Eyewitness Report: Manchester United 2 - Liverpool 1 (A record gone!)

Posted by Harinder on January 14, 2013, 12:58:01 PM

Between 1997 and 2001 I took a vow of sorts to never go to Old Trafford. The reasoning was simplistic enough - I had no desire to see Manchester United play football. Why would I as a Liverpool fan? Whilst doing my degree at the University of Manchester it was something I'd know I'd have to contend with. I knew a lot of locals, so to speak, and had friends who were born and bred in the area so I knew what I was doing when I selected to go to continue my education in this city. With all of them pretty much being Utd fans (bar one Man City supporter) they all had an unhealthy obsession to see if I'd go or not and be converted to following their Red Devils

It was Madchester era. The Hacienda had closed down though but the Paradise Factory was still going strong. United were going strong too. In the league and in the city. Everywhere you went they were somehow close by. Unlike most students I knew I opted to work whilst in Manchester and used to work nights as a doorman. Back then the two places to be in city centre were Prague V and Berlin which is where I worked with my flatmate and best friend. He was at the front and I had the not so luxurious placing of being inside near the fire exits. It did allow me to put Ryan Giggs' brother head first through them so I can't complain. My flatmate had warned him to leave peacefully... this was the most serene way I could think of. Cue further desire not to go there. Celebrate yer 99 treble elsewhere  ;D

When I left Manchester in 2001 I still didn't want to go to their Theatre of Dreams. I'd seen them at Anfield in 2002 on the day Diego Forlan decided to turn up and it sickened me further. We weren't scintillating then to say the least and the journey home was a long one with a friend who spent most of her day wanting to be elsewhere. I knew the feeling. 10 years on from then I did finally go to Old Trafford. 2 weeks prior we'd beaten them at home in the FA cup 2-1 (thank you Dirk for a kop end winner). For all Fergie's comments of them having outplayed us that day, he forgets that they most certainly didn't. That aside they did the same to us at their ground and the highlight was Suarez's goal. The walk in to the ground that day wasn't filled with any fabulous views. The annoying café come greasy hole on the corner down to the building site opposite and a walk towards the East stands. This lesser developed side is hidden by the masking on the side of the Lowry and Salford Quays. Polished turds and all that I guess  ;D

And back I went today. Unsure if that means I've outstripped the number of attendances by fans of Norwich City, sorry Newton Heath no apologies again Man Utd but it is more than a possibility. I've definitely been to matches at Old Trafford now more times than any of their supporters I know. It was a family affair with my wife, her cousin along with her fiancé. Now the missus has never seen Liverpool lose. She's only seen wins at Anfield and more wins than draws away. Her cousin, this season, has only seen us lose. Great, I thought when she shared that statistic. As we walked in and then up to block STH 229 I recalled my words from the preview thread in the morning that it is about belief. We need to believe.

Well if we needed any indication in the warm up pre-match it came via their mascot. Always a stupid thing to do is to be a mascot, dressed like a dodgy red teddy bear and stretch and point at the United badge in front of travelling fans. You know you are going to be mocked and ridiculed. Yes, you may have the backing of the home fans but even they cannot prevent the humiliation that comes courtesy of Brad Jones nutmegging a ball between your mascot legs... much to everyone's delight  :)
In between all this the team news came out and the surprise for me, if not many, was Allen starting rather than Henderson. I did though think our bench was strong in regards to attacking options of Henderson, Sturridge and a welcome return for Borini.

As the match started it was a very bitty first 15 minutes. Not a lot talk about in respect to chances or passages of play other than the ball flowing more with United than with us. When they did get their first goal it wasn't really out of nothing. They had passed through us in a way Rodgers would have desired for us. United are very strong in the final third of the pitch and as they pushed onto us it was symptomatic of when Rafael scored at Anfield last September. They come in numbers and shift the ball very well. Way too much time on the ball and when the ball came across and it went in it didn't surprise me. We were being made to pay for bad touches and poor passes/control prior. Things United just were not doing or even looked liked doing such was the afforded comfort on the ball. It so easily could have been 2-0 shortly after had Persie's attempt been better. 3-0 if you count Welbeck putting one wide and high from the position he got to. As much as I felt their middle was weak they getting to everything and it was annoying. It's not a brilliant midfield and we are so much better

Half time musings

 *   Their goal came through pressing final 3rd and we've not created a lot.
 *   Been bad re 2nd ball, errors in midfield and bad touches
 *   United have too much time on ball. Why are Duckface and Vidic so at ease in this match?
 *   We are letting them through. Why aren't we exploiting their middle?
 *   Has Webb got much wrong yet? He's got time to change that!
 *   Bryan Robson is a fat bastard

Seeing Sturridge come out and warm up did make me feel better. I didn't think it was Lucas he was going to make way for though. I actually thought it would have been Sterling. In the second half we were so much better. In fact I thought when Suarez put Wisdom through we were looking at 1-1.

Not bloody 2-0 less than 2/3 minutes later  :no

Skrtel's booking against Welbeck from where I was sitting didn't seem that bad. Haven't seen any replays and frankly not about to either. All I saw from a view behind the ball for their goal was red shirts rising and then the ball in the back of the net. Again. They weren't really in control like the first half so was seriously pissed off that we'd conceded. It didn't look to be coming.

Sturridge however continued to shine.  Few minutes after their goal following a passage of play through the middle, he ran on to the ball and slotted home. Following in after a shot. We've missed that. We also missed a pushing, in your face, strong and ballsy player for most of the game so this was a breath of fresh air. Almost everything was going through him for a while and it showed. For the bits where they got through Reina pulled of a great save from Kagawa and really the action just carried on from there. Johnson shot wide. Borini volley just off target (Sturridge clever enough to get on to a sloppy ball from United). Evra gets booked fouling Downing. Webb I'm sure misses a corner and gives a goal kick. Welbeck on his arsh after being tracked by Sturridge.

Last 10 minutes were all us. When battling in the box led to Sturridge putting it over I gasped. It felt like the last chance. We still drove forward. Sturridge again on the end of a chance. The only time that wasn't the case was when van Persie tried to backheel it goalwards.

Final whistle. We probably deserved the draw but it didn't happen. We, as a team, didn't believe in the first half and when we did in the second it was sadly a bit late in the day.

See you next season Old Trafford. Maybe that's long enough for you to stop singing very stupid songs. We've learned not to respond.

Ps - why do a bunch of their fans remind me of the orcs from Lord of the Rings? One to possibly answer in the Round Table  ;D 

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