“Au revoir Cantona and Man United… come back when you’ve won 18” read the banner at Anfield all those years ago. Back then it appeared laughable that this rejuvenated United team, under the guidance of Alex Ferguson, could even dream of going on to win eighteen titles. But if we were ever to win eighteen, they certainly would have added another ten or twenty league titles to their collection. It was simply a blip for them at the start of the 90s, there was no doubt they would return sooner or later and the gap between the clubs would again grow.
However, last season, there were times when maybe our fans feared the worst. We were so close to equalling their record of eighteen titles but our main rivals for the league were Liverpool themselves, with them leading the table as we had several games in hand after our trip to Japan. Thankfully, Rafael Benitez went in to self-distruct mode, brought a list of ‘facts’ about our manager to a match day press-conference, and Liverpool faded away.
Still, despite Benitez clearly appearing to have a screw loose, the press of this country still predicted Liverpool would win the league this year.
Liverpool and Benitez’s situation has gone from bad to worse this season though, with them selling one of their most important players and replacing him with an injury-prone £17m Italian, with them losing four of their opening nine matches (double the number of defeats they suffered throughout the whole season 08-09), hilariously losing a game because one of their own batted a Liverpool-crested beachball on to the pitch, bizarre tactics (three centre backs? Replacing Benayoun with Voronin?) and exposing themselves more clearly than ever before as a two man team, unable to show any fight or spirit without Gerrard and Torres in the team. They are now on their worst run in 22 years and in desperate need of a result.
It is quite fitting that they then have to take on their biggest rivals to try and make amends. Whilst we’d be foolish to assume they don’t have it in them to raise their game and get a result against us, the mouth-watering prospect of totally humiliating them on Sunday makes it feel almost impossible to wait for the weekend. I can’t wait!
Those lucky bastards who were successful with their ticket application get to show up at Anfield and take the piss until their hearts are content. The beachballs on Liverpool’s website were sold out – christ, for a tenner, they were too good to resist. Make sure they’re well hidden though, given that searches have been promised. But can you imagine Liverpool-crested beachballs in the stands and lining the edge of the pitch? Too good to be true.
Come back when you’ve won 18, titter titter. Well we’re back with 18 and you can say bonjour to Cantona, with the plan to see the away end packed out with United fans wearing Cantona masks. Download your Cantona mask and print it out, as many as you can, to make sure everyone has one.
Then ultimately, after all the songs of “18 times and that’s a fact” and “Rafa’s cracking up” and “Sacked in the morning!”, hopefully our fans will be celebrating another three points. And would it be asking too much for Michael Owen to score the winner…?