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Liverpool prey on Man Utd weakness

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Phil McNulty | 21:10 UK time, Sunday, 6 March 2011

Anfield

Manchester United left Anfield surrounded by a wall of silence considerably more resolute and unified than the flimsy barricade so easily dismantled by Liverpool on an abject afternoon for Sir Alex Ferguson.

Perhaps Ferguson and United's chastened players were hoping the harrowing 90 minutes they endured at an exultant Anfield, especially at the flying footwear of Liverpool's new attacking idol Luis Suarez, was merely a bad dream.

No such luck for the silent knight. The black-out could just as easily have been attributed to acute embarrassment because the brutal reality and the real story was a defeat deservedly inflicted by a Liverpool team revived under Kenny Dalglish and galvanised by the sight of a United team that looked jaded and lacked - a factor of great significance - the absent Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic.

United are still favourites to claim the 19th title that will put them out on their own ahead of Liverpool, but they may need to rely on the generosity and failings of their rivals unless their form improves.

The sullen mood of Ferguson and his players was in sharp contrast to the smiles of Dalglish and the celebrations sweeping around Anfield at the final whistle as Liverpool put their recovery back on track after the loss at West Ham United.

Dalglish turned 60 on Friday, a landmark acknowledged in song by the Kop, but the gift he most wanted is to be back in charge at Liverpool - a pleasure encapsulated with the words: "Every day is my birthday when I go into Melwood."

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish and Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson

Dalglish's Liverpool proved too strong for Ferguson's Manchester United at Anfield

And what joy Dalglish and his team gave Anfield by inflicting pain on United while revelling in the pleasure of the deeds of £23m Uruguayan Suarez and a hat-trick from Dirk Kuyt, whose finishes may well have covered the shortest aggregate yardage of any treble in the game's history.

Kuyt covered his usual distance to torment United's uncertain rearguard but even this most modest of players will happily bow to the prominence of Suarez, whose twisting penalty box slalom past Rafael, Wes Brown and Michael Carrick to set up his first goal was worthy of Dalglish in his pomp. It was an electrifying, decisive moment.

Suarez never wasted a moment standing still. He is constantly on the move, looking to make mischief, preying on defenders' nerves. He even has an uncanny knack of sailing past opponents just at the point when he looks to be falling over.

Kuyt's success after reverting back to his former role of striker gives Dalglish nice selection complications, especially with Liverpool's comfortable margin of supremacy allowing him the luxury of giving £35m Andy Carroll a brief debut outing as substitute.

Nani set up Kuyt's second with a misdirected header only he can fully explain while United's desperate display was summed up in the moment the normally reliable Edwin van der Sar spilled Suarez's free-kick into Kuyt's path for his third after 65 minutes.

Javier Hernandez's stoppage-time strike cannot be dignified with the description of a consolation goal. There was not a jot of consolation here for United, who have suffered two consecutive losses and have looked out of gas after a vibrant first 45 minutes at Chelsea.

Sadly the game did not come without its dark side, played out in the moments before half-time when Nani's misery was compounded by an horrific challenge by Jamie Carragher that saw him stretchered off.

The tackle was followed by scenes of confrontation involving players from both sides, repeated seconds later when Rafael flew into Lucas having been clipped by Maxi Rodriguez.

Referee Phil Dowd spared Carragher from what should have been the straightest of straight red cards, then perhaps felt obliged to show similar excessive leniency to Rafael when he should also have gone.

Officials sometimes win misplaced praise for simply keeping 22 players on the pitch. Carragher and Rafael deserved to go and neither manager would have had a complaint had they done so.

Liverpool's win hardly shapes a season but it is a marker for the future, such was the emphatic nature of the triumph. Sharper, more powerful, more mobile, more pacey from first to last on this day at least, it was another demonstration of why Dalglish's permanent appointment must now be little more than a formality.

Liverpool forward Dirk Kuyt

Kuyt scored his first hat-trick for Liverpool - photo: Getty.

Anfield is a different environment from the dismal arena it was under Roy Hodgson. Optimism has returned and the mere sight of Dalglish in the dug-out gives comfort to supporters disillusioned not so long ago.

United's performance must be accompanied by the mitigating circumstances that saw them stripped of Ferdinand and Vidic, but this stale affair gave off the air of a team that must now be subjected to rebuilding irrespective of what successes may or may not come this season.

Even if United win the Premier League and claim other silverware, and history tells us this must never be discounted, it is not a side to compare with Ferguson's teams of the past in a season that can hardly be placed in a golden era for domestic football. This is a side producing a growing body of evidence, of which this defeat was the latest example, that it is reaching the end of the line in its current form.

Chris Smalling remains an impressive work in progress, but some harsh lessons came his way courtesy of the movement and work-rate of Suarez and Kuyt while Brown gave an object lesson in why Ferguson has turned a blind eye to him for much of this season.

Paul Scholes struggled to make an impact in his second high-octane game inside a week and received little help from Carrick. Carrick's contract extension has been greeted with a wave of indifference from United's fans and his performances have been at a level that would have seen him eased towards Old Trafford's exit in the not-so-distant past as opposed to being rewarded with a long-term deal.

Defeat will have been even more galling for Ferguson because Liverpool themselves are entering a period of heavy transition when they will reconstruct a squad that is still top heavy with players ill-equipped to meet the standards Dalglish will eventually demand.

Ferguson was linked with £100m of transfer business on the morning of this defeat, no doubt determined to fulfil the promise he has made to himself to leave United in rude health when he departs and also promises made to Wayne Rooney - utterly anonymous at Anfield - about squad strengthening after he threatened to leave earlier this season.

Names like Ashley Young, Jack Rodwell and Jordan Henderson may provide pace and fresh legs but Ferguson must also find a central midfielder of genuine world-class because inspiration in that area has been lacking for too long this season.

United's instinctive resilience and winning mentality, a quality that sets them apart and has sustained them for so long despite indifferent form this season, puts them in pole position to win the title but once this campaign reaches its conclusion Ferguson must reach for the Glazers' chequebook.

Liverpool will enter a new era of their own this summer when John W. Henry and the Fenway Sports Group put their stamp on the club. And it is a new era that will surely be led by Dalglish.


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Comments

Page 1 of 7

  • Comment number 1.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 2.

    We have known this since we sold Ronaldo, our midfield is not good enough to compete against the real top teams.

  • Comment number 3.

    Seems like McNulty is backing Liverpool for the long term.

    Sensible choice.

    Utd are winding down and today's 'performance', on the back of extending the contracts of superstars Carrick and Fletcher, underlines the fact.

    The future is Red.

    Proper Red.

  • Comment number 4.

    glad there's a mention here for carrick. he's having a woeful season, confounded in the last three important games. there's no point in him being on the pitch, can't pick a pass, doesn't make tackles, he doesn't even want the ball which was evident this afternoon. is it misplaced trust from ferguson? surely he can see what the rest of us see. was darren fletcher carrying a niggle, he's a far more effective player for the team, an infinitely better player, and it was his clever forward pass that led to united's 'consolation' (by the way, never heard such silence at a goal in all my time watching the premier league, much less liverpool vs united!)

    united were dreadful and their midfield this season is as bad as i have ever seen it. full credit to liverpool though, really struck me how many errors they forced from united's defenders (who admittedly capitulated when under a little bit of pressure)

    a fully accurate reading of this match and its effect, i enjoyed reading it.

  • Comment number 5.

    At least Fergie didn't spit the dummy out, though.

    Wait a minute.....

  • Comment number 6.

    Manchester United have rode their luck this season and sit on top of a poor Premier League. Having lost 3 of there last 5 PL games, I believe their luck could be running out.

    Liverpool players wanted the win much more than the Utd players did, and this time there is absolutely nobody to blame other than themselves. THANK GOD!

    In hindsight, Carragher deserved a red and so did Raphael. I for one am glad that neither did though. The Ref had a good game IMO and was trying to be fair to both teams in a very heated environment.

    Please don't let this blog turn into yet another Referee debate, because like Kenny said after the game, there has been too much rubbish written about Refs lately and it's about time we started talking about football.

