Sunday, 15 March 2009
FEELS good doesn't it?
We got four, it could have been six. And yet with 23 minutes gone it all looked to be heading down a familiar road.
What's annoyed me down the years about playing Manchester United away is that so often we have simply failed to turn up.
Too many times we've looked nervy, played within ourselves and let them win all too easily.
It looked all set for same again. With Xabi Alonso ruled out and the under-rated Alvaro Arbeloa getting crocked in the warm-up, the omens didn't look great.
Jamie Carragher was shifted to his hated right back position, off we went - and there were those nerves again.
Pepe Reina looked like he'd borrowed David James' PlayStation when he raced from his line to haul down Park for a cheap penalty.
And when Ronaldo tucked it away the Mancs thought they were in for another easy ride.
So thank God for Fernando Torres - his importance can not be overstated. He is the world's best striker - end of. And the world's best players perform in the world's biggest games.
Torres has got form for it - Chelsea, Madrid, Euro 2008 final, and now Manchester United.
And in hunting down Nemanja Vidic and coolly burying what was a difficult chance, he single-handedly fired a rocket up the arse of every Liverpool player.
Because from then on in we were brilliant. It wasn't quite the polished performance of four days earlier - but it was close.
Like the Madrid game, everyone contributed - it was seven or eights out of ten across the board. And for Torres and Steven Gerrard it was top marks - again.
OK, United will probably still win the title. But to go and humiliate them in their own back yard is priceless - a once in a lifetime result, up there with the 5-0 win over Everton in '83.
Nobody has done that to United for SEVENTEEN YEARS. And it was the Reds' biggest win at Old Trafford since November 1936 when they beat them 5-2.
It was a superb result and one which was rightly celebrated. (Note: Working in Manchester the day after is great hangover cure!)
But beyond the result and the performance we've made it interesting at the top - and we've shattered the myth.
Too many teams go to Old Trafford and lie down. Too much respect is paid, too many managers write off their trip to Manchester and, even more annoyingly, too many talk publicly about not banking on getting anything.
Perhaps now teams will realise that United don't like it up 'em - realise that Ronaldo CAN be stopped, realise that Van der Saar is an average goalkeeper and realise that Vidic and Rio Ferdinand are NOT unbeatable.
The result should also put the issue of Rafa Benitez's future to bed. Should...
I know a lot of Liverpool fans don't like him - I've criticised and questioned him myself. Yes he's made bad buys. Yes he makes odd decisions.
But he has earned himself another crack at the whip.
Liverpool are the top performing team in European competition right now, we've lost twice in the league, we've scored as many goals as Manchester United and now we've thrashed them on their own patch.
Benitez has been in charge nearly five years and he's made progress - the team is in much better shape than what Houllier left it in, we're closer to the title and in that time only teams that have spent more money than Rafa has have won the league - Chelsea and Man United.
So for me it's madness to suggest he should go - why start again with another manager - one who might not cope quite as well with expectations that, in reality, are unrealistic?
With a quality back up for Torres, another winger and a right back, we won't be far off the title next season. We would have been closer this season if Peter Crouch had stuck around - we're that close.
And who knows? While everyone is saying United will still win the title this year, it's far from a formality. Both us and Chelsea are well capable of winning all nine remaining games.
And with United still to face a derby with Man City and an in-form Arsenal on top of their European and FA Cup commitments, there's hope yet.
It's squeaky bum time Fergie...
Posted by robbohuyton at 22:36