1. Another trip to Anfield, another dire Manchester United performance. I’m not entirely sure what it is about that place but we haven’t put in a good performance there for years. Even when Liverpool went down to ten men we didn’t look better than them, it just seemed to even things out. We conceded possession far too easily, there was little fight in the players and we didn’t test the goalie anywhere near enough. That said, we got the three points, so I couldn’t care less. GET IN UNITED!
2. After our fans had been falsely accused of mocking Hillsborough in the week, I was delighted to see the travelling support on their best behaviour today. United players came out in in tracksuits with “96” on the back and Ryan Giggs helped released 96 red balloons to remember the victims of Hillsborough. We applauded the Hillsborough remembrance with the Liverpool fans and sung our United songs when they sang “You’ll Never Walk Alone”. All it would take is for one idiot to make it all kick off, so it was a relief that our fans did the club proud. In contrast, Liverpool fans booed Patrice Evra’s every touch. Why? Because one of their players racially abused him.
3. The biggest talking point of the game was when Jonjo Shelvey was sent off for a challenge on Jonny Evans. Both players went in with studs showing but Shelvey went over the ball and planted his studs in to Evans. It was a similar challenge to the one between Evans and Stuart Holden a couple of seasons ago which resulted in Holden breaking his leg and Evans getting sent off. Some refs would have given a yellow card to Shelvey, others would have given a red card, but he can have few complaints. He got away with a late and high challenge on Rafael da Silva with less than fifteen minutes played which should have been a yellow, so either way, the decision to send Shelvey off was the right one. Still, Carragher didn’t get sent off for slicing Nani’s leg open a couple of years ago so what goes around comes around.
4. Rafael da Silva’s positioning is fairly dreadful at times and this brings deserved criticism. However, going forward, Rafael is really coming in to his own and was rewarded with a brilliant goal today. He ran in to the box, passed it back to Valencia, who lifted it to Kagawa, who chested it down for Rafael to float in to the top corner with his left foot. Brilliant. To come just five minutes after Liverpool took the lead through Steven Gerrard was fantastic. He’s only just turned 22-years-old and has two goals in four games so far this season. Chris Smalling and Phil Jones are still out injured and he Rafael needs to take advantage of that to ensure he stays first choice when they return.
5. The winning goal came from a superb run from Antonio Valencia in to the box. In the post match analysis, Gary Neville said the two defenders that came across should have just taken one for the team and fouled him. They tried to! Once Valencia is off, he’s flying, and his speed and strength meant he could just hurdle their sliding tackles. On first viewing, it looked like a blatant penalty. Looking at the first replay, it looked incredibly soft. It was only after seeing it again, that the two hands in Valencia’s back from Glen Johnson, as well as him clipping his heel, that you could see the right decision had been made. The fact that Johnson didn’t complain at all when it was awarded told you more than any replay could. Having missed all three of our last penalties, you had to wonder whether we could take advantage of Johnson’s gift. Van Persie struck it, Reina went the right way, but the power the Dutchman got behind the shot ensured it went in.
6. Rio Ferdinand was probably our best player today, which came as a surprise when you consider that he looked as though he was going to have to go off early on, hobbling all over the pitch. He was solid at the back though. The worst player is a toss up between Nani and Kagawa. The former was entirely ineffectual whilst the latter just didn’t seem to fancy it. Both are quality players and not many of our lads did themselves justice today, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Fergie tries something new next weekend for Spurs.
7. Paul Scholes, yet again, was the game changer for us today. It’s a lot easier to do that against ten men though I suppose. Before kick-off, I’d assumed Tom Cleverley would be starting along Michael Carrick in midfield, so it was surprising that our youngster didn’t even get a run out. Fergie likes to play our homegrown lads in the big games which obviously should have worked in Cleverley’s favour. I wouldn’t say it worked having Giggs in the centre of the park but it didn’t cost us either. The likes of Cleverley and Anderson must be wondering what the fuck is going on though.
8. We got all the decisions today, Liverpool didn’t get any of them, and that’s the way it goes sometimes. Just off the top of my head I can remember several costly decisions that have gone against us recent years. Carragher should have been sent off for that attack on Nani, he should have been sent off for bringing down Michael Owen when he was through on goal and he should have conceded a penalty against Carrick. It’s shit when they go against you and it’s brilliant when they go for you. We got the rub of the green today and thinking of those whining scousers bleating on about how they were robbed today makes the three points all the sweeter for me. We papered over the cracks today and struggled to keep up with the ten men of Liverpool, but getting a win at Anfield is one of the best results of the season, and honestly, I couldn’t care less how we got it. COME on United!