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Liverpool fail to exploit Man Utd negativity

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Phil McNulty | 21:34 UK time, Saturday, 15 October 2011

Sir Alex Ferguson raised expectations by elevating Manchester United's meeting with Liverpool to a level above Spain's "el Clasico" between Barcelona and Real Madrid - then dropped them to the floor with the arrival of his teamsheet.

Ferguson's selection did not reflect this lofty status and looked shaped to secure a point and end a run of three Premier League defeats at Anfield, not put on a show for the likes of visiting basketball superstar and Liverpool shareholder LeBron James.

The absence of United's own special talent Wayne Rooney was the result, Ferguson explained, of the striker being "devastated" by his three-game Euro 2012 suspension after a red card for England in Montenegro.

So Rooney joined United's finest attacking weaponry, including Nani and Javier Hernandez, in spending the first hour either sitting down or trotting along Anfield's touchline to various levels of abuse.

Ferguson's starting line-up provided much of the backdrop to a game Liverpool should have won after Steven Gerrard celebrated his first start since March by putting them ahead - and one United were grateful to draw after the predatory Hernandez headed a late equaliser.

In the search for explanations for this approach, several plausible theories can be put forward. Ferguson and his elephant's memory will have recalled those three losses, characterised by Liverpool ensuring they outfought United comprehensively before letting the quality of players like Fernando Torres and, latterly, Luis Suarez take effect.

So Ferguson relegated his best attacking trio to the bench, sent Phil Jones into midfield as a mark of exaggerated respect to Charlie Adam and played trusty workhorses Darren Fletcher and Park Ji-sung in midfield.

There is also an important Champions League game against SC Otelul Galati in Romania on Tuesday and next weekend's Manchester derby to consider. There was, however, actually an air of negativity and a flattering measure of respect to Liverpool in the cautious approach of a manager not usually known for taking a backward step.

Ryan Giggs jumps out of the wall while defending a free-kick for Manchester United against Liverpool

Manchester United made some uncharacteristic mistakes against Liverpool. Photo: PA

If it was designed to ensure United, above all, did not lose their unbeaten Premier League record this season at the home of their arch-rivals it worked - but it was a mighty close thing because Ferguson got away with one here.

Liverpool had enough opportunities, including three in injury time, to extend that sequence of victories in the face of an unconvincing team choice and unconvincing performance from the 19-times champions.

United only actually joined the battle once Gerrard's 68th-minute free-kick, aided and abetted by Ryan Giggs inexplicably jumping out of the wall, put Liverpool ahead. It was only then that the fixture actually resembled anything like the game Ferguson assured us it was.

For Liverpool there was a sense of missed opportunity against this unfamiliar, ill-at-ease United, and for the visitors a sense of relief as their supporters tucked away in a corner of Anfield Road celebrated a draw at the final whistle.

If Ferguson, in time-honoured managerial style, was searching for positives he could take them from the result and a performance from goalkeeper David de Gea that went a significant way towards answering many questions posed about the youngster since his summer arrival from Atletico Madrid.

It was in games such as this, in front of a Kop intent on probing his temperament and ability, that it was said De Gea would face his most searching examinations. He passed this particular test with plenty to spare.

De Gea was outstanding, not only showing real presence in his area but by producing three crucial saves. The Spaniard blocked Suarez at point-blank range in the first half, then saved brilliantly from Dirk Kuyt and Jordan Henderson as Liverpool reacted admirably to Hernandez's equaliser.

And watching from the sidelines for much of the afternoon was Rooney, as Ferguson once again showed Merseyside brings out his protective side. He left Rooney out of the meeting with former club Everton at Goodison Park last season following allegations about his private life and here again he was removed from the starting action by his manager.

If Rooney was indeed devastated following his England ban, it is hard to imagine the boyhood Evertonian's mood actually being improved by his exclusion against Liverpool. Could it be Ferguson does not trust his temperament in front of a Merseyside audience?

When the striker did come on it was in a deeper midfield role and to a predictably raucous Anfield welcome. He survived in comfort - the chants of "who's the Scouser in the wig?" from the Kop in honour of his mightily impressive new head of hair was as harrowing as it got.

Manager Kenny Dalglish understandably claimed Liverpool's disappointment at their failure to beat United was an obvious indicator of their improvement, but there will also be frustration that they were unable to take advantage of Ferguson's surprisingly unambitious line-up.

Liverpool will take delight in the return of Gerrard after groin surgery with a goal that indicated his importance, while Dalglish himself admitted he was "running out of vocabulary" to describe the darting, dangerous Suarez.

If he is struggling, Ferguson and United's players may be able to help him out with a few words because the Uruguayan is a mixture of pure class and a confrontational, provocative approach that will make him an icon at Anfield and an irritant just about everywhere else.

United's manager restricted himself to: "The boy Suarez dives all over the place." And there can be no dispute he is an expert at winning and drawing fouls.

Suarez is also a class act and was a constant threat to the returning Rio Ferdinand, who had a full-time job keeping him in check.

So the endgame was anti-climax. And on this evidence, and with those noisy neighbours Manchester City now banging the drum at the top of the Premier League, Ferguson may be forced to revise his opinion and consider whether next week's derby at Old Trafford might just be an even bigger game.

Comments

Page 1 of 4

  • Comment number 1.

    PHIL

    In not one of our last 4 games, has the defence or the midfield looked right.

    Do you think Fergie's mad enough to come to Anfield thinking things would just right themselves on the day & if they scored 3(as they did last year), we'd breeze in 4?

    We were much more solid today & but for Giggs' inexplicable free-kick jump out of it, Liverpool weren't going to score.

    Sorry, but you don't win titles with 26/7 glorious attacking wins, even if you think you can. Pity Rooney didn't start, but do you think he'd have been anything but subdued if he had?

  • Comment number 2.

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

  • Comment number 3.

    The wily old master had a plan and it worked to the T. Hats off to Fergie.

  • Comment number 4.

    1. At 22:52 15th Oct 2011, coleusman wrote:

    We were much more solid today & but for Giggs' inexplicable free-kick jump out of it, Liverpool weren't going to score.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Is this Comedy Central?

