Monday, 26 October 2009

Beating the Mancs is a big two fingers to LFC's critics

EVERYONE from the Sky Sports-fuelled idiot to the crap ex-pro has been queuing up to have a pop at Liverpool lately.

So what better way to give them all the bird than by comfortably beating your most hated rivals, the Premier League champions and the media darlings, Manchester United?

Make no mistake, this was deserved. Antonio Valencia's shot that hit the bar aside, the Mancs hardly had a sniff.

And if the excellent Fabio Aurelio had put a bit more beef behind his point-blank range header, the scoreline could have been even more convincing.

So when does crisis not become a crisis?

Well the weird thing for me is, it's never felt like one. War against a tirade of bullshit and fact manipulation? Yes. Crisis? No.

Spurs and Sunderland aside, I think we've shown something in every game. It's just been a case of maintaining that level over 90 minutes.

And a bit of luck with decisions and a fully-fit squad would be nice, too.

Pre-match there was no doom and gloom amongst the supporters on the Spirit of Shankly protest march against bungling LFC co-owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett (more on that soon).

And there was plenty of support on show for Rafa Benitez, a manager supposedly verging on the sack, losing the dressing room and becoming more unpopular with fans by the day.

Climbing the stairs to the Kop, I was confident of a result. It looked like the players were too.

It was a day for answering questions.

Jamie Carragher answered the people who questioned whether his best days had gone - he had a stormer, throwing himself into tackles and blocks Istanbul-style.

Lucas answered the critics who say he can't play in the Premier League - outshining the more experienced, and three times more expensive, Michael Carrick.

And best of all everyone connected to LFC - players, fans, manager - showed they can pull together and get a result when it matters most, but then, did anyone ever question that?

What the performance also answered was the murmurs of Benitez "losing the dressing room".

That wasn't a performance of a team that has no faith in its manager. A home FA Cup defeat to Bristol City, well that is.

That was the match that cost Graeme Souness his job as manager at Anfield. And while the doom-mongers would have you believe it, we are light years away from those dark days.

Players of the Souness era have since admitted he HAD lost the dressing room. He had players in his team who wanted him to go and consequently put in half-hearted performances and made sure it happened.

There was no evidence of that kind of attitude in the Liverpool team against United.

Lucas, Aurelio and Javier Mascherano had all came out in the media in the week in support of the manager.

But actions speak louder than words. And there were no signs of a disaffected team on the pitch - from keeper to striker they all wanted it, summed up by Pepe Reina's pitch-long dash to congratulate David N'Gog after his coolly-taken match clincher.

That outpouring of relief was replicated in the stands where grown men screamed, hugged and punched the air and it was the same in the press box - well for Tony Barrett at least...

But this was a top, top performance. It's hard enough beating the Mancs at the best of times. But when you've lost four on the spin and the world's media is getting ready to label you the worst Reds side in 50 years, it shows some mettle to pull that performance out of the bag.

Not that it will satisfy everyone, of course.

But, as Benjamin Franklin said: "Any fool can criticise, condemn, and complain...and most fools do."