mid who positions himself well, regains possession and then retains it. Allen has impressed me so far so it will be important to press him high up the pitch and not let him dictate in our half. I sometimes wonder if Gerrard would be better pushed high into the wide three, he doesn’t seem to have the legs of old and is different to Lucas/Allen/Sahin in that he’s more power over finesse. Going off the Sunderland game, maybe he’s destined now for a deeper role, will be interesting to see if he has the discipline. We’ll probably line up with Carrick, Scholes and Kagawa and try to come and play football – something we’ve hardly done at Anfield in recent memory. There’s a good chance we’ll get out-fought; I remember the 2009 game (2-0 Torres/Ngog) where you’d made a sluggish start to the season and we were supposed to come and roll you over yet you raised your game and swatted us away; I fear the same happening on Sunday.







Q7. Both squads boast 'footballing' Spanish keepers who've had their fair share of criticism over the last season or so. Do you covet Pepe Reina? Or are you happy with the keepers at the club? 

Stan Chow
Personally I think Reina is starting to look pretty dodgy (see Arsenal match), he's not Reina of a few years ago, and they say Goalkeepers get better with age! As for De Gea... i'm convinced he'll be Spanish no.1 in no time... I think after his shaky start last season he's more than impressed me.

Anthony Shaw
De Gea receives a lot of criticism but I will always defend him. He is an excellent shot-stopper and has everything a goalie needs except the ability to command his area. It will come and people need to realise it’s unrealistic to buy a goalie from abroad at 19 and expect him to look like Edwin Van Der Sar. If you buy a young keeper, prepare to be patient.

Reina has made some recent errors but he is a solid keeper. I don’t covat him at all; I don’t think anybody should ever play for Liverpool and Manchester United in their career.

Shaun Taylor
Very happy with De Gea, in my opinion, him and Hart are the best in the Premier League.

Shona Whitelaw
Had you asked me this a number of months ago I would have been close to answering that I despaired of our keeper! I watched some parts of our games through my fingers. Now I feel he has settled in and I feel a lot more confident in him and his abilities.

Rossobianchi
I did 12-18 months ago but he’s certainly had a dodgy spell. De Gea will be a top class goalkeeper; I remember Reina having a few gaffes in his early days in England, it’s natural for a foreign keeper to make the odd blunder but De Gea’s overall game is very sound; good with his feet, excellent shot stopper, very agile, but lacks a commanding presence. A few more Hollands Pies down him and he could be at the club for many years to come. Lindegaard is a very able deputy; he may even play on Sunday but long term, DDG is the no.1.






Q8. Going on from the last question, who would you say your most important players will be this season? And are there any whipping boys left? 

Stan Chow
I don't want to put pressure on the young lad, but I reckon Kagawa. He plays in that elusive position between midfield and attack. That position should have been the perfect role for Rooney... but Kagawa plays it better than him. Also should Vidic regain full fitness and form again, he'll make a massive difference... granted he always plays shit against you lot, but then again you don't have Torres anymore. I think one thing that a lot of people have forgotten is that we lost the league on goal difference, and not because City ran away with it!

Anthony Shaw
Despite my reservations about paying 24 Million for a 29-year-old in our situation, Van Persie has been excellent so far. Also Vidic could swing the title in our favour if he regains his form from before his injury, Evans deputised well last year but we would never be conceding 4 goals against Everton with Vidic playing. I have said for 2 years that Evra is our weak link, he doesn’t lack ability but he doesn’t seem interested in tracking back or getting tight on wingers to prevent crosses. The look on his face against Southampton after their second goal was that of a beaten man. The other player I have never really taken to is Ashley Young; I don’t think he offers anything we didn’t have already, before we paid 18 million for him.

Shaun Taylor
Paul Scholes, RVP and De Gea.

Shona Whitelaw
I think that RVP and Rooney will be big for us this season. There is still a fair bit of pressure on RVP and I hope to see him fire in several more goals to lift this.
Whipping boys? Im not sure, im not a fan of finding whipping boys, dont get me wrong I can holler my annoyance like the next person but Im not one for booing your own team. I will leave that to the King of The Hairdrier, in the dressing room

Rossobianchi
We’ve had plenty of whipping boys in recent years but many of them have now been shipped off. The likes of Park, Gibson, Kuzszack, O’Shea, Owen, Obertan were all on the fringes and would lead to forum-wide sighs when selected, sometimes harshly, sometimes justifiably. Berbatov also split opinion, he’ll go down as a failure but came to United, won two league titles, got the Golden Boot, scored some great goals including a hat-trick against yourselves, I loved watching him. Unfortunately he got a bit of a raw deal from Mr Alex Ferguson and was never truly trusted in big games.