    Firstly, you shouldn't admonish Giggs. He's renowned for his ability at playing away, so he's always going to be the first name on the teamsheet in a fixture like this.

    Secondly, if it wasn't for a classy pro like the Spaniard, De Gea, then Liverpool would've bagged about 4.

    The EPL is so predictable, with Man City hammering 4s and 5s past all and sundry, and United doing the same, while Chelsea are also cruising to wins against the pub teams which make up about half the league.

    Yawn!

  • Comment number 5.

    I don't know if I watched a different game to Phil, but I thought United were worthy of a point at Anfield. Certainly not all three, but a point for sure. The only time Liverpool were really dominant was in the last few minutes as they pushed to try and get a winner.

  • Comment number 6.

    Blah blah blah. Big 4, rooney man u etc etc. heard it all before. Phil, you're a good journalist, try writing about something that doesn't involve the same old stuff. Football is such an exciting game, and doesn't just revolve around the premier league, never mind the' big 4'
    Write about things that don't get 24 hours a day coverage

  • Comment number 7.

    Sir Alex Ferguson raised expectations by elevating Manchester United's meeting with Liverpool to a level above Spain's "el Clasico" between Barcelona and Real Madrid - then dropped them to the floor with the arrival of his teamsheet.
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Phil, I think you mean that Alex Ferguson was auditioning for a gig at the Hammersmith Apollo with his wisecrack about the Manchester United v Liverpool fixture being bigger than El Clásico.

    That would have certainly had them rolling in the aisles.

  • Comment number 8.

    A fairly balanced piece Phil. Liverpool will be disappointed with not winning the game; with their possession and attacking superiority it could have been 3-1 again. I'm not sure how many points united will win away from home this season, could be their achilles heel. Have a feeling Chelsea will be there or there abouts..

  • Comment number 9.

    Contrary to the idiotic justication given by Ray Wilkins for MOTM in this game it surely had to go to De Gea.

    His saves were outstanding and got his time an ill-deserved point.

    And the fact that he should have been MOTM says all that there is to say about this game. Liverpool lost whatever remote chance they had at the title today.

  • Comment number 10.

    Awful game.
    I suppose it's a point against one of our rivals but by hell,the football put on by Utd was once again dire. This comes after an underwhelming performance with Norwich.
    Our frailty in midfield was once again highlighted in the way Liverpool continually found space or cut through a non-existant 5 across the middle. It is alarming that the only player able to play a pass is 38yrs old next month. Park and Fletcher were way off the pace and only confirms that at the high table of the game..they are not good enough.
    But once again,SAF makes a mess of the tactics and by leaving the pace of Nani,Rooney and Hernandez,he surrendered the midfield and attack to Liverpool,which put pressure on the back 4.
    Once again,we concede a goal and only then do we revert to the old Utd and try to attack and because of that,we eventually score.
    Brownie points to Smalling who IMO will be Utd's best defender for the next 10yrs...and young DeGea who impresses me more each game.
    Must do better Reds...a lot better.

  • Comment number 11.

    Tedious game. ManU went not to lose, they did not lose. Job done.

    I'd watch El Clásico every time over this boredom.

  • Comment number 12.

    @Pahgy Loves Manchester... clearly says your are totally baised in your name, liverpool didnt deserve anything and man utd are class etc etc, did you watch the game? man utd had 10 players defending for 70 mins as fergie knows that they cant come to anfield and attack.

    I would say liverpool were unlucky not to get 3 points but thanks to de gea you kept the point as utd had their backs to the wall at the end... for me if the ref give the rio FK you should also sent him off due to the postion adam got into, refs are not being consistent enough, its ridulous how in the same match they arent booking ppl for the same offence as they earlier did or give a pen for something that was the same as another foul outside the ball (not including the shirt pulls else they would be 7 pens each a game, however that would stop ppl pulling shirts after a few games)

  • Comment number 13.

    Fergie came for the point, and possibly thought to nick it with the options he had on the bench. It worked, I don't think you can criticise him too much for taking a point in one of the most hostile grounds he's going to encounter all season.

    I've seen people criticise Phil for talking about 'the big 4' too, this is the game he travelled to. He will likely go the the Manchester derby next week and report on that, he is sent to what is thought is the biggest games. Don't criticise him for blogging about them when that's the game he's been sent to watch.

  • Comment number 14.

    Perhaps the personnel were somewhat surprising, but the formation and tactics weren't. Fergie had to change after our last three games at Anfield - we adopted a far more aggressive approach and ended up losing after being outfought and outmanned in midfield. Don't forget it was this more cautious formation which got us those two 1-0 victories at Anfield 4/5 seasons ago.

    It's somewhat ironic that the examples you use to illustrate your assertion that Liverpool deserved to win the game, (the chances in extra time) were when United had both a more attacking formation and personnel! And actually the first half Suarez chance aside, which was a lucky ricochet, I don't remember Liverpool creating an awful lot until the goal. Our approach was working quite well - setting up an opportunity for a late smash and grab.

    I thought what was most worrying for us was our continuing vulnerability to quick corners - we've switched off a few times now when teams take a quick set play. And we clearly haven't learnt from last season's game at Old Trafford against Liverpool - when the wall also broke apart for a Gerrard freekick. I find repeating that basic mistake unforgiveable.

    But a great point for us - not too dissimilar to the point we got at City last season.

  • Comment number 15.

    Skrtel at fault again, when is Liverpool going to realise this guy is not good enough. Need a descent "fit" centre half. Two points dropped.

  • Comment number 16.

    I do agree that Ferguson surprised many with his selection today and I'm sure that the drop in performance over the last few weeks has been due to the returning veterans, coupled with injury and suspensions, which has made it tougher for the regulars to gel with the replacements.

    Ferguson is a master of this and your article should be regarded as an observation rather than a criticism.

  • Comment number 17.

    I couldn't see utd winning today until fergie bamboozled anfield with his selection i have not seen such a quiet crowd at anfield for years!! Well done fergie
    Came and took what you wanted

  • Comment number 18.