    I'm interested to see the starting lineups for the Utd v Arsenal FA cup game next week.

  • Comment number 7.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 8.

    for a liverpool-united match that finished 3-1 it was surprisingly short on quality and entertainment. the lack in quality was evident in both teams, the magical suarez aside. the winner of the premier league this season will be the worst side we've seen win it.

    fergie thinks english football is ready to take back its crown as number 1 in europe/champions' league (was it ever?) - certainly not on this evidence! barcelona would have had a field day today even though they're in comparatively poor form lately, dortmund would certainly have tonked united as would both milans and madrids have.

  • Comment number 9.

    Just have to say that the silence (or sulk) by the MU management is not becoming a club nor staff of that stature or experience.

    Is funny, though.

    As an Arsenal fan, I suspect Man Utd will squeeze through to the title - just.

    But I wonder if a number of Utd fans - and Fergie himself? - are having a nightmare about, as Fergie is on the wind-down (if not this year, then surely next) a potentially (an awful lot of work to to get close) reinvigorated Liverpool side - led by King Kenny, almost 10 years younger than Fergie - being on the up as they are about to slide down a bit? Timing is everything, and maybe - just maybe - United's two decades at the top is about to come to an end?

  • Comment number 10.

    I enjoy this type of game, where the result is of no fault of the officials or any other outside variable. Two teams came to Anfield to play and, simply put, the better team won. Coming from an Arsenal fan, it was a fantastic game to watch in the first half, both teams were playing very well. But than it seems after Suarez's moment of magic, Man Utd just fell to pieces.

    They attacked, but to me it seemed half-heartedly. Berbatov looked hopeless, Giggs looked tired, and Rooney look uninspired, but still looked like Man Utd's best attacking player, ironically. Hernandez was almost anonymous, save his late header. Anyway I hope Arsenal take advantage of this, and I hope this revitalizes Liverpool into their older and winning, form.

  • Comment number 11.

    the only time someones can get away with a tackle that leaves a gash on a players leg inches long is against man utd, ridiculous!! man uts are lacking a quality attacking midfielder and have been for a few years, we have been missing valencia who is a top class player for us, money needs to be spent and stop buying defensive midfielders and go for flair and excitement!

  • Comment number 12.

    Expect Utd fans to swarm on here and say:

    1. You've a Liverpool supporter and you've been waiting for Utd to lose to gloat
    2. We don't need to rebuild, we just had an off-day
    3. The ref was against us, we need better officiating
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    It was a terrible tackle by Carragher but if Nani was sooo injured how'd he jump up and try to fight with Carragher and the ref?

  • Comment number 13.

    completely agree with your point on needing a genuine world-class midfielder, the creativity in the middle of the park is woeful and even worse as you have mentioned, carrick has somehow been offered a new contract, i cannot think of a single performance this season or the last one that has merited that. Raul merielles was running past our midfield throughout the entire match making dangerous runs and supporting the striker. Daglish tactics were spot on and instead of relying on crossing, something that the premiership seemed to be obssessed with he had unpredictability in his side with Suarez dropping deep or going wide, it wasnt so long ago that Man utd also could interchange with three strikers and two wingers who could constantly change their position to confuse the defence. This season our play has been so static and rigid, we seemed to have a midfield four which make little to no movement and scholes even though he is brilliant can hardly be asked to run up and down the pitch for 90 mins. Rooney was again completely anonymous, but worse still he seems to be getting a regualar start in the first team, how has he merited this? apart from the "two goals in his last three games" under than that contribution (one which came in a losing cause) his performances have been awful this season and he actually looked a better player on the left of the midfield, at least there he actually touched the ball a few times. What has happened to the greatest talent this country has seen since Gazza,he looks a shadow of the player he was last season and seems to have moments of madness this season showing the immaturity he has when he first came to the club. The only reason commentators and journalists alike are saying this is not a vintage man utd team is for one reason, our midfield in comparison to the fanatastic midfielders we have had in the past are nowhere near the required standard. Apart from nani who has still been inconsistent this season i cannot name any other midfielder that has impressed on a weekly basis, the fact that giggs and scholes remain two of our best players puts the rest of the midfield to shame. The tackles you mentioned were deserving of a red but rafael simply reacted to an awful rake of his legs by maxi rodriguez, a challenge you have completely disregarged this was deserving of a red and was completely unwarranted. I really do hope the rumours of all those players coming to United to be true. In particular the amount of young british players we are linked with as it is always good to have a mixture of home-grown and foreign talent, something that man utd have always had and other big teams such as chelsea and particularly arsenal have never had. Unfortuantely I really do doubt the Glazer will spend a huge amount of money, particularly the sort you need for the likes of bale whom is probably worth around 35m. Instead we will just have to rely on finding another jem like we did with hernandez but those buys dont come around that often.

  • Comment number 14.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 15.

    Just have to agree with post #8

    The team with the most points will win the league this year - but more than ever, that will not equate to being the best team - perhaps just being the least mediocre.

    And giving how well we've done in Europe this season, maybe the overall quality of football the world over is on the decline? Remember the World Cup - not exactly a feast of great football all the way through, was it?

    Just a thought . . .

  • Comment number 16.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 17.

    The future is looking bright for liverpool indeed and the departures of masc and torres are looking short sighted to say the least. Is it really that much of a burden to miss out on champions league for one season?
    Very pleased for kuyt, one of the most underrated PL players IMO, too often the butt of jokes unfairly.
    Have to say how impressive suarez was, that mazy run floating past defenders reminded me of henry in the champions league final v barca.
    Any ideas on what players liverpool need in the summer? got a feeling defenders are necessary with carra getting on but i've always been impressed with agger and skrtel, with the former being fantastic on the ball.
    Long live king kenny!

  • Comment number 18.

    Ferguson here made the same mistakes that he made last season in United's home game with Chelsea in that he insisted on playing the "old guard", who frankly, don't have the legs or the desire for these types of clashes, and why he left Fletcher on the bench in favor of Carrick is quite beyond me.

    I don't subscribe to the comment that United are a spent force without major investment. You rightly stated that Smalling has great potential, but there are others too. Rafael is maturing nicely at right back, and Anderson is ten times the player he was last year. When Park and Valencia get back from injury, and with Vidic returning, United have still got youthful power, just maybe not in the abundance they had before.

    http://www.soccerlimeyinamerica.com/?p=2074

    http://www.soccerlimeyinamerica.com/?p=855

    On the subject of Rooney, I have advocated now for over a year that he is wasted as a striker, especially with Hernandez proving his worth this season. United need a replacement for Scholes and Rooney is his natural successor. He has all of his qualities with a little more strength, and positioned behind Hernandez and Berbatov, United would have a potent force up front.

    But, what do I know.

  • Comment number 19.

    Dalglish, what an absolute legend you are! What an incredible turn-around from the mess that Benitz created and Hodgson added to!

    Ferguson and his media silence is absolutely hilarious. No one has said a word to wind him up & he's gone into a Keegan/Benitez melt down all on his own! lol

    I've never seen him looking like he's totally lost the plot before, and he did it to himself! I reckon he's been trying his Jedi mind tricks in the mirror!

    Either way it's great comedy. Hopefully they'll continue to let the others back into it and miss out on the league.

    And Phil, was the point of this piece to point out the need for a Utd rebuild? Good job, that's only what everyone in the country has been saying since the end of last season!!! lol

  • Comment number 20.

    #15 @Roadblaster

    fair point for sure but i wouldn't judge 'how well we've done in europe this season' until the champions' league last four - in which i think we'll be lucky to have one team.

    the quality's there - it's just not in the premiership as much as it was 4 or 5 years ago

  • Comment number 21.

    I saw Lee dixon saying the ref had a good game.. how is that possible when he bottled the two biggest decisions? Carragher should have walked for his cowardly tackle. Rafael should have went also.. but he was provoked by Maxi after being raked. What example does it set when the "elite" players can get away with murder?