Most important players, in my opinion, are Vidic, Carrick and Van Persie. The former is self-explanatory, I’m a huge Carrick fan – his break-up play and intelligent passing between the lines really makes us tick, and Van Persie is just a class act. It’s early days but you already feel like you’re always going to score when he’s on the pitch. I’m not a huge Rooney fan; his lack of professionalism towards his body pisses me right off; pictured smoking and drinking in the off-season and turns up for pre-season overweight, it’s not on. I think he’s peaked now, he’ll never hit the heights he should have. He’s a very good player but has lost that spark that made him unplayable at times. He’s in the second tier of important players alongside the likes of Valencia, Kagawa, Ferdinand.







Q9. Both fan bases are maybe fretting over the loss of 'legends' in the coming seasons - Carragher and Gerrard for us, Scholes and Giggs (and possibly Ferguson) for you. How do you feel both clubs are doing in planning for life without them? 

Stan Chow
To be fair, I'm not too worried with losing Giggs and Scholes... legendary players have come and gone and we've eventually coped. Replacing Ferguson with someone who holds so much respect will be difficult... What Ferguson has created over the last 25 years is an air invincibility... that will all go the minute he steps down, regardless of who we have in the team. Whoever takes over will have to earn the respect that Ferguson has... and that in itself will make MUFC vulnerable.

Anthony Shaw
United have enough wingers now without Giggs, so I don’t think we have much trouble there. Scholes is a different matter though, when we won the Champions League in ’08 I thought Anderson and Hargreaves were going to be great United players for 10 years and everything was looking good. I’ve said it every year since then but we are gonna have to buy a central midfielder soon and hope he is very good.

Carragher is now being used sparingly like Giggs but replacing Gerrard will be a problem like we have with Scholes. I have wondered if Rodgers’ style will suit him though, perhaps that might speed up the process.

Shaun Taylor
Kagawa is the future for the United midfield and Fletcher appears to be fit again; Carrick, Nani and Valencia, all still relatively young.

Shona Whitelaw
I think MUFC will deal just fine, there is a culture of  no- one being bigger than the club and I have no doubt that Mr Alex Ferguson will be putting things into place for when that time comes. The reason I follow MUFC is because as a very young lass I clocked Giggsy in the youths so a handsome young man coupled with my love of footie led me to support them and I still do. He is my fave player over the years and of course Cantona, keane, Beckham et al. I absolutely worshipped Giggsy, obviously as I got older that crush part disappeared. I think he is a magnificent player, pity about his extra-curricular activities... respect went right out window then!!! I was gutted over his behaviour haha.
Rossobianchi
We’re finding it difficult to replace Giggs and Scholes; they always seem to make a difference when they play which is great but also worrying at the same time. I’m not sure if we have like for like replacements coming through… apparently Powell is talked about as an heir to Scholes but that seems a tall order… maybe they’re just destined to be irreplaceable.

Can't even contemplate Ferguson going, he's the only United manager in my lifetime supporting the club (I was 18 months old when he arrived). Will be very, very strange and a monumental challenge for the incumbent but I feel the foundations are there for someone to keep the tradition up. Needs to have huge self-belief and character and command the respect of the players, which means Mourinho for me.

Carragher already seems to be 3rd or 4th choice, he’s a top pro and someone I respect. Players like him are crucial around the squad even if they’re not out there on the pitch every weekend. Gerrard… is he the white elephant in the room? At his age and bearing in mind the new philosophy, does he fit? There’s no doubts he has been a world class player but I think the way LFC are building, they’re now looking at different types of players rather than a direct replacement. Technique and guile over power and tenacity. Maybe that’s a bit premature but I do think his best days are behind him.







Q10. Predictions for the match? 

Stan Chow
0-2 van Persie brace!

Anthony Shaw
2-0 United. We are overdue a performance at Anfield, we haven’t turned up since 2007.

Shaun Taylor
It's going to be very emotional at Anfield on Sunday with the successful JFT96 campaign... no prediction, the result is irrelevant.

Shona Whitelaw
Obviously I want my team to win the match and the league and everythig else but as with Dundee United (my local team, much like yours) I never predict scores... its a kind of superstition I suppose.

Rossobianchi
Got a bad feeling about it, head says 2-1 Liverpool, heart says 1-1.







Q11. Predictions for the season? 

Stan Chow
MUFC Champions, LFC 5th + UEFA cup

Anthony Shaw
City will pip us at the post again, Chelsea will fall away. We will bow out in the quarter final of the Champions League but win the FA Cup.

Shaun Taylor
1. Man Utd 2. Arsenal 3. Chelsea

Shona Whitelaw
See above.

Rossobianchi
If we finish above City we’ll win it. Chelsea will fade, I think. Anything could happen in the CL as we saw with the rentboys last season, I expect semi-finals at least. I’d love to win the FA Cup again but can’t see it.