    13. At 23:50 15th Oct 2011, RedWristband wrote:

    I've seen people criticise Phil for talking about 'the big 4' too, this is the game he travelled to. He will likely go the the Manchester derby next week and report on that, he is sent to what is thought is the biggest games. Don't criticise him for blogging about them when that's the game he's been sent to watch.
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Yes, and also, as the main BBC football blog writer, he has a job to write an article which will engender a lively and stimulating debate, and one which will elicit numerous responses from us - the readers. Phil is always successful at doing this, so I reckon he's doing a decent job.

    Besides, people whinge about him talking about the top 4, but when a blog about a team like Bolton or Fulham comes up, then you'll be lucky if you get more than 50 replies in two days.

  • Comment number 19.

    @redwristband,
    He was sent there by his boss, I don't deny. It's just that there is so much more to our beautiful game than the big 4.
    Lets read something different

  • Comment number 20.

    I am not disappointed at the point we got at Liverpool today, but at the level of respect SAF showed them. Phil is right, United was too negative.
    I know going to Anfield with all guns blazing is quite risky, but United should have had a more attacking mindset going into the game. As Spurs showed a fortnight ago, Liverpool can be destabilized with blistering pace and cutthroat football. United has more than enough firepower to pack one hell of a punch.
    Having said that, I am quite worried by United's midfield and defense. I cannot quite place my finger to it, but something is seriously wrong. There is a fault line that makes this world class team seem quite...shaky.
    Finally, it's unfortunate how Suarez and Adam go to ground too easily. Puts a sour taste to an otherwise good game of football.
    Thank you, Liverpool, for the wonderful game today

  • Comment number 21.

    All this talk about it being a boring match and Man U's negative approach. I find it strange that there is no mention of the real story of the match, the obvious dive by Adam and the odd decision by the ref to give a free kick. Ok, it saved us from what was heading for a 0-0 but have we really reached that stage of acceptance of cheating players & ref's incompetence that we gloss over such issues without comment.

  • Comment number 22.

    19. At 00:05 16th Oct 2011, Trinitygold wrote:

    Lets read something different
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Truthfully though, what would you rather read? The 700+ comments which will inevitably ensue as a result of Phil's article on Liverpool v Manchester United, or the 40 replies which would occur if he wrote a blog about the Norwich v Swansea game?

  • Comment number 23.

    21. At 00:15 16th Oct 2011, TheFin10 wrote:

    I find it strange that there is no mention of the real story of the match, the obvious dive by Adam and the odd decision by the ref to give a free kick.
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Yes, and notice afterwards how Alex Ferguson says something along the lines of ''it's difficult for the referee when Suarez is diving all over the place.''

    Of course, point the finger at an honest pro like Suarez, because he's 'johnny foreigner'', but do not blame your fellow Glaswegian for diving in the incident that you're upset about!

    It's no wonder that the British are renowned for their myopic, blinkered xenophobia.

  • Comment number 24.

    10.At 23:29 15th Oct 2011, 1878onwards wrote:

    " Would you Adam and Eve it, I agree with 1878 onwards".

    The ist half was garbage, both teams could not put a pass together. UT'd midfield was no existent.

    What's going on with "boring, boring Ferguson playing 5 in midfield", parking the bus. I thought only one manager in Manchester parked the bus? (Not anymore "Boring, Boring CITY")

  • Comment number 25.

    Fergie got his tactics right by matching up 3 on 3 in midfield but having done that to shore things up he got the selection wrong. Today was not a day to experiment with Jones nor a day for Giggs.

    Fletcher-Carrick-Anderson
    Nani-Rooney-Young

    All regular midfielders who've played together in big games before, 2 wide players with a real threat and your top striker involved. What better tonic for Rooney than a goal today. Needs to man up if he was left out for moping about the national team.

    Then he brought the right subs on but took Young instead of Giggs off and put Rooney in midfield which left us open to their late flurry.

    Point is good there but they were there for the taking.

  • Comment number 26.

    Admittedly it's been in the recent hours I've heard about this, but surely the alleged (

  • Comment number 27.

    IF I have read this article correctly I couldn't disagree more, putting Phil Jones in Midfield, is not a mark of respect to charlie adam, you must be having a laugh, and leaving out Nani, Rooney and Chicarito is not a mark of respect either its down right disrespectful. If Ferguson had played his strongest 11 United would have coasted against a team that got a fortunate goal because some has been brilliant but now past it player, jumped out of the way of the ball. This is two points thrown away by United. The substitutions were not in response to Liverpools goal, there were lined up before hand. It was a soft free kick, and a soft goal. You won't see united conceed many more like that this season I hope. It odes bad for liverpool that they couldn't beat a team with those players and that formation. United should have gone with Rooney and Hernandez up front from the start with Nani and young on the wings...But the didn't for some strange reason. It was only when Nani Rooney and Chico where on the field that united looked they would do any damage.
    As for your comment about the Noisy neighbours, I was pretty sure we had gotten past that last season, and yet here it is again this season. Yes United were negative, the season is long, this is there best start in a long time, and unless Ferguson is suffering from Alzheimers, I can only see United winning the league with the depth and class they have. Make no mistake, no matter what we think Ferguson is very happy with a point at Anfield, it's better than last season. This is what you should be looking at when you make your analysis. Overall United played a weakened team and Liverpool still couldn't beat them. I reckon United v City will be a corker.

  • Comment number 28.

    Apparently the BBC has censored the brackets in my last comment so I'll say it openly.

    Surely the allegations made against Suarez apparently making racist remarks to Evra deserves a mention?

    I stress again that these are purely allegations and Suarez seemingly has denied these allegations but surely it should be talked about?

  • Comment number 29.

    Of course Suarez did dive all over the place in this game, as is his nature, and as he does in every game. But on this occasion it was not a talking point because it did not decide the game.

  • Comment number 30.

    I think it's a point gained for United. They didn't deserve much from the performance today, but 10/12 points from Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Spurs, is title-winning form.

  • Comment number 31.

    I find it hilarious how quick Ferguson is to accuse Suarez of diving all over the place. Has he forgotten Ronaldo's antics?! Or the play-acting of Nani.

    People in glass houses...

  • Comment number 32.

    @The_soul_patch_of_David_Villa

    Calling Suarez an 'honest pro' is definitely the funniest comment of the day.