    United's midfield has been in decline since we lost Hargreaves.. Scholes doesn't have much gas left in the tank.. Carrick is hapless.. Anderson and Fletcher have energy.. but not much else.

    I think some astute business in the summer is essential ofr the future of United. I think I speak for all non dilusional fans when I say O'shea, Obertan, Bebe and Carrick are nowhere nearly good enough for a club of the sture of Man United.

  • Comment number 22.

    i beleiee that smalling will be taking rios place soon as rio cant seem to stave off injury for more than a few weeks, man utd need an inspirational midfielder who will create chances and be the scholes of old, someone like van der vaart who creates and scores, four of man utds were out today in park vidic rio and anderson, we need a few signings but i dont believe we rely on the old guard

  • Comment number 23.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 24.

    7: I don't recall them cheating at any opportunity, but I will concede they were bashed about the park.

    12: My personal theory is adrenaline, he has gone to show the ref exactly what has happened and then suddenly realised that he can't stand up. The theatrics afterwards were unforgivable though.

    This was probably the worst performance I have ever seen from a United side. Scholes looked past it. Carrick is awful. I was actually dismayed to see that he had signed a new contract. The sooner he leaves the club the better. The front two were starved of service due to the midfield inadequacies and, due to those same inadequacies, the defence was left exposed. I think overall Evra/Brown/Smalling had decent-ish games, but they were let down by the midfield who offered no protection.

    My friend and I were counting. Carrick made ONE successful forward pass in the entire game. ONE! He gave it away at least ten times, normally right in front of the defence and then he failed to pick up his man.

    Carragher and Rafael should have gone, although I am of the opinion that the ref did the right thing on Rafael's challenge. It would have been a mighty injustice for Rafael to be sent off after Carragher had been allowed to remain on the pitch.

    Diabolical performance from a ageing and deteriorating side.

    I'm an United fan btw.

  • Comment number 25.

    13. the tackle by maxi wasn't great but A) he pulled out after it was clear the ball had gone and B) it was the tiniest of touches, rafael didn't loose balance or stride or in fact anything apart from his head.
    exaggeration from yourself there, clinging to anything to excuse your team's shocking performance.
    Atleast the man utd fans' in the pub I was in were ironically shouting penalty after it, where as I suspect you thought it deserved one.

  • Comment number 26.

    Alex Ferguson's (and now anyone at all from Man Utd) sulking and refusal to speak to any of the media this time is yet another two fingers up to the Premier League and the FA. It is another rule he flagrantly breaks and it is quite clear that fines and touchline bans are not the slightest of deterrents to them.

    The only penalty which will bring him back into line (with the rules all the other mere 'Muggle' manager's in the Premier League have to follow) is a points deduction.

    When will one of the self-appointed execs in these organisations have the balls to stand up to him. Not soon enough is the answer.

  • Comment number 27.

    #26 fergie's not exactly being given special treatment for the fa by not attending interviews. he gets fined every time he doesn't speak to the bbc just as every manager would. and at least he's sticking up for himself over it - we're still waiting for holloway's promised resignation after getting hit with a fine for the 'weakened' team. there's still no excuse not talking to the press just because you've lots. he is a petulent fellow at times to put it mildly, this has certainly been magnified this week, what with his hypocrisy around the rooney incident

  • Comment number 28.

    #@lewis standing
    Wasnt making excuses for man utd woeful performance, and if you read everything i wrote i actually praised Daglish tactics in the game liverpool fully deserved the win, was simply mentioning the point that Phil Mcnulty never even acknowleged the maxi challenge

  • Comment number 29.

    I ama United fan.

    This has been coming for at least two years and we have been lucky to stay top this season. Probably the worst premiership in terms of teams at the top since inception and one of the best for teams at the bottom.

    Why did Carrick get a new contract, he has been woeful for a couple of seasons, a bad decision.

    Neither am I convinced by Rafael as a defender and I am afraid the midfield is weak in creativity. Fletcher/Anderson do a job in harrying and protecting the defence but they are not great ball players and neither can shoot for toffee.

    Giggs and Scholes have been fantastic in their time but that time is rapidly passing.

    Carrick should be shipped out and we need two stirring ball playing midfielders and a dependable right back.

    If United do not invest in a proper midfield, we will struggle to stay in the top 4 next season.

  • Comment number 30.

    I've been told the Carrick contract is a "selling" contract. Three years is it? Players value tends to drop with less than 2 years left on contract, so it still wouldn't be surprising to see him leave. Just a theory.

  • Comment number 31.

    @footballismylife fair point, however he does mention it, perhaps not giving it any significance though.

  • Comment number 32.

    And for any of you Utd fans trying to put any sort of blame on the Ref today as usual. Just remember what Rio tweeted after the game.

    "Bad result today, no excuses"

    And for that, I take my hat off to him. Players, Managers and Fans who can own up and admit defeat are gentlemen. Others try and blame someone else or just refuse to talk about it.

    I remember Mick McCarthy with Sunderland in 2006. They got 15 pts in the whole PL season and he still had the time to talk to the press after every game, gentleman. #realmen

  • Comment number 33.

    @ 10. Selecao

    Just why Arsenal doesn't take an advantage of United's slips? Are you guys going to spinelessly give the Title away to ManU? Come on, have some self respect finally! GO GET THE TITLE THIS SEASON! Because you are not going to get it next season.

    That being said, congrats to all fellow Reds, great game, great effort from every player, great spirit, long life the King! Hope we build on that and do not waste points in the following fixtures.

  • Comment number 34.

    #19

    Mess that Benitez created?

    --------------------------------------------------------------------

    Please go and learn something about the club you support. Clueless.

  • Comment number 35.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 36.

    Liverpool didn't play particularly well today yet they were by far the better team. Suarez and Meireles were impressive throughout.
    I wont argue that United lack talent and they have sorely missed Ronaldo and Tevez since they left. Hargreaves was meant to be the much belated replacement for Keane but injuries have prevented that. I honestly can't see SAF buying anybody in the 'world class midfielder' bracket even if there is money to spend, those fans dreaming of Schweinsteiger, Modric, Pastore or De Rossi are doing just that, dreaming.
    Rebuilding is necessary, and possible, the likes of Nuri Sahin and Moussa Sissoko would be welcome additions alongside a Left Winger and Goal Keeper and another Centre Back.
    It was not the lack of quality that cost United today though, it was tactical naivity once again by SAF. I for one am fed up of him stubbornly believing that Carrick and Scholes will run the game against Liverpool, it never works and by the time a change is made it is usually too late. Once again the defence was too static and failed to pick up off the ball runs, this has become something of an issue since the turn of the year and I'm surprised so little has been said about it.
    Anyway, I do not wish to discredit Liverpool, a thoroughly deserved win, and I couldve had few complaints if they had scored more.

  • Comment number 37.

    I think yellow cards were fine for most of the players who got them. A touch harsh for Skrtel perhaps. What interests me is what news will come about Nani's injury. No-one would be so quick to condemn JC if Nani hadn't been stretchered off, and stranger still is that he was running around the ref complaining before deciding to mysteriously collapse when Steven Gerrard walked towards him with a hand outstretched.
    At the time I thought Nani should have seen red for an obvious dive. If he plays the next game I will stand by that opinion. It was certainly a very delayed reaction. An even longer delay than the one between Berbatov making contact with a Agger and taking a blatant dive at OT a few weeks back.

    It is about time the FA clamped down on diving based on post match video evidence.

  • Comment number 38.

    best bit was the Kop singing happy birthday to King Kenny!!!
    Delighted for Kuyt, amount of work he puts in is rarely acknowledged...Suarez is already proving he is going to be a real quality player for years to come, all in all a great day YNWA

  • Comment number 39.

    #20

    Yup, totally fair comment re Europe

    #26

    Interesting idea re points deductions for media no-shows, but here's a further point for disciplinary (sic) issues . . .

    Make points deductions the only currency for all offenses - berating refs, cheating, players out of control. You'd probably end up with a league winning team on 20 points, but hey . . .

  • Comment number 40.