LFC – I think 5th or 6th this season followed by improvement next season. Not sure you have a big enough squad to mount a cup challenge too. JFT96.






Q12. Anything else you'd like to add ahead of the game?

Stan Chow
There's not much one can say, that hasn't been said already... but after 23 years any sort of apology to the families affected by the tragedy seems rather hollow. At least we now know the truth and the full extent of the cover-up.
Everyone involved in the cover up should be tried for 'perjury' and hung out to dry in all honesty.

I was Old Trafford last Saturday. I sit on the corner of the North Stand next to the Stretford End. It was reported by the media that there were anti-Liverpool chants. There's always anti-Liverpool chants. It's a given at Old Trafford... though some chants are a bit of 'banter', there's some where there's just no need. Mr Ferguson did plead to the fans in the programme notes to show respect. I would say the majority of the fans heeded the words of Mr Ferguson... though some people suggesting that the Stretford Enders should sing 'You'll never walk alone' in a show of unity maybe a push too far. Unfortunately there are a few fucking numbskulls that just can't help themselves. It's unfortunate too that these fucking numbskulls are the loudest. There were words exchanged by some sensible fans to tell them shut up... and for the best part of the game to be fair there wasn't great deal of anti-Liverpool sentiment.  Hopefully the chants will be eradicated... As far as I'm concerned there's no place for it in this age, it's just brainless tribalism. There has been the obscene Arsene Wenger chant that's 'banned' at Old Trafford, and fans have been ejected and barred from the ground for not taking notice. I'm sure some of the chants alluding to Hillsborough and Heysel will be banned too. I'd like to think that Liverpool fans think there's no place for the Munich chant... but there's alway gonna be handful who just can't help themselves. As we all know the animosity between both sets of fans runs deep... I guess it's this animosity that creates the amazing atmosphere when Liverpool and Man Utd, but what I do know is that there has been some bloody funny and witty chants amongst both sets of fans, and hopefully we can at least encourage the wit and try to keep the chants reasonably respectable in the future.

Anthony Shaw/United We Stand
Logistics prevented us from exchanging messages on this one, but the guys at UWS have been a credit to their club it has to be said, as exemplified by Stephen Armstrong's appearance on last Monday's TAW podcast, and this article from Andy Mitten.

http://www.dailypost.co.uk/sport-news/man-utd-fc/2012/09/20/hillsborough-warped-few-don-t-represent-real-man-united-fans-55578-31876946/


Shona Whitelaw
I like the smart/clever chants in footie. I think its part of the tribal thing and its good to support your team and be passionate about it. Maybe I have been lucky, growing up in a town where the 2 city teams are in the same street and the vast majority of the fans indulge in good- humoured banter on the run up to a derby, go to their own parts of the ground and then meet up again after the game. Anyone veering from this tends to be policed by the fans themselves.  I have absolutely no time for nasty, troll- like behaviour. Sectrianism has been a blight on Scottish football for decades and it is quite refreshing for that not to dominate the headlines this season. As a MUFC fan I was bitterly disappointed to hear about the chants at this weekend's game. I prefer that we are hated because ofour success on the field, not because of a nasty minority. Hopefully events of this week will be a watershed in the English game. We know how events can mobilise true fans to pull their weight on social media and get things done. Not for a moment though am I comparing TRFCs cheating to the slaughter that happened at Hillsborough but Im sure you get my drift.

I have Liverpudlian family who are huge Liverpool fans, there but for the grace of god... I will never forget watching that unfold in front of my eyes and it still turns my stomach to this day.


Rossobianchi
I don't remember Hillsborough; I was four-years-old. My family remember it; my mum is originally from Halewood before being adopted at 3 months by a Mancunian family. When her adopted parents passed away some years ago, she delved a little deeper into her biological family and in recent years, have met them a few times and started to treat them as family. One of my 'uncles' was at Hillsborough in the Leppings Lane top tier. I've not spoken to him about it in any detail, all I know is he was present. It puts a different slant on it when you hear things like that; you really begin to relate to it. Even before then, and before the HIP documents were released last week, it was clear that the stadium - specifically that end - was a death trap. No safety certificate, poorly designed, horrendous crush barriers that did more harm than good... it was dated and should never have been selected for a match of that nature. The FA themselves should be facing criminal charges in my opinion, especially bearing in mind other nuggets of information that have come to light such as the Forest fan's letter a year before stating his deep concern over the Leppings Lane end to which he got no reply. Because of this and all the other murky goings on that we knew about before last week, i.e. the 3.15 cut off, the ambulances that couldn't get on the pitch, the fact the gate was opened... etc, I have ALWAYS thought Liverpool fans' fight for justice was warranted. 96 people went to a match and never came home; it could easily have been United fans too who like Liverpool would take huge, raucous away followings around the country.

View Comments | Post Comment

More