  • Comment number 33.

    I found Ferguson's tactics and team selection very strange.

    It was incredibly negative, against a Liverpool side who are very much in transition. Yes, they are strong at home and have good players but for a team with the ambition that United have, to set up so defensively away to their biggest rivals (according to Fergie) is inexplicable.

    Would Barcelona go to the Bernabeu to face Real Madrid and leave out Messi, Villa, Iniesta and Xavi? That is effectively what Ferguson did by benching Rooney, Hernandez, Nani and Carrick.

    It shows Ferguson is worried about his defence and he sacrificed attackers and creative midfielders to bolster it, and I think he's right to be- I think United's defence is currently all over the place. Jonny Evans is not a Utd quality defender in my view, Patrice Evra has become complacent at left back and I'm not convinced by Phil Jones or Chris Smalling defensively despite the praise they've had for being young and English.

    I think Utd really miss the stability that Vidic and Ferdinand, when on form and fully fit, give them. I also believe that the much-maligned Carrick is important to them when he's on form, much more than people realise. For the last four to five years the Ferdinand-Vidic-Carrick spine has been huge for Utd, and really given them a solidity that people haven't noticed when they've been praising Cristiano Ronaldo, Rooney, or Giggs for his longevity. But it's been important in their title wins and the 3 Champions League Finals they've reached.

    Further up, a guy mentions that there is something wrong with Utd's defence and midfield, and I believe that it is the loss of those three who have been normally giving Utd solidity, because of Ferdinand and Vidic's injury problems and Carrick's loss of form.

  • Comment number 34.

    "LIVERPOOL FAIL TO EXPLOIT MAN UTD NEGATIVITY"
    NEGATIVITY???? Are you serious?
    1. Every reasonable manager esp one with other options wouldn't start Rooney after the week that he had.
    2. Nani wouldn't put in any defensive shift, Fergie had an option in Park & he started him.
    3. Chicharito travelled miles to & fro for the friendly with Brazil, plus a wise manager would not even start him with the kind of atmosphere you get at anfield, Fergie did that.
    Now, even if Sir Alex was not faced with this dilemma listed above, were you actually expecting Utd
    to outplay 'pool "at Anfield"???

    Maybe i should thank God we don't have a Phil McNulty as the manager at Old Trafford. Sir Alex's plan was working, at least till Gerard scored which to him was unfortunate because his intent to attack and maybe sneak a win was evident with Nani & Rooney already abt to come on before the 'pool goal. So am kind of amazed you who just days ago tweeted that Utd's defence is too open now term Utd "negative" for protecting the defence against their fiercest rival, Funny world!

  • Comment number 35.

    @RedWristband

    Talked about by who?

  • Comment number 36.

    32. At 00:55 16th Oct 2011, SackedInTheMorning wrote:
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Luis is an honest pro. He's not going to go ground unless he's really felt it.

    Ferguson's attempted witch-hunt on Suarez is just an attempt to apportion blame to ''johnny foreigner'', diverting attention from fellow Glaswegian Charlie Adam's shocking dive.

  • Comment number 37.

    36. To soul patch, why would Ferguson want to protect another Liverpool player? Adam didn't dive anyway, Ferdinand admitted contact. He picked Suarez out because he is a player more prone to 'gamesmanship' than many others, and I'm sure most football fans would agree, it's nothing to do with his nationality.

  • Comment number 38.

    29. At 00:47 16th Oct 2011, TheFin10 wrote:

    Of course Suarez did dive all over the place in this game, as is his nature, and as he does in every game. But on this occasion it was not a talking point because it did not decide the game.
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    As I've already said, Luis is an honest pro who won't be on the deck unless he's really felt something.

    So, why does Alex Ferguson claim that Suarez was ''diving all over the place'' when the ''dive'' which led to Liverpool's goal came from Charlie Adam?

    If Alex Ferguson had a shred of honesty and fairness about him, then he'd openly criticise Glasgow-born ex-Rangers man, Charlie Adam, for his horrendous dive.

  • Comment number 39.

    @The_soul_patch_of_David_Villa

    I was particularly impressed with Suarez and his honesty when he stopped a certain goal with his hand in a World Cup semi final last year. Classy!

    I'm not denying he is a great player and a joy to watch, but calling him honest is a step too far. He rivals Nani when it comes to rolling around on the floor.

  • Comment number 40.

    @35 I'm referring to recent blogs aswell, in every blog there's usually some comments about how he only comments on the big four.

    Then he comments on a relegation 6 pointer and is accused of ignoring the top of the table.

  • Comment number 41.

    The worst dive in the game was Downing's, early on when Evra hadn't even touched him - although Evra didn't need to ask for the card, which wasn't good to see.

  • Comment number 42.

    The old cliche rings true: if you offered both managers a draw before the game then they would have unquestionably taken it. On the other hand Ferguson was taking a big risk with his team selection, intent on simply containing a decent Liverpool team on their home turf. But then who are we to question Ferguson? Praise most go to De Gea, who was left exposed at times but passed this huge test with flying colours. He was my Man of the Match ahead of Gerard, as well as he played.

  • Comment number 43.

    37. At 01:07 16th Oct 2011, Vox Populi wrote:

    36. To soul patch, why would Ferguson want to protect another Liverpool player?
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    What are Alex's national, city and club loyalties? Now what are Charlie's?

    You dig, ayyy?

  • Comment number 44.

    @RedWristband

    I wasn't referring to Phil's blogs, but to your comment about Evra's allegations.

  • Comment number 45.

    39. At 01:09 16th Oct 2011, SackedInTheMorning wrote:

    I was particularly impressed with Suarez and his honesty when he stopped a certain goal with his hand in a World Cup semi final last year. Classy!
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    What was ''dishonest'' about that?

    He committed the offence of ''deliberate handball'', an offence which you see thousands of times every season.

    There's no difference between Suarez's handball against Ghana and, for example, Stuart Pearce's same infraction against Switzerland in Euro 96.

  • Comment number 46.

    When's the replay Phil? Cup matches need a decisive result and as we all know this is Liverpool's cup final every year. For Utd it's just another game. Fergie chose to rest a number of his stars who were on international duty and experiment a little with Jones. He's got bigger fish to fry.