    #35 Are you Alex Ferguson?

  • Comment number 41.

    Phil, you were doing well until this "Liverpool's win hardly shapes a season but it is a marker for the future, such was the emphatic nature of the triumph."
    Just a very good game by Liverpool today, and Not so good for Man United. Couple of goal line clearances by Pool, Berb hitting the woodwork,. Could been a different outcome if any of them had gone in. I think game was over once one of the Man United player gifted the second goal. Liverpool played with inspiration and perspiration, as they did last year under Banitez. Much like today, they had come off a bad loss to mid table team (West Ham this year, Sunderland last year. Next week at Sunderland it will be business as usual. Too early to jump on Pool's bandwagon,; and this from Arsenal fan who was rooting for Liverpool.


  • Comment number 42.

    you only speak when you're winning. speak when you winning. you only speak when you're winning.
    repeat ad nauseam

  • Comment number 43.

    @ 24. At 00:37am on 07 Mar 2011, Albaholly wrote:
    7: I don't recall them cheating at any opportunity, but I will concede they were bashed about the park
    -----

    What was about the Berbatov's implication at Raul Meireles's 'handball'? And Evra implying that Saurez dived? That was cheating.

    And no one is arguing, even Carragher himself, that he was lucky not to see the red. Same goes for Rafael da Silva too. Carra apologised though, unlike Rooney and Sir Alex "there was nothing in it" Ferguson.

  • Comment number 44.

    I do wonder if Nani's shin will be on all the back pages in the morning. It wouldn't surprise me.

    Can anyone remember any other PL manager ever refusing to speak to the press?

    Fergie has done it loads over the years and I can't remember any other managers doing it.

  • Comment number 45.

    some good points there Phil although i have to disagree when you say Rafael was 'clipped by Maxi Rodriguez', it was an awful challenge which seems to have gone unnoticed because of Rafaels following lunge.
    Also think your being overly harsh on the much maligned Wes Brown who didn't do all that much wrong, he and Smalling had no protection from the midfield which meant they were exposed.
    I've defended Carrick for a long time but its difficult to do that now, he's never been the same since the European cup final against Barca, he has all the ability but theres something missing mentally in his game, call it the old cliche 'taking the game by the scruff of the neck' with Scholes not able to do the box to box game of yesteryear your looking for something more from Carrick but its never quite there, very frustrating.
    As a United fan, today was a horrible experience (any defeat against that lot from over the east lancs road is!)but if we can somehow scrape our way towards number 19 it will taste all the sweeter after the goading today. Think Arsenal are slight favourites now due to an easier run in and Uniteds away form, but the main thing from today which seems to have gone unnoticed is that this brings Chelsea right back in it providing they win they're games in hand, going to be interesting though.

  • Comment number 46.

    #42 Are you singing that to Alex Ferguson?

  • Comment number 47.

    37
    According to SSN, Nani has a deep gash on his leg (granted I did not see any evidence of this during the match). Yet to say that Carragher made a legitimate challenge is a disgrace. I believe that there was no intent to injure Nani from Carragher but that challenge could quite easily have had the same reprecussions as the Shawcross-Ramsey and Taylor-Eduardo incidents. It was poorly timed, high and dangerous.
    As for the 'blatant dive' I thought so at first but if you watch the replay Nani is already on the way back down holding his leg before Gerrard touches him. I understand the reaction of Liverpool fans to his injury after his embarrassing antics in the FA cup game at Old Trafford but, I will say again, it was a bad, bad challenge and deserved a straight red card. As did Rafael's challenge, it was silly and dangerous and you simply cannot take the law into your own hands in the way that he did.

  • Comment number 48.

    as i said, when the idiots are finished with their standard regurgitated internet rubbish carragher's career threatening challenge will still not have been penalised. i thought richards' launch on cleverley was bad yesterday, with the player having no opportunity to ride it, but that one on nani was horrendous. people comparing it with the rafael one can't be taken seriously even if they're trying to be.

  • Comment number 49.

    #39 A punishment that is not actually punishment means the culprit can do whatever he likes without relevant consequence. Fines and touchline bans for Alex Ferguson are like me breaking some rule and being fined £2 and being made to work from home for a day. No deterrent whatsoever.

    Points deductions are a last resort only for repeat offenders - SAF is a repeat offender, what else can they do to make him follow the rules everyone else has to?

  • Comment number 50.

    #john 85
    Dunno how you managed to defend carrick for so long, when he first signed for man utd i was genuinely excited and also the fact he was english i thought he may become a future international regular, however, apart from one fantastic game in which we beat roma 7-1 (the carrick we saw at tottenham) he has been terrible, and his static and slow defending against ivica olic in the quarter final of the champions league last season was unforgivable, a goal which arguably cost us that tie. Also as for brown i agree with mcnulty's assessment, he looks slow and clumsy similar to the way o'shea plays in every game. Again both look like promising talents when they first came to the club.

  • Comment number 51.

    Man Utd have been grinding out results for most of the season without playing particularly good football. All credit to them for work rate, team spirit, will to win but many other teams have out spent them this season and on paper they don't look any better than any of the other top six teams. In my opinion several other teams have overtaken them (Man City, Spurs and Liverpool). Not helped by recent transfer gambles and youth development not paying off - instead of having a group of emerging players ready and waiting Fergie has a number of players not good enough for Man Utd that he has to ship out.

  • Comment number 52.

    Anyway.... this becomes rather boring. Yes, bad tackle. Yes, red card would have been deserved, but what's the point in repeating it over and over, even if everyone agrees?

    The main point is, ManUtd cannot lose with grace. The majority of the fans repeating the comic behaviour of their boss, blame everyone and everything for their misfortunes. They don't tend to get into such arguments when the matches are being won with the obvious help of the referee (H. Webb, anyone?)
    The rest are just trying to play it cool, saying something like 'ah, whatever, we are going to get the title in May anyway'. Well, let me remind you, the Chelsea fans thought so too back in October.

  • Comment number 53.

    All well and good to everybody suggesting points deductions for SAF ignoring the media, fair enough he is rule breaking but it is a pathetic rule devised by the FA and the Premier League so they can get more money for the TV rights. Furthermore where do you draw the line? Lee Bowyer picked up his 100th Premier League yellow card on Saturday, that is also persistent rule breaking so should we deduct points from Birmingham and all of his previous clubs too? How about Mr Carroll or Mr Barton who have criminal records? Surely an assault conviction is more deserving of a points deduction than ignoring the media, particularly if we are going to start punishing clubs for the off-field actions of their employees! Of course not, it is a silly statement to make.

  • Comment number 54.

    United and Chelsea have won the past six EPL titles between them. If any season was there for the taking it's this one. But my Arsenal team are too weak in goal and the back line. And the other Manchester team have too many egos, and not enough team spirit, to mount a legitimate title challenge.

    But United's problems are mounting. Will have to replace Van de Saar, and probably Ferdinand as well. Still looking for a full-time replacements for the aging Giggs and Scholes. Also, have to be some concern about Rooney's form. It's been nearly a year since he looked the part of the best English player of his generation.

    Ferguson has to be given the benefit of the doubt. He usually gets it right about players. And the new owners will want to cement their regime by opening up their checkbook.

  • Comment number 55.

    Wolves has shown other teams the way to win agaisnt United - put a lot of energy in the middle channel of the field and beat them. Chelsea was successful with this approach during the second half and now Liverpool too. Arsenal may be the next to win this way agaist United.

  • Comment number 56.

    The writer mentions Manchester United's instinctive resilience and winning mentality. They've lost three from five. If they have these qualities, what are they saving them for? They're in first courtesy of their home form and Arsenal's. If the latter were on a par with United's, the Manchester side would be looking up and not possibly next to them at their rivals.

    They and Arsenal are what their records say they are, little different, possibly level on points and with the same defensive record in the league. Hard to see how these last five matches can make MUFC favorites for anything.

  • Comment number 57.

