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Brief fans' exchange should not overshadow fitting tribute

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Phil McNulty | 06:23 UK time, Monday, 24 September 2012

At Anfield
The mosaics had been removed and the 96 red balloons had long since flown away from Anfield when the truce agreed in exchange for decency was briefly broken.

Liverpool and Manchester United - the clubs and their supporters - offered up so much that was good on a day when the separation between unity brought by injustice and tribalism associated with a football match was marked by clearly defined lines.

The old differences between English football's two most successful clubs were put to one side in support of the families and victims of the Hillsborough disaster which claimed 96 lives at the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest in 1989.

The release of the findings of an independent panel that cleared Liverpool's fans of blame and exposed a cover-up allowed these fiercest of rivals to find common ground. They stood firmly upon it as they met in the Premier League at Anfield on Sunday.

It was a day heavily laden with poignancy and only seriously marred in the minutes after the final whistle when Anfield was deserted except for a few stray Liverpool fans and the Manchester United supporters kept behind.

Manchester United legend Sir Bobby Charlton presented flowers to Liverpool's record goalscorer Ian Rush as a tribute. Photo: Reuters

Manchester United legend Sir Bobby Charlton presented flowers to Liverpool's record goalscorer Ian Rush as a tribute. Photo: Reuters

Even this weight of emotion did not stop a brief exchange that prevents us from declaring this occasion the unqualified success all right-thinking Liverpool and Manchester United people had hoped it would be.

Apparently provoked by Liverpool fans making aeroplane gestures in relation to the 1958 Munich air crash, United's supporters responded loudly with the antagonistic chorus: "Always the victims - It's never your fault."

It went almost as soon as it came, but was audible enough to create a stir and take just a little of the gloss off a day that otherwise reflected so much credit on these two great clubs.

This was a moment for commemorating those who died at Hillsborough, the loved ones they left behind and their continuing fight for justice after winning the right to hear the truth.

And, despite that bitter exchange in a near-deserted Anfield, it must not be allowed to overshadow so much of what went before. The famous stadium reflected the tone of empathy and respect required, but also managed to fit in a typically frantic and fiercely contested game that was somewhat fortuitously won 2-1 by United.

This was how it should have been.

The work of Liverpool and United in the build-up and the manner in which Sir Alex Ferguson embraced the mood was exemplary. The Scot soon reverted to the role of Anfield's enemy as he was on the receiving end of needless finger-jabbing rebuke from Liverpool's Jonjo Shelvey after his red card but there will be renewed, although perhaps unspoken, respect for the Scot on Merseyside now.

Liverpool put perfectly pitched ceremonials in place to mark the day while Ferguson spoke of the importance of respect, had a letter handed to United's fans on arrival at Anfield and stood alongside his Anfield opposite number Brendan Rodgers in a pre-match interview to underscore the message.

United's followers, packed into their familiar corner of Anfield Road, applauded warmly on several occasions as Liverpool acknowledged the landmark developments of the last 10 days.

And United's determination to play their part was illustrated instantly when they emerged with the number "96" emblazoned on the back of their tracksuits. Patrice Evra and Luis Suarez this time shook hands without hesitation following the Uruguayan's refusal at Old Trafford last season after he was found guilty of racially abusing the defender.

Against the charged backdrop of the mosaics "The Truth" on The Kop and "Justice" along the length of the Centenary Stand, two legends whose great deeds will be forever written into the history of Liverpool and United took centre stage.

Sir Bobby Charlton felt the warmth of Anfield as he handed flowers to former Liverpool striker Ian Rush and opposing captains Steven Gerrard and Ryan Giggs released the symbolic balloons.

Even the kick-off was respectfully held up as Anfield resounded to a version of "You'll Never Walk Alone" that seemed to carry even more than the usual volume and significance.

After subdued early exchanges, a roar suddenly rose from the Kop in recognition that a sporting battle had been declared - and from then on normal football business was resumed.

If Liverpool were hoping to offer extra comfort to their supporters with victory it was not to be, defeat leaving them without a win in Rodgers's first five league games and in the bottom three.

Fittingly it was captain Gerrard who gave them the lead, clutching at his Liverpool badge and signalling towards the heavens, thoughts perhaps with his 10-year-old cousin Jon-Paul Gilhooley, who died at Hillsborough.

By this time Shelvey had gone for a reckless red card and Liverpool were up against a numerical disadvantage and a United side that had moved up a gear from mediocre to average.

Rafael's brilliant curling equaliser was followed by Robin van Persie's late penalty that left Rodgers insisting referee Mark Halsey had done Liverpool a major disservice by penalising Glen Johnson for his challenge on Antonio Valencia.

The win Liverpool wanted for so many reasons was not forthcoming but there were signs of promise in this performance. The Rodgers philosophy is clear to see but this is a philosophy with a missing page.

For all the passing that Rodgers is keen to preach, it is no use to a team without a punch and this appears to be something he will not be able to solve until January. Displays against Manchester City and United have brought things to admire but only one point. Not good enough.

Ferguson was honest enough to recognise the paucity of United's performance, but he will take wins at Anfield all day every day and worry about the quality later.

This was a day when so many other things mattered apart from the football - although that mattered enough - and Liverpool and Manchester United, as well as the vast majority of their supporters, ensured they were all well served.


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  • Comment number 1.

    Anfield was as powerful as it ever has been in recent years. This was a day not worthy of being ruined by talk of referees and the like.

  • Comment number 2.

    As usual at Anfield the referee had a shocking game apparently... the tackle from Shelvey was a certain red card. Prior to his sending off Liverpool completely dominated a poor United side, I still think Van Persie needs a partner up front to be at his best! Great result for United and a huge three points when it comes to tallying up at the end of the year!

  • Comment number 3.