    All in all we saw what we already know. Liverpool, having won 4 out of 8 will probably challenge for 4th but need to be at their best to do it and they lack cutting edge. Utd will be challenging for the title and Fergie will use the depth of his squad to ensure that players can last the distance that competing to the end for all trophies on offer requires.

    Nothing new to discuss really other than to remind you Phil that games are won by scoring goals. You deserve the scorline you get and if it's a draw then neither team deserved to win.

    If Utd had gotton the soft free-kick and soft goal I suspect the incident would have been headline news and Dalglish would be whinging for a week about the referee.

  • Comment number 47.

    41. At 01:11 16th Oct 2011, Vox Populi wrote:

    The worst dive in the game was Downing's,
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Wash your mouth out with soapy water!

    English players simply do not dive; it's in their DNA not to. Of course, players like Rooney and Young ''go down a bit easily'', but that's not, I repeat, ''not'', diving!

  • Comment number 48.

    @44 Well various news outlets have the story now, on MOTD Lineker referred to allegations made by Evra and it's being spoken about by journalists on Twitter (not the greatest sign of a story I admit). I mean I'm a Liverpool fan but if there is any truth to this allegation then surely this deserves more media time than it's been given?

  • Comment number 49.

    Soul patch is taking this Suarez thing bit seriously. Are you his best mate or just got a chip on your shoulder about the treatment of foreign players.

  • Comment number 50.

    @The_soul_patch_of_David_Villa

    Maybe it's just me, but I don't associate blatant cheating with honesty, although I'm sure if the referee had missed the incident Suarez would have been quick to admit what he had done.

    To suggest Suarez isn't prone to simulation (I love that term) isn't just blinkered, it's plain wrong. No one is suggesting that he is the only player guilty of this, and accusing Ferguson of being xenophobic is actually rather distasteful. Hypocritical yes, xenophobic no.

  • Comment number 51.

    48. At 01:22 16th Oct 2011, RedWristband wrote:
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    If true, why would insalubrious comments made about Evra's skin colour be any worse than similarly insalubrious comments made about Paul ''Trafford trundler'' Scholes' hair colour?!

    Have you never played sport before? Many of the opposition players frequently goad you by making remarks which they think may ''touch a nerve''.

    Why are you even buying into the idea that mocking one person's particular physical trait is somehow worse than ridiculing another person's unrelated physical characteristic?

  • Comment number 52.

    50. At 01:30 16th Oct 2011, SackedInTheMorning wrote:

    I'm sure if the referee had missed the incident Suarez would have been quick to admit what he had done.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I'm sure that if the linesman misses the last boot/body which the ball came off before it left the field of play, then the players of both teams appealing for the throw-in/corner would be quick to admit who it came off last(!)

    Why the double standards?

  • Comment number 53.

    @The_soul_patch_of_David_Villa

    Wow! Did you just suggest that racism in sport is acceptable? I mean if he was just trying to "touch a nerve" that's fine.

    This coming from someone who was vilifying Ferguson for being xenophobic.

  • Comment number 54.

    @The_soul_patch_of_David_Villa

    How did I display anything resembling double standards? I'm not the one banding words like "honesty" around.

  • Comment number 55.

    @51 I have played sport before, and I have goaded people mostly on their lack of ability.

    And by no way am I allowing for some of the awful songs that fans chant, but surely when you are making alleged racist remarks to someone in order to goad them then that crosses a line doesn't it?

  • Comment number 56.

    49. At 01:29 16th Oct 2011, TheFin10 wrote:
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The diving incident stemmed from Glasgow-born, Rangers man Charlie Adam's theatrics. Why did Glasgow-born, Rangers man Alex Ferguson use his post match interview to criticise Suarez, rather than the player who dived to win the free-kick which led to Liverpool's goal?

    Things which make you go ''hmm''...

  • Comment number 57.

    53. At 01:36 16th Oct 2011, SackedInTheMorning wrote:
    @The_soul_patch_of_David_Villa

    Wow! Did you just suggest that racism in sport is acceptable?
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    What a lovely strawman! Has he got a name?

    Nowhere in my comment did I remotely suggest that racism in sport is ''acceptable''.

  • Comment number 58.

    @The_soul_patch_of_David_Villa

    I think you are mis-interpretting what Ferguson actually said. He stated that the free-kick was soft but then suggested that with players like Suarez diving so frequently that it makes the referees job more difficult.

  • Comment number 59.

    Didier drogba was rightly labelled a diver, but luis suarez has taken it onto an even further level.

  • Comment number 60.

    55. At 01:39 16th Oct 2011, RedWristband wrote:

    but surely when you are making alleged racist remarks to someone in order to goad them then that crosses a line doesn't it?
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Why? What line?

  • Comment number 61.

    @60 The line where it ceases to be gamesmanship and 'banter' ( I hate that word) and begins to be abuse?

    Surely you can't think that allegedly racialist abuse of someone is ok, comparing it to teasing over red hair and such?

  • Comment number 62.

    It's only a matter of time before the refs cop swarez....:0) ........He will get more than one red card before the end of season I bet.

  • Comment number 63.

    54. At 01:37 16th Oct 2011, SackedInTheMorning wrote:

    How did I display anything resembling double standards? I'm not the one banding words like "honesty" around.
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    When you are holding up a breach of the laws of the game, ie. ''deliberate handball'' as a worse offence if it is committed at a crunch time in the game, rather than the thousands of other times the same offence is committed every season.

  • Comment number 64.

    Post 51. and 60. Soul patch, if that was supposed to be funny along with the rest of your posts then that was well wide of the mark.

    As far as I'm aware, ginger-haired people have never been subjected to genocide or slavery based on their 'physical characteristics'. The comparison is spurious. Abuse of someone based on colour of skin and ethnic origin can never be justified. Is it fine to 'goad' someone based on the colour of their skin at your workplace?

    The FA and Premier League are apparently intent on kicking racism out of football, well if certain allegations that have been made can be substantiated then they need to prove that isn't just a PR soundbite.

  • Comment number 65.