    The Carragher tackle was a bad one, he's high and late and should have seen red, but it was not malicious. He's come out and apologised for it so give the guy a break. Unforunate things like this happen in football, its a quick game and tackles get mistimes. Rafael's tackle is just as bad. If that had hit a standing leg it would have snapped it. Both should have gone, but other than that, thought Dowd handled things well. At least he was fair to both teams, sure Fergie would have been happy about that.

    Great performance by Liverpool, not sure if it was made look better by United being so abject, but the running was excellent. Kuyt may have had the easiest hat-trick in EPL history but you've got to be in the right place at the right time and his positioning was good. Particularly for the thrid goal, no united defender read it at all. Suarez looks a real find and things look more positive for Liverpool but one swallow doesn't make a summer. Further investment is needed.

    Same goes for United. They've looked average at best this season, and they're only top because of the fact that Chelsea been terrible, City seem scared by their new position as one of the big boys coupled with Mancini's negativity at times, as well as Arsenal's inability to kill games off (Newcastle and Spurs) or beat the lesser teams (West Brom). They need some new blood. Defense isn't too bad, they were playing 4th and 5th choices today. Ferdinand and Vidic are solid, and smalling looks a prospect. Evra is world-class and Rafael is developing nicely. It's the rest that looks the problem. Carrick looks atrocious, not United class one bit. The only midfield creativity is Scholes and Giggs but for how much longer? Or Nani. They need some new talent to help out. Rooney hasn't been the same for a while, whilst Berba has flashes of brilliance but is too often anonimous. Too much of a luxury. Hernandez is a great finisher, but his link up play isn't the best, similar to a Michael Owen of old.

    Saw the 100 million transfer rumours, but they'd be lucky to get some of them for the prices suggested. Bale and Young would be good additions, but they'll be pricey given the current climate, plus they might face competition from City and Chelsea as well as Liverpool for their signatures, if Spurs and Villa choose to sell. United may struggle to tempt them. Another winger to complement Nani, and a creative central midfielder are a must if United want to improve.

  • Comment number 58.

    OK if not a points deduction, hit them harder. No media acknowledgement by SAF, no Man Utd games on TV. Then they would be in trouble.

  • Comment number 59.

    #27

    "Fergie's not exactly being given special treatment for the FA by not attending interviews. He gets fined every time he doesn't speak to the bbc just as every manager would."

    Well he is because even with the consistent refusals to show for interviews there is no learning of lessons, which is the point of punishments. They should see he is not learning and bring in a rule enforcing larger and larger punishments upon him for being petulant. His 'fines' are paid by the club not even out of his wage packet.

    "and at least he's sticking up for himself over it"

    Acting like a petulant brat when Panorama did a factual documentary into his son who was caught out red handed.

    "we're still waiting for holloway's promised resignation after getting hit with a fine for the 'weakened' team."

    Holloway if I remember correctly handed in his resignation but it wasn't accepted which is the right of the chairman to do. Holloway accepted this refusal and carried on with his job.

    "there's still no excuse not talking to the press just because you've lost."

    Quite right no argument there. They didn't refuse because of a loss they had said they wouldn't attend already probably because someone may dare to bring up his hypocricy at the last game. It's not just because they've lost he hasn't talked to the BBC post-match.

    "he is a petulant fellow at times to put it mildly"

    Mildly is inaccurate, mildly in this situation would be saying something stronger.

    "this has certainly been magnified this week, what with his hypocrisy around the Rooney incident"

    Magnified... he does it all the time.

    The FA needs to bring in a rule forcing (not punishing them for not) managers to explain themselves post-game and if they cannot come up with a good reason (being a huffy puffy little girl is not a good reason) they lose their coaching privileges and continued refusal means they would fail a fit and proper persons test and not be allowed to hold any position at a football club.

    On the game however

    Carragher - should have known better, lucky to not get a red
    Brawling - behave yourselves girls it's a game of football no need to start hugging each other and spitting the dummy. Get on with the game.
    Referee - did the right thing generally, could have booked a few more in the melee.

  • Comment number 60.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 61.

    liverpool deservered to win, but carra should of gone, no doubt about it. rafeal, was a yellow,intent but no contact, but the points are gone the scousers sing and yet we still top the table. carrick is hopless, scholes is old, play fletcher, at least he has energy & drive.

  • Comment number 62.

    For 20 years plus the SAF has got it right so whats changed......nothing. Keep the faith, he'll put it right.

  • Comment number 63.

    #53

    As much as I don't like Bowyer as a player he does get punished all those yellows lead to suspensions and tarnish him as he ends up missing big games or a manager won't play him just in case he loses it. Although likely not McLeish since he is a traitor (Mods he left his country for a paypacket) and likes people who are not very nice people to play (Mods Barry Ferguson).

  • Comment number 64.

    Expect Utd fans to swarm on here and say:

    1. You've a Liverpool supporter and you've been waiting for Utd to lose to gloat
    2. We don't need to rebuild, we just had an off-day
    3. The ref was against us, we need better officiating
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    It was a terrible tackle by Carragher but if Nani was sooo injured how'd he jump up and try to fight with Carragher and the ref?

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Adrenaline. Did you not see the size of the gash on his leg?

  • Comment number 65.

    #62

    For 20 odd years Brian Clough didn't get much wrong, and look how that ended . . .

    For 20 odd years, Liverpool were imperious, and yet that ended . . .

    Man U waited 26 years to win the league, and 32 to win the European Cup, and eventually they did . . .

    My point? Nothing is forever - either success or losing. Just because Fergie has done it before, you cannot guarantee he will do it in the future.

  • Comment number 66.

    As a United fan today was horrible to watch.
    Yes as everyone else has pointed out, carragher should have been sent off but as should rafael so i don't think it would have changed much.
    Also, as others have said, i have been a big defender of Carrick for the last year or so, but i just cannot be anymore. The amount of times Liverpools midfield ran in behind leaving the defence exposed was awful.

    One thing i think people may have overlooked is how much we have missed Valencia this season. How many assists did he provide last season for Rooney? 10+ at least id guess. When he is back, he could be the flare, along with the solidarity of having Vidic back, that could see us scrape over the line this year, though i do see Arsenal as the slight favourites.

    In terms of bringing people in, i would like to see Manuel Neuer brought in as first choice goalkeeper along with 2 creative midfielders ( Bale and Sneijder would be my personal choices) but they could cost far too much in the current climate. Another player who scored 4 in a recent game and looks extremely promising is Alexis Sanchez who i believe would be a top class signing.

    Re-building is certainly needed for next season, otherwise, as much as it pains me to admit, we could well get left behind our rivals

  • Comment number 67.

    There's plenty of over-reaction here I reckon. For example Dalglish has improved things for Liverpool, but "revitalised" when they got beat 3-0 by West Ham last week? Some of these football experts from the BBC and elsewhere say stuff like that and its impossible to take them seriously.

    I know they want the good old days of Liverpool FC again, but this will probably be yet another false dawn, there have been plenty of them in the last 20 years. As I recall Liverpool's best manager in that time has been Phil Thompson when he headed them up while Houllier was ill.

    And Ferguson's lost the plot, has he? I've heard that before too, though not quite so often as the Liverpool are coming back line. There's quite a lot of young talent, guys - Hernandez (who I reckon had a better first month than Suarez) and Smalling have got off to flying starts and theres more in the wings. Berbatov - this season's top scorer in the prem thus far, Nani improving. Yes there's things to sort out, players that need to move on, new talent thats needed. But we've been in this situation before, and then we win titles soon after.

    Today Man Utd lost against a top 6 side, away from home, by more than one goal for the first time this season (apart from West Ham in the Carling Cup), with a significant shake up in defence to contend with. Dalglish will probably have the sense that so many pundits don't have, not to get carried away with it all.

    Yes, United where below this season's level of performance, but Phil was wrong about Rooney - he put a shift in, chased back and rectified his occasional eras and cued up Giggs for a shot that went over. How many prem goals has Rooney scored since Saurez landed at Liverpool, and what has Suarez's tally been since then? Yes, he was good today, influential - but consistently so? Ummmm.... He's only just arrived, but thats my point - some start slow and then get going, some start fast and fade. Time will tell.

