Liverpool in the Cup. These are those ‘Football Factory’ moments, when you get drawn against a hated rival in the FA Cup, which every fan looks forward to it. I won’t just be Mancs and scousers watching today’s game, but football fans from all over the world, whichever team they support. It’s a massive fixture and it means the world to both sets of fans.
This time last year we were drawn against Leeds, which was probably a bigger occasion, because the scum aren’t in the same league as us so we never get to play them anymore. But Liverpool are a team we hate more and circumstances make this game massive.
Liverpool have just got rid of Hodgson, who dispelled the myth about scousers being great fans who always support the manager. The truth is Liverpool have never had to endure a dreadful manager before now, so they’ve never had reason to show a lack of support. Now the world gets to see they’re just like every other set of fans, who will turn on anyone and support anyone if it means success. This is the same reason they were calling for ‘Yanks Out!’ at the same time they were calling for ‘Yanks In!’ earlier this season.
The dismissal of Hodgson leaves room for the arrival of Kenny Dalglish, the last manager to lead Liverpool to success, and one of the few managers who have denied Sir Alex Ferguson a Premier League title.
It is a sad indication of the current state of Liverpool FC that their fans and players will give more to the club now that Dalglish is in charge. The same fans that were leaving their ground well under full capacity and were booing their players and manager off the pitch, will be out in full force today, ‘singing their hearts out for the lads’. And that effect shouldn’t be underestimated by our club.
Leeds weren’t anything special last season but United just didn’t have enough. It was such a drab performance and it deserved nothing. The manager has said he was left feeling sick by the result but we’ll see how sick he felt that day when we see the line-up he selects. It should be nothing short of our first available XI.
Paul Scholes is still out, but we should see Anderson back in midfield, probably alongside Darren Fletcher. The problem is the only first choice winger available is Nani. Ryan Giggs might still be classed as ‘winger’ in some circles, but he doesn’t have the pace and he was shocking against Stoke. Our lacking width could see us play a packed midfield, or it could see us shove Wayne Rooney out on the left and Nani on the right to support Dimitar Berbatov up front. Your guess is as good as mine.
But whatever the formation, whoever plays, what I’m really looking for is something that was lacking last season against Leeds. So often we see our lads drag themselves over the finishing line, get a result they don’t necessarily deserve, work hard for the points, hassle our opponents, put the effort in for their team mates and share the glory and the recognition. United need to get a result today, by whatever means necessary, and nothing that is going on in the Liverpool camp should stop that.
I believe Hodgson in charge would leave United in a much more favourable position, whilst the return of Dalglish throws a spanner in the works for us. They should be ashamed by this, but chances are the fans and players will put far much more in to the game now that ‘King Kenny’ is in charge. Can you imagine how we would react if on the decline and Eric Cantona was named manager? Dalglish hasn’t been in management for 10 years, has had no time to prepare the players, but this is the fans dream, and if it’s only Gerrard that gives a shit on the pitch, that is enough to cause us some trouble.
But we’re presented with a brilliant opportunity here. This isn’t just about victory over our rivals and this isn’t just knocking Liverpool out of the Cup. Their fans are too giddy right now, like the Geordies after the appointment of Shearer (who lead them to relegation). Our lads have the opportunity to put an end to this resurgence before it’s even begun. Whilst Hodgson was in charge, Liverpool fans were ready to accept defeat. With Dalglish the boss they’re actually expecting a result. Today we’re presented with the opportunity to break their hearts even more than we thought was possible, by knocking them out of the Cup with Kenny Dalglish in charge.
I always feel sick ahead of kick-off against Liverpool, regardless of who is in form or who is the favourite. The same will be true today, with the stakes so much higher. After our 4-1 defeat a couple of seasons ago we got the last laugh by making it 18 in May. I hope we can make it 19 this season without giving them the consolation prize of a victory over us in the FA Cup.
If it was an ideal world, Michael Owen would score a goal today and he’d get a medal in May which saw United become the most successful English team of all time. Neither of these things are essential, but it would help rub salt in the wounds. Just like Arsenal fans wanted Sol Campbell to make the tackle that would deny Tottenham Hotspur a top four finish, and City fans hoped Carlos Tevez would score a goal than denied United another trophy win, it would be nice to see a one time Liverpool hero play his part this season, as he did last season when scoring in the League Cup final.
So come on reds, make amends for last season, and give the fans the FA Cup victory we crave.