    61. At 01:59 16th Oct 2011, RedWristband wrote:
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Once again, suggesting that I believe that racist abuse is ''OK'', is just a strawman argument. I think he's called Roger, by the way. :)

    I'm questioning why goading someone about one physical, genetic characteristic is somehow worse than goading someone else about another physical, genetic characteristic.

  • Comment number 66.

    64. At 02:01 16th Oct 2011, Vox Populi wrote:

    As far as I'm aware, ginger-haired people have never been subjected to genocide or slavery based on their 'physical characteristics'
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    As far as I'm aware, no professional footballer has ever been subjected to genocide or slavery based on chants made about their physical characteristics inside a football stadium.

  • Comment number 67.

    65.At 02:04 16th Oct 2011, The_soul_patch_of_David_Villa wrote:
    I'm questioning why goading someone about one physical, genetic characteristic is somehow worse than goading someone else about another physical, genetic characteristic.
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I think it's time for you to go to bed, if you're in any way an intelligent person I cannot believe how you can even ask that.

  • Comment number 68.

    66.At 02:06 16th Oct 2011, The_soul_patch_of_David_Villa wrote:
    64. At 02:01 16th Oct 2011, Vox Populi wrote:

    As far as I'm aware, ginger-haired people have never been subjected to genocide or slavery based on their 'physical characteristics'
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    As far as I'm aware, no professional footballer has ever been subjected to genocide or slavery based on chants made about their physical characteristics inside a football stadium.
    ====================================================

    You really are being an idiot, and extremely offensive.

  • Comment number 69.

    68. At 02:08 16th Oct 2011, Vox Populi wrote:
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    What's ''offensive'' about my comment?

    Are you personally ''offended'' or are you just hitting out because of emotion?

  • Comment number 70.

    ManU looked vulnerable and beatable, but I'd be surprised if they don't win it all. After all, the EPL has been pretty much a one-horse race since its inception, with a few exceptions here and there. I think SAF is so obsessed with beating Barcelona that he's forgotten he has to take care of business at home too.

  • Comment number 71.

    @65 I never implied that you think racist abuse is ok.

    Your argument though seems to suggest it's nothing outrageous to racially abuse someone on the basis that other types of sportsmanship occur and that there's loads of abuse that is dished out on the pitch.

  • Comment number 72.

    71. At 02:20 16th Oct 2011, RedWristband wrote:
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    It's no more outrageous to racially abuse someone than it is to personally abuse them for another physical trait.

    I'm against all personal abuse of this kind amongst sports players and fans.

  • Comment number 73.

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

  • Comment number 74.

    So another "alleged" racist remark directed at Paddy Evra.
    If the FA follows it's previous history when the same thing happened at Chelsea...Paddy is looking at a 4 match ban for being a victim!

  • Comment number 75.

    74. At 02:37 16th Oct 2011, 1878onwards wrote:
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Then again, perhaps Patrice's ''allegations'' are like the parable of ''the boy who cried wolf''.

  • Comment number 76.

    @The_soul_patch_of_David_Villa

    I never mentioned the fact that it was in the last minute of extra time, but I do happen to think that committing the offence at that point is worse than others, and that's not double standards. Deliberate handball is obviously never justifiable, but the fact remains that at the moment he did that he literally denied the team a place in a world cup semi final. The offence may be the same in the "thousands" of other situations you refer to, but the repercussions are not.

  • Comment number 77.

    I think The_soul_patch_of_David_Villa needs a life instead of looking to wind people up...get lost go back to spain

  • Comment number 78.

    He's not winding me up. I'm actually quite enjoying our conversation. He is articulate, and not saying anything to deliberately upset people. It's ok to have differences of opinion you know, that's what debate is all about.

  • Comment number 79.

    Phil,

    Sorry to bring this up on your blog a I don't think you wrote the article but why are the bbc entertaining the comments by Ferguson that it was a "soft free kick and the boy Suarez dives all over the place> anyone who watched the game knows that the fowl was committed against Charlie Adam. Obviously Ferguson is commenting on something he didn't see but I cant understand why the bbc are not correcting this in the article, guess it's more of a story to accuse Suarez of diving or do they not want to contradict Ferguson in case he decides to not speak with them any more?

  • Comment number 80.

    @rbrooke

    Ferguson wasn't suggesting that it was Suarez who was fouled for the free kick, but that with players diving like Suarez that it is difficult for referees to make the right decisions.

  • Comment number 81.

    Dire from United. Hate to see them play so negatively. What happened to the team that blew away Arsenal and Tottenham?

  • Comment number 82.

    Little boy suarez only insulted gutted Evra with his skills

  • Comment number 83.

    Little boy Suarez only insulted Evra with his skills and that is Very much allowed

  • Comment number 84.

    @27
    Its actually funny how you first think that liverpool should have beaten the team that was put forward. Then after a few sentences you think these very players are world beaters when you say "with the depth and class they have". Riducls nd funy

  • Comment number 85.

    @various united supporters and one sir alex who believe suarez is a diver.. so what?? it is part of the game.. it is a skill which has returns and losses.. you can get booked and you can win free kicks.. but then i am just a liverpool fan saying what you guys used to say in ronaldo's era

  • Comment number 86.

    Phil McNulty,
    a good student grasps the key issues in a lecture. A good football journalist can't grasp the key details in a football match even after it's completed. That's all I understood by reading this article.

    SAF had to up the importance of this fixture because Manchester United had interests. Last time round, United were overrun and losing the match before the competion of the first half. This time, Liverpool created nothing in the first half.

    I don't know where the anti-United world sees "Liverpool created enough to run away with a win". Overall, 25% of the game was in United's half, 25% in Liverpool's and 50% in midfield. Liverpool created 2 excelent opportunities at the death but during the match Suarez was silenced, Enrique and Downing found out that Smalling is faster than them and the United defense that so many so as the Achiles in this match was more than comfortable.

    As the match was progressing, clouds were arriving to Liverpool supporters' and friends' minds about the United bench: Rooney, Chicharito, Nani all there, fresh and available to come with fresh legs and hit Liverpool when running would take the toll on the brilliant Gerrard's legs. It almost happened.