    Who's going to win the league this time? Too close to call, but it won't be Liverpool, Chelsea or Tottenham who the BBC pundits like to judge by different standards to Man U.

    Maybe thats just a compliment they're paying though...?

    Just a bit of balance guys, TV licence fee payers deserve that, I'd have thought.

    And a but of faith in Fergie - I'd rather be United Red than Liverpool red any old day. And I don't suppose we'll be knocking on Anfield's door for any of their players - none of them are good enough

    So well done Liverpool, the best result you've had in seven years. You put your chances away, scored more than your opponents. Do that all season, as United have, and you'd be top of the league. Which you're not, we are, thats my point, one rarely made without qualification by those talented beeb pundits. (though a little ironically I'd excuse Hansen much of my criticism)

    Anyway, goodnight, I'm off to bed, to sleep very soundly!

  • Comment number 68.

    13. At 00:28am on 07 Mar 2011, footballismylife wrote:

    completely agree with your point on needing a genuine world-class midfielder, the creativity in the middle of the park is woeful and even worse as you have mentioned, carrick has somehow been offered a new contract, i cannot think of a single performance this season or the last one that has merited that. Raul merielles was running past our midfield throughout the entire match making dangerous runs and supporting the striker. Daglish tactics were spot on and instead of relying on crossing, something that the premiership seemed to be obssessed with he had unpredictability in his side with Suarez dropping deep or going wide, it wasnt so long ago that Man utd also could interchange with three strikers and two wingers who could constantly change their position to confuse the defence. This season our play has been so static and rigid, we seemed to have a midfield four which make little to no movement and scholes even though he is brilliant can hardly be asked to run up and down the pitch for 90 mins. Rooney was again completely anonymous, but worse still he seems to be getting a regualar start in the first team, how has he merited this? apart from the "two goals in his last three games" under than that contribution (one which came in a losing cause) his performances have been awful this season and he actually looked a better player on the left of the midfield, at least there he actually touched the ball a few times. What has happened to the greatest talent this country has seen since Gazza,he looks a shadow of the player he was last season and seems to have moments of madness this season showing the immaturity he has when he first came to the club. The only reason commentators and journalists alike are saying this is not a vintage man utd team is for one reason, our midfield in comparison to the fanatastic midfielders we have had in the past are nowhere near the required standard. Apart from nani who has still been inconsistent this season i cannot name any other midfielder that has impressed on a weekly basis, the fact that giggs and scholes remain two of our best players puts the rest of the midfield to shame. The tackles you mentioned were deserving of a red but rafael simply reacted to an awful rake of his legs by maxi rodriguez, a challenge you have completely disregarged this was deserving of a red and was completely unwarranted. I really do hope the rumours of all those players coming to United to be true. In particular the amount of young british players we are linked with as it is always good to have a mixture of home-grown and foreign talent, something that man utd have always had and other big teams such as chelsea and particularly arsenal have never had. Unfortuantely I really do doubt the Glazer will spend a huge amount of money, particularly the sort you need for the likes of bale whom is probably worth around 35m. Instead we will just have to rely on finding another jem like we did with hernandez but those buys dont come around that often.

    ------------

    Ever heard of a paragraph?

    P.S. Liverpool battered United today. Sort of proved that with Kuyt scoring all three goals with an aggregate distance of about 8 yards. If that.

  • Comment number 69.

    1 win does not tell you anything about the future. United lost to Wolves the other week, does that mean Wolves are 'back'? Are Wolves about to challenge for the title? No. Because it was a one off game.

    Liverpool have never had trouble getting up for big games, their problems revolve around their inability to sustain a challenge over an entire season. They don't have the squad or the heart for that, and haven't had it for decades. United will probably still win the league, and who will remember this? The same people that remember Liverpool beating United in all of United's other title winning seasons (or, remember Newcastle beating United 5-0 in that title winning season), ie, nobody.

    They were the better team today, against United's 3rd and 5th choice centre-halves, and good for them, but glossing over Kenny's huge failings and acting like he's overseen some sort of huge turnaround is pure delusion. He's been in charge 12 games. 12. He's drawn at Anfield to Wigan, lost to United, Blackpool, and a week ago he was getting beaten by West Ham.

    Phil, maybe you should wait a day to calm down before writing these. We all get excited when our team wins, but bloody hell man, at least try to stay objective, or grounded in reality.

  • Comment number 70.

    All that happened today was that a number of Man Uniteds "second" eleven were proven inadequate. I count Giggs and Scholes amongst that group, despite their amazing service over the last 15 or more years. They are no longer able to force their quality on games against decent teams. Uniteds back-up centre-backs are similarly challenged, though Smalling may one day prove to be as important as Ferdinand and Vidic are today.

    I am a Liverpool fan, and today was a good one. I was at Anfield in 1990 when Beardsley got the last hat-trick against United, so I know a little bit about the game. Talk of United needing a massive re-build are, frankly, ridiculous. Its normal that some new quality players will come to Manchester, as they have always done. And today would have been a much different game if Fletcher played, Nani stayed on and Ferdinand and Vidic had played.

    One thing you are right about, Phil, is the joy just seeing Kenny on the sidelines gives us Liverpool fans. And when we score that big smile and leap of delight he makes, is in such stark contrast to Benitez. Happy days may well be here again! I thought Suarez was tremendous and his display deserved a goal. I think this will give him tremendous confidence, and we could see an avalanche of goals from him in the next few weeks. Carroll had a run out, and looked terrible! I'm sure he will need a good few games to get match fit, and hopefully by the end of the season we will get an idea of what 35 million quid buys you. Meireles is proving to be quite the player, reminds me a bit of Terry MacDermott, ghosting into the box. We have a good few players who are good enough, and a manager who is more than good enough, so maybe we can compete next season.

    Dalglish will take care of the defence in the summer, and I think Lucas may well get some company in the centre of midfield.

  • Comment number 71.

    "rafeal, was a yellow,intent but no contact"

    Probably the most ridiculous comment I have ever seen. It was deserving of a red, you don't need a few stud marks or a broken leg to justify a tackle as being reckless.

    As for Liverpool I thought they were outstanding today. Off the ball movement was sensational and I have seen it in a few games since Kenny took over, certainly adds another dimension to their game. All the players in midfield took on responsibility and played the ball very nicely. It was quite nice to see an all round decent team performance and it appears that the days of reliance on Gerrard are passing by.

    United on the other hand were very poor, summed up by their inability to keep hold of the ball. The normally reliant Scholes giving the ball away on numerous occasions and some very dodgy looking passes by a number of players in their own half.

    Rafael might aswell have got a red card, because who can concentrate fully on such a high-profile game of football after losing their head like that. He looks a tidy player, but all too often he loses it and lashes out. Maybe with more experience we will see him learning to control his frustrations, but at the moment he looks a little petulant.

    Petulance being the only word to describe Man Utd's reaction to the outcome of the game. I cannot come up with any reason from this game for not wanting to attend the press conferences. At least attend and state that only questions relating to today's game will be answered, then you will not have to risk even more action from the FA.

    All-in-all though, a very exciting match, with an ever more exciting post-match outcome, and an enthralling end of the season at the top.

  • Comment number 72.

    SAF tends to get the players he wants. If he gets Bale then look out I feel. Also no-one is mentioning Valencia who is first class.

    Midfield is the most important arae for SAF because compared to Arsenal, and even Spurs they look lacking especially with Scholes, Giggs at the age they are.

    But who to buy? Top Quality central midfielders are in short supply except for maybe at Arsenal & Barca. Pirlo, Xavi, Iniesta, Gerrard, Nasri, van der Vaart are not for sale so who does SAF try and get?

    Rodwell? I can't see it.

  • Comment number 73.

    Good game and great result unless if your a utd fan ofcos. Hopefully arsenal can take advantage. We have done all we can to stop that 19th title going to the mancs.