    Througout the match, Liverpool created mighty little. Had it not been for the Giggs error due to overthinking, Liverpool wouldn't have scored even the one goal they managed from a spot kick that was debateable.

    Kenny Dalglish saw a penalty when a shot from 3 yards found a non overstretched Evans arm, close to his body but didn't see another incident, very similar on the other end. And this epitomised a good refereeing performance by Mariner(? - he was so good that he isn't remembered neither mentioned which is the benchmark for a good refereeing performance).

    Mysteriously, many were asking for Ferdinand to be sent off for a mere touch on Adam who dived brilliantly as Evans was in front of him before De Gea. The "boy" Suarez got away with kicking Evra right on the bone of his knee in front of the assistant referee and Evra was yellow carded in the process. And these two incidents were the only debateable decisions on a match viewed by a few 100s of millions around the world.

    Liverpool were good. Steven Gerrard came with flying colours, lasting the whole match which is to his credit. They still had Bellamy and Carroll on the bench but, comparing the benches shows the distance between the sides in terms of squad quality. Liverpool got away with their defensive defficiencies - they have to find a replacement for the aging Carragher while, in almost every time Scrtel was involved in the game, he was getting away with a push to the opponent.

    This match showed that Liverpool are well on the way of coming back to top four. They're improving but need to complete the process of bringing quality players to Merseyside. Thank God Suarez has come good for them because their fans have been tiring the football world with their Torres antics for ages.

    Also, the match showed that the new kids on the block for United (De Gea, Smalling, Jones, Welbeck [and Cleverley]) are already shaping the new era in Manchester United in glazing fashion.

    I am sure Alan Hansen must be eating the paper where he wrote his notes about his certainty on Liverpool winning yesterday. He's become quite graphical, expressing his non-bias expertise on the Liverpool uprising :)

  • Comment number 87.

    United deserved their point. The game was typically edgy and tight with very few real chances before Gerrard's fortunate goal. United then dominated possession with the equaliser coming as a result of the pressure. Liverpool might have nicked it late on but it would have been harsh when looking at the game in its entirety.

    As for Fergie's team selection, stopping a run three defeats in the league at Anfield shows that he got his tactics right, whatever Phil McNulty or Alan Hansen may think. The likes of Park and Fletcher had the work rate that was required whilst Danny Welbeck again impressed me with his movement and strength for one so young.

  • Comment number 88.

    No, it isn't a mystery why everybody keeps talking about SAF leaving out of the starting line up Rooney, Chicharito and Nani. It isn't a mystery because not everybody can think about the whole picture in a frame of 10 football days, as their mind is restricted to a single match. Could be a brain deficiency but I can't really tell.

    The fact is, though, that Manchester United have to win midweek in a Champions League fixture, having drawn the first two matches. Surely, everybody outside Manchester would love to see both Manchester sides failing to get past the group phase of Champions League this season.

    After the midweek Champions League match, weekend arrives and Manchester United have a must-win Grand Derby at home against Man City who are stamping their status in the Premiership even more, each coming week.

    I had been mystified with a Manchester side's team selection at Anfield last season. But it was City's visit at Anfield where City rested half their team but that was strange because the next City match was 8 days later on. If there is a mystery about yesterday's match, the mystery is why people can't see the full picture. It's blatant clear.

  • Comment number 89.

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

  • Comment number 90.

    @ 89. At 07:34 16th Oct 2011, LFCinCA,

    I don't see where United fans argue that United sent the B' team at Anfield yesterday. SAF put the right team for the start of the game and left big weapons to come in as substitutes. All in all, it shows that he was fully aware of the Liverpool threat to the United cause. Even in the pre-match interview he clearly stated the importance of the match for Manchester United.

    You are spot on in reminding all of us about Ronaldo's antics. Even if I love him as a player, that part of his game is something I think belittles him and he was driving me sick to my stomach with his theatrics.

    Yet, Ferdinand did touch Adam but was it a second yellow card incident? Adam won the foul and good luck to him.

    As for Suarez, didn't you watch the replay that I watched, showing he kicked Evra high on the knee when he lost the ball, a minute or two prior to Evra's yellow card?
    Having said that, I did admire a few of his tricks, creating havoc with close ball control in the United box. I'm really glad you lot have found a great striker in him. I just wish Carroll comes to full fitness because I strongly believe he can come good for Liverpool and will shut many mouths, just like De Gea has done.

    As a football fan looking at Liverpool yesterday, I saw good things in your team:
    - Lucas has been good again and I'm glad Liverpool didn't offload him when everybody at Liverpool were asking for it;
    - Enrique and Kelly are coming good week in, week out;
    - had Henderson's lob attempt been a few inches higher, everybody would be talking about a great goal scored by your very good signing;
    - Suarez was again threat #1 in your attack, displaying tricks football fans would pay the ticket just to watch them when they come;
    - (and) Steven Gerrard was immense yesterday. It takes a great player to last the distance the way he did yesterday. It's good to see him back to his best, having overcome an 8 months(?) injury period.

    After the completion of the match, my mind went to Chelsea and Manchester City visiting Anfield this season. I'm certain it won't be fun for them visiting Anfield. Liverpool are coming back and this is to the credit of both your manager and the chairman. I just hope, for your sake, to solve your ground capasity issue because it's an important attribute for Liverpool as a top English club.

    The detail about the match that has been overlooked by most is that Liverpool haven't lost the core of their worldwide friends/supporters despite being in the sidelines for some 20 years.

  • Comment number 91.

    The facts as i saw them;

    It was 1-1

    The game was poor spectacle for Football

    Again a player from man u failed to get his marching orders after a second
    bookable offence

    Evra is a good actor

    Non of the teams in the CL latter stages will fear taking on man u

    and as for the sky presenters comment " biggest game on the Planet " what a load of sycophantic nonsense from both him and the three stores on the couch.

    all in all a dire game officiated by a referee with selective vision

    Amen.

  • Comment number 92.

    @ 91. At 08:01 16th Oct 2011, HAHA CharadeYouAre,

    It is two blogger who I find entertaining in these blogs: you and the main man, that Spanish football patch :)

    If Ferdinand deserved to be sent off yesterday, half the Arsenal team should be sent off, week in week out, as Mr Arsene is trying to play it 'tough' seeing the inability to produce that flowing passing game Arsenal lost when they lost Fabregas and Nasri. How many times, every time Arsenal play, do you watch Song raising his arms up declaring he's done nothing wrong?

    Evra is a great full back and I can understand why he makes you sick that a French manager in your team bought only his shadow to Arsenal for only to also see leaving your club for a better future.

    The latter stages of CL are for teams that will progress to the latter stages. Will Arsenal do? As a football fan in England I hope you do but have my doubts - Olympiakos were the better team at The Emirates in your last CL game.

    The Sky presenters showed the most important pub in NYC opening while still dark with queues of custommers waiting for it to open in order to watch a Premier League match. They also showed a similar spot from Singapore (chosen from a number of destinations in the Far East). I found it surprising and nice to view and it only shows that Premier League is widely viewed worldwide - something we know due to the money it generates but it is always nice to have instant proof with such presentations. I can't understand why you find it a sychophantic nonsense but, after all, you're a confused Arsenal fan striving for B.E.P (Break Even Point - in case I confused you).

    All in all, a game that could go either way - Liverpool wanted it more, United could but didn't show but it kept viewers hooked on their seats until the final whistle.

  • Comment number 93.

    @7 Soul_ wrote:
    Phil, I think you mean that Alex Ferguson was auditioning for a gig at the Hammersmith Apollo with his wisecrack about the Manchester United v Liverpool fixture being bigger than El Clásico.

    That would have certainly had them rolling in the aisles.
    -----------------------------------------
    Suarez? Honest pro?
    Are you on next after Fergie?
    Top stuff.
    Your comparison of genocide with 'ginger haired' abuse will go down well.
    (Have a quick glance of the colour of the faces in the crowd first though.)

    I've had this debate with you before on previous blogs about racism and ginger hair and here you go again with the same rubbish. Not even your brothers in arms nibs and Rob04 are supporting you on this one! Can you not see why??

  • Comment number 94.

    you lot talking about suarez like he contributed to the match apart from diving, Smalling and Ferdinand had him in thier Pocket, he would never get 15 league goals a season let alone 20. if i wanted tricks i'll watch Quaresma who has tricks but like suarez little end product. Gerrard bar the goal was not seen how was he Man of the match? Dea Gea was always good even against City he was good. Liverfool are not top four material. And no matter how you try to quote it Ferguson put out a weak team, No Nani, Rooney, Anderson and Henandez who are the spin of the United Form this season. Well the League is ours now cos only Man City to play then our Attack will Stroll past the rest. Liverfool still cant Win a top 10 opposition with 11 men, their only victory was against 10 men even sunderland who finished 10th held them. Phil and Hansen should be fired. Mark Lawro said 1-1, it ended like that. BBC Pundits should all be fired Liverfool and Chelski ex players ruining football blogs and broadcasting for us

  • Comment number 95.

    Ferguson's comments are typical os the arrogance in Ensglish football. He talks about Liverpool - United as being the 'biggest club game in the world'. not even close.

    1) Barcelona - Real Madrid - this is number one. why? Not only is it because Barcelona is the best team in the world. This match encapsulates the complexities of Spanish culture, the seperatist agenda in Catalunya, and the history of the civil war and the years of war during which the two regions were on opposite sides. When this match is played, Spain stops - everyone stops. You have to be there to understand it.

    2) River Plate vs Boca Juniors (argentina). Again the whole nation is divided. 35 million people will have an opinion. Beunos Aires (15 million population) is paralysed. Again this is a battle allabout cultural divides and hate - River Plate are the team of the middle classes, Boca from the working class docklands.

    3) Vasco de Gama vs Flamengo (Brazil) This is the battle of Rio de Janeiro - Flamengo is on of the most successful clubs in history and has a following of some 30 million fans. Matches are sometimes played in the maracana stadium - which now seats 85,000, but at one point held 200,000. Again the nation stops.

    Sorry sir Alex,there is a world of 'futbol' beyond the UK. You think of Englsih football and the premier league as being the best in the world. You should know that in most other countries the premier league is seen as somewhere players go to get rich, and the English national team are laughed at as most of the players cant get a game in their own club sides. There is no club match in this country that will clear the streets of traffic. In Buenos Aires if there is a goal in the derby, you will hear millions cheering in their homes and on their balconies...

  • Comment number 96.

    The only team playing better than Man United this season is Bayern Munich, Nuff Said. Soul Patch you are Racist

  • Comment number 97.

    Phil, I know that it is your job to write but sometimes, when there is nothing to write about, it is better not to. This game was talked up so much - it was even said to be bigger than Real v Barcelona. Well, I was duped into watching it and what a dissapointment!! The match was paionfully dull, the quality dire, unbelievable! Then I watched half of the Barcelona match later in the evening and got some hope back that football is still beautyful in some places. The EPL maybe the most commercialised and watched leage in the world, but you can not escape the fact that, qualitywise, it is a heap of rubbish.

  • Comment number 98.

    @robmbaboy
    Like Ferguson Said Chelsea were his Biggest Rivals and like he would say next league game against City will be the best ever. Thats just to talk up your opponent before the game. I remember Fergie last season Saying Uniteds Main Rivals are Chelsea before a Chelsea game. Its just like Xavi saying Paul Scholes is the best Midfielder of all time before a United Game. Its more of mind games than anything else.

  • Comment number 99.

    @ a wet night at stoke
    it was Racing Satander who are equivilent to Wigan, United would play better at home against Wigan than how Barca Played. besides a Barca Liverpool match at Anfield now will also be boring to watch because Dalglish will go back to 6 Defenders.

  • Comment number 100.

    Man Utd has now played 4 out of the 5 top teams that could poses any threat to its title challenge getting 3wins & 1draw. A win against City next Sunday at Old Trafford takes us above them & City is yet to play 'Pool, Chelsea & Arsenal. Can you now see how Sir Alex won 12 out of 19titles? He is a strategist, he knew that not losing yesterday was all the more important when viewing things on a larger scale.
    Utd faithfuls, you will thank Sir Alex once again come May while haters will as usual look on with envy.

 

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