    Fergie in my opinion has this attitude that he is untouchable, and like what someone else said earlier this media blackout is a blatant two fingers to the people who are paying big money i.e. the broadcast right holders etc. I cannot believe he has got away for almost 7 years without giving a press interview for the BBC. I hope talksport and sky all complain about his breech of contractual terms. Someone needs to take action.

    Suarez is pure class and i cant wait to see him and Carroll in action. I think their strengths will compliment each other well and we might see one of the deadliest strike force partnerships in a while.

    Anyone doubting Daglish's rejuvenation prowess should examine the last 9 weeks under his reign. The team is playing with more confidence and flair than they ever did under hogdson. Yes we still have a lot of deadwood and we will probably not be playing champions league football next season but with Daglish at the helm, Clarke on the training pitch and Comolli behind the scenes the future is bright...the future is red!

    Long live the king. YNWA

  • Comment number 74.

    Apparently its now "potentially defamatory" to say anything bad about Manchester united but I guess given the BBCs coverage of them over the years I shouldn't be surprised by that.

    I'd like to answer #67 though. United were not that far below the standard of their performances this season. Last season or recent seasons maybe, but not this season. You've just been lucky up until recently. You should have lost to Blackpool and West Brom as well as others.

    Rooney WAS fairly anonymous today. Your whole team was. I don't think the missing of Vidic and Ferdinand can be blamed either. Its hardly the first time RF has been injured, nor the first time NV has been suspended, though that usually happens during games against Liverpool rather than before them, I'll grant you. Brown was on of the defenders beaten by Suarez for the first goal, but neither he nor Smalling were at all involved or at fault for the other two. I think SAF just got his team wrong and got his tactics wrong.

    While I am not going to get carried away, I do think its fair to say that Liverpool are revitalised now compared to their time under Hodgson. That said, I might revise that opinion if they lose next week.

    *****The next paragraph is entirely my own opinion and in no way represents the opinion of the BBC, nor any of its employees or associates. In fact this whole post is my own opinion.*****

    I'm certainly not going to join any chorus of "Fergie's lost the plot" yet, but I do find his temper and his attitude frequently disappointing and rather unprofessional for a public figure of his standing. He does neither himself or his club any favours that way. Its a shame no one in the FA or the media seems to be willing to call him out on that.

  • Comment number 75.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 76.

    Liverpool were the better team today, and I have seen signs of improvement from them since Daglish has come in but I think its a bit reactionary to say that this was a match that could spark a new beginning. More than likely they will be in the europa league once again next season which impacts on the quality of player they can bring in during the summer, which in turn affects how well they compete for the league next season. With the new owners they should have money to spend and will be improved but i expect that united, chelsea, arsenal and spurs will all be adding to their squads aswell. As a united fan myself I have been thoroughly underwhelmed at the teams performances this season, the midfield is very weak and aside from nani, giggs and occasionally berbatov we lack real attacking threat. This is in no small part down to rooneys lack of form and the long term absence of valencia and also parks absence in the shorter term. My hope is their return to the team will improve our ability to break down teams. Smalling and hernandez have been very impressive this season and if you look at some of the other young players we have on loan or in the reserve and youth teams it doesnt make for bad reading. From what I have seen the likes of Joshua King, Ravel Morrison and particularly Paul Pogba arent too far away from being first team players, add them to the players who will be returning from loan spells and you have the bones of potentially a very exciting team.
    So thats my spiel, may have got a bit carried away but my point is what one person calls a decline another person would call a 'transitional period'. My optimistic interpretation of united at the moment is the latter.

  • Comment number 77.

    #crumbs
    does it bother you that much that i havent used a paragraph? as for kuyt he has scored 45 goals in 165 games you can have him he is crap! Secondly i acknowleged liverpool played well and deserved their win but after in was their cup final and your use of the word "battered" proved is as if liverpool did something momentous. Need i remind you liverpool lost in the F.A cup to man utd and they will finish with a trophy whereas liverpool will be waiting the next 10 years to actually win something.

  • Comment number 78.

    Scholes, O'Shea, Carrick, and Fletcher are all well past their sell-by dates. Giggs can't go on forever.

    What happened to all the youngsters we bought? Pogba? Bebe? Obertan? Just to name a few among many. Play the them or sell them.

  • Comment number 79.

    Petulance being the only word to describe Man Utd's reaction to the outcome of the game. I cannot come up with any reason from this game for not wanting to attend the press conferences.

    ...............................................


    SAF had already stated BEFORE the game he would do no media work, win or lose, and that included MUTV. Nothing to do with the result, more to do with not being allowed to have an opinion.

  • Comment number 80.

    United fan here.

    First of, Liverpool got a deserved win today and it just embarrasses me to see some United fans complaining about the refereeing today. Yes, Carragher should have been sent off and the same for goes for Rafael. I think the ref did a good job esp during the heated moments.

    It was a terrible performance from United, and that's undeniable. We desperately need a new midfield. Why Carrick is still on the pitch bedazzles me and how he managed to get a new 3 year deal is beyond me. We really need to invest in some top-class players this summer, because we have been mediocre this season.

    Frankly, now I'm more worried about Nani that today's scoreline. He's really really important and with Valencia looking to come back soon I was looking forward to have lively attack from both wings. I don't know how long Nani will be out, but I sincerely hope he'll be back ASAP. With Park out, we have only Giggs and with his age......

    United really need to get their form back if we want to win anything this season.

  • Comment number 81.

    As a Utd fan I agree with the general consensus on carrick. Never been the same since the end of the '08 season. I only hope fergie gave him a new contract to get a better price in the summer. Same goes for Rooney.

    When Ronaldo first left there were serious question marks over whether Rooney could step up to the mark. At first it seemed he could but since the injury last year he has been mediocre to say the least.

    World class.... No! Good Player.... Yes but thats all.

    The Ronaldo's, Messi, Zidane, Maldini, Figo etc have proved that world class players actually turn up and make their presence felt every season.

    On another topic. Is this all Fergies fault?

    I don't think so. I feel the PL overall is deteriorating. Sides are getting older. Players less value for money. Taxes are too high to attract the very best players -regardless of this talk of trusts players use. When you can only access a small portion of the trusts each year they are not always attractive to a player and of course you can utilise these in Italy & Spain also - The climate and general quality of living outside London it's no wonder the playing field is levelling in the PL.

    It's no coincidence English teams were competing in CL finals at a time when they had quality domestic competition.

    Utd require major surgery over the next few seasons & so do the others but isn't it part of the fun watching a new team take shape and grow!


  • Comment number 82.

    Can anyone tell me why Nani went down injured and had to be stretchered off after he had skipped up to the ref to complain about Carraghers tackle?
    Yes it was a bad tackle but Nanis theatrics right before he decided to go down and writhe in agony would suggest that there was no injury.

    Perhaps he couldn't take it that ManU were being outplayed by Liverpool, that he provided the header for Kuyts second goal and that he was largely inneffective.
    IF that's so he has bottled it seriously and will never be able to stand on a premier league pitch again without shame, and I hope the fans dont let him forget it.

  • Comment number 83.

    Phil, dont you think that there is a very "big problem" problem with the referees? Explain to us how Carragher was able to stay on that pitch? How Maxi with a high knee tackle on Rafael or Rafael with a studs up challenge on Lucas or Suarez hair tug on Rafael or Gerrard taunting Nani as he lay on the deck? Dont you think we need a press conference for the referees after the games to explain their decisions. why dont we accept the reality. Why say the referee was "linient" yet he clearly erred and should be accountable for it to all the footballing world.

  • Comment number 84.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 85.

    For all those who think Nani couldn't have got up and run and then collapsed again I would like to say that I saw exactly the same happen in a rugby match in the US that I played in whereby a guys skin on his shin was literally split from just below his knee to about two inches above where the foot joins the leg, cut straight down to the bone and no blood whatsoever.....he didn't panic until someone else shouted 'don't look', at which point our brave second rower was sick! The bloke then went into shock at what he could see....it took about 30 seconds for all this to happen.

    The thing I hated about the whole episode was Keyt verbally abusing Nani (completely unnecessary) and then the Liverpool crowd booing him off the pitch. Lovely that's what I want my young sons to learn.

  • Comment number 86.

    Would it not be great if the Incredible Sulk continued his media blackout, they could perhaps use a ventriloquists dummy aided by Macari or Crerand to do the media work for the club.

  • Comment number 87.

    ManU will win the PL this year because Arsenal will give it to them. Arsenal will never be fighters, and they lack quality too - no matter how you cut and taylor a budget suit, it still is a budget suit, and everyone will see that from 8 feet away. Arsenal, I am sorry, are a budget suit.

    Anyway, ManU should consider themselves lucky when they win it this time. They will be the weakest champions in the history of the PL. But I am sure that they will spend some money and rebuild. This team is about winning.

  • Comment number 88.

    United may still go on to win the title Phil, but you don't mention that they have arguably been on top because most of their more difficult looking fixtures were scheduled for the end of the season. In the last week they've lost away to Chelsea and Liverpool, and they've still got to go to the Emirates, and Chelsea won't fall over at Old Trafford. In the past we might have fancied United to get maximum points at West Ham, Newcastle and Blackburn, but it doesn't look so certain this season. SAF might have a smile on his face seeing that the last game is Blackpool at home, but wouldn't that beat it all if Ollie could cap off their season there?!

    Of course, it's all ifs, but going back just a few games, if Rooney hadn't produced that once in a 'blue moon' volley against City, and City had held on to the 3 points against Fulham last week, we might be at least only 2 points behind United with the same games played. Some people are saying the PL has lost quality at the top, and this may be true, but I wonder if there is also a grudging reluctancy to acknowledge that the rest have improved and consequently the pencilled in 3 points are fewer and further between. From hereonin, it might all come crumbling down, but all our teams are still in the CL, and City and Liverpool are still in the Europa League. I'm not seeing many rollovers week in week out.

    Earlier in the season, Derek Boyata was sent off by Mark Clattenburg after 5 minutes for a last man offence as City went on to lose 0-3 to Arsenal. Besides the game handicap, there was also the handicap of not being available for 3 subsequent games. Yesterday, Alan Hutton stayed on the pitch after a last man offence before half time, as Spurs nearly went on to collect 3 points. Jonathan Stevenson said he was happy about that as he didn't want his entertainment spoilt, though isn't that exactly what a defender illegally denying an opponent a goalscoring opportunity is doing. An outraged poster mailed him to remind him also of consistency. That's right. Along with Hutton, Rafael and Carragher will also be available for their next 3 games, one of which is against City I think for the latter. That's without going into the Rooney elbow, and of course City have been known to get the rub of the green, but it's clear referees have a big say in 'football' destiny.

    Is the demise of United just you hoping Phil? Haven't we been here many times before? Personally, I can't wait to see the back of Scholes and Giggs. This will leave a big hole in their creativity department. Their back 4 looks good for the immediate future, but we don't know about the goalie. Nani and Berbatov are good, Rooney's more often out than in these days, but the Mexican is a fantastic goalscorer, which leaves the void in midfield. In days gone by, United would have just bought the cream of British football with the odd continental import, but there's more cream available these days with other clubs also able to attract players from all around the globe. I'm looking forward to more level playing field, if we can sort out referee consistency.



  • Comment number 89.

    Carragher should have walked. There is no doubt about it. Why didn't he? It's a simple question. It must be addressed. You can bet you bottom dollar the ref will look at the footage of that challenge again and know he got it wrong.

    Would it have changed anything? I doubt it but the point is it would have been interesting and indeed correct to have the chance of finding out.

    Btw, the other incidences with Rafael and Maxi, (even Suarez hair pulling) are a side show. A total distraction from the ugly, leg breaker of a challenge by Carragher.

  • Comment number 90.

    You can bet you bottom dollar the ref will look at the footage of that challenge again and know he got it wrong.
    _____________________________

    You mean footage of that carnage?

    Well, the ref is always right. Ask Mike Phelan..

  • Comment number 91.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 92.

    You cannot compare Mike Phelan to a ventriloquists dummy.

  • Comment number 93.

    Well done Liverpool for exposing and taking advantage of Utd's weaknesses. Far too many times we have seen Utd playing with a weak back four and yet teams have not tested them.
    Utd fans express concerns about the weaknesses of this current Utd team/squad - but they are top of the league!! What does this say about the other teams?
    Utd are fortunate that the team closest to them points wise is Arsenal who are likely to increasingly stutter as they enter into the last few months of the season.

  • Comment number 94.

    I honestly don't wish any professional footballer any harm but with Nani it has really become a case of the "boy who cried wolf" way too often. Carragher should've have seen red, Maxi-yellow, Rafael-red.

    However, doesn't every other football fan (especially Utd fans) always say Arsenal fans whine too much about dangerous tackles? Maybe this will open your eyes to the state of English football at this present time.

    Also don't know if anyone saw it but Shawcross made another potential leg-breaking tackle this weekend but the player got lucky...let's hope these crazy, over-the-top, full-blooded tackles stop before it's too late...

  • Comment number 95.

    Much as it pains me, as a Utd fan, to say, I think the blog has got it more or less spot on. This was a poor performance from Utd. Liverpool were hungrier, more skillful and were tactically more astute. Hats off to Dalglish and his team for the win.

    Phil, you're right about the need for Utd to rebuild, although, to some extent, that's what's happening at the moment. The da Silva brothers are improving; Smalling has proven himself in recent weeks to be a shrewd buy and, as others have mentioned, both Park and Valencia are missing from injury at the moment, but have something to give in terms of width and pace. The key issue, as you and others have pointed out, is the centre of midfield and, yes, I think there'll need to be some investment there in the summer. The Carrick deal may well have been a 'selling contract' - I hope so, because he's declined over the last couple of seasons. Personally, I'd like to see Rooney take the Scholes position in midfield (Lord knows, he's got the skill for it), but I think you still need a quality player alongside him. Fletcher and Anderson are good, but this is a season where the lack of quality in certain areas of the squad has been exposed and we'd benefit from having a good tackler/distributor of the ball in the heart of midfield.

    As to the ref's decisions about the sendings-off, yes, he got them wrong, but, in the context of a passionate, hard-fought match, I'm not going to complain.

    Regards,

    jd

  • Comment number 96.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 97.

    It's a disgrace people are doubting Nani's injury, some horrific photos for proof

    http://football-talk.co.uk/16018/photo-sickening-image-of-nani-injury-after-disgusting-carragher-tackle/

  • Comment number 98.

    It was a terrible tackle by Carragher but if Nani was sooo injured how'd he jump up and try to fight with Carragher and the ref?
    -----------------------------------------------
    Probably the same way Fabregas took the penalty again Barcelona last year despite having seriously injured himself? I'm guessing...sometimes it can take seconds or minutes for the full extent of the injury to be felt...or adrenaline overpowers the pain for a few seconds, as we saw with Nani yesterday.

  • Comment number 99.

    So Phil, which world class central midfielder do you think they should go for? Let's assume a fairly big budget and realistically that the likes of the Barca midfield wouldn't be tempted away and big english rivals wouldn't sell. It's clearly the problem position for United but there's no obvious silver bullet so would be interested to hear your thoughts.

  • Comment number 100.

    I have to say I disagree with general feeling of the 3 tackles. I Thought the Referee had a fantastic game and didnt wilt under enormous pressure.

    Yes, Jamie Carraghers was a poor tackle, but I dont think it was malicious as the ball was bobbling about and he made a over commited attempt to win it. And too often Referees throw Red Cards around for mis-timed tackles.

    As was Meireles tackle the ball again in the air he mis-timed his attempt and caught Rafael causing him to rush in and fully commit a poor attempt at at tackle. But neither of these should have been Red Cards.

    In a heated rivalry like this you will get over zealous tackles and the Referee did excellent to not lose his head whilst everyone else lost theirs, neither did he pander to usual sight of dissent and mock card showing by both sides and never took any rubbish.

    Finally, have to say Liverpools performance was outstanding and things look to be getting better.

 

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