    "Apparently" provoked? There were lots of witnesses to the plane gestures

  • Comment number 4.

    and lets also forget the tweets to the referees son wishing for the return of his cancer... because it was from liverpool fans not United.

  • Comment number 5.

    Whatever the rights and wrongs of a few idiots exchanging a few belated tasteless insults, it was overwhelmingly a credit-worthy occasion and nice to see an article focussing purely on the important aspects of the day, not debatable decisions or will-they-wont-they handshakes

  • Comment number 6.

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  • Comment number 7.

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  • Comment number 8.

    The ref didn't have that bad a game, the only big decision he got wrong was deciding only to send Shelvey off. Evans should have gone too, but I think the ref was swayed by the fact Evans was hurt. Then Shelvey's reaction to Ferdinand really didn't help his case either, not to mention the things he said to Ferguson as he went off.

    On the topic of the occasion, did I mishear things or did the United fans sing "Stand up for the 96" at around 20 minutes in the game? I can find no mention of it, yet I'm certain the massive round of applause from the Liverpool fans was because of that gesture.

    It's a pity a tiny minority from both sides tried to ruin the day, but why do the media always, without fail, focus on the few muppets that do something bad instead of on the 40,000 that behaved brilliantly? It's always the way. I don't think the media actually WANTED a perfect day, then they'd have nothing to whinge about at the end with regards to fans.

  • Comment number 9.

    I thought United were awful and got out of jail big time. Liverpool played well and deserved something from the game overall. It will be interesting if they don't beat Norwich next.

  • Comment number 10.

    Overall played in a good atmosphere, a relief.

    Liverpool are not far from being a good team. It's the goalscorer problem still. I'd play Morgan or Yesil up front now, it can't hurt and the experience would help them. Or else go 4-5-1 and ask midfielders for goals. Liverpool's midfield looks extremely good, even with 10 men they matched United and for periods dominated them. There's promise there, and we shouldn't panic: the wins will come.

  • Comment number 11.

    sports writer of the year,phil mcnulty , has incorrectly stated that LIVERPOOL FC have only won 59 cups, check your facts phil, its 65 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 12.

    Before the match, I felt proud to be a Manchester United supporter. We all witnessed that, in the face of tragedies, bitter, arch-rivalries can become dust and people can unite with ease. And so it should be because football is a sport and not life itself.

    During the match, I found myself in a Sherlock Holmes role, trying to find out where United were hiding. Because Liverpool were playing great against some players in white shirts and black shorts who had no desire to run first to the ball and looked as though they were loving to pass possession to their opponents.

    After the match, which has been the luckiest of all escapes, I felt embarrassed as a United supporter. Liverpool should have won. United deserved nothing out of this game and had to thank a ludicrous Shelvey moment, so unfit for this sad day, for taking numerical advantage and then Johnson for not stopping Valencia with a foul (for the team) in midfield and allowed him to win a penalty.

    All in all, yesterday, from the so-called Premier League elite only Arsenal played football and it was great to watch. United, Chelsea and City all got unjust points.

  • Comment number 13.

    The fact this incident occurred is such a shame. Both clubs tried their hardest to hammer the message home that it is now time to stop with none football related insults, but as always, morons (not football fans, they do not deserve that acknowledgement) ruined the event and left a sour taste.

    If what is report is correct, those Liverpool fans who made those horrible gestures towards the United fans should be identified and banned from Anfield, Old Trafford and as far as I am concerned, any other football ground for life. As a Liverpool fan it makes me really angry they let the club down and did so in such a sneaky way (after the game) hoping they would not to get caught. They are low life cowards. For the United fans who reacted, they too should also hang their heads in shame. An adult, or any self respecting adult, would have looked the other way. Instead they too let their club down and lowered themselves to the level of those idiots (the idiot Liverpool fans making the gestures towards them) and no matter what the truth, the media will be negative for United.

    Anyway, back to what we should be talking about, the football! Liverpool are clearly a work in progress, but we are clearly getting better as we understand the new system and are able to apply it. On some occasions the football is great to watch and it is a real shame we are struggling to find the end product.

    I was pleased to see Suso come off the bench and bar the pass that led to the goal, he played well and the through ball to Suarez in the 18 yard box was excellent. I hope this Wednesday we see the same starting team that we saw against Young Boys.

    United were off colour for the second game in a row. They will come back as they have to much strength and depth.

  • Comment number 14.

    I can't help thinking that, had Liverpool spent on players who give on the pitch as much as Susso and Sterling gave yesterday and had them on the team, we all would be talking about £40m - £50m well spent. These two kids seem to have a great future at Liverpool.

    Spurs had only two points prior to their visit at Reading. A week later, they have eight. The important detail for Liverpool is they're playing good football. Points will come.

    To me, the biggest news about Liverpool has been this alleged report on Henry investing £150m on a refurbishment of Anfield that will increase its capacity to 60,000 seats. Amen to that and it's already 10 years late.

  • Comment number 15.

    Can quite believe we won that. Completely undeserved but of course like any fan I will take the three points.

    My gut reaction on first viewing were that it was a red and it was a penalty, on second viewings not so sure about either.

    I will say that that if Suarez learnt to stay on his feet more often I am sure he would have had a penalty, but because of his 'reputation' for the theatrical he seems to be losing Liverpool more points than he is gaining them at the moment. (and I also acknowledge that Manchester United has its fair share of cheats too before someone use's that old chestnut )

  • Comment number 16.

    Oh yeah, any fans be them Manchester United or Liverpool fans who make the kind of gestures (and or) chants like being reported should be banned for life from all football stadiums.

    and frankly with CCTV in stadiums in out league(s) there is no excuse for not doing it.

  • Comment number 17.

    Barring the few morons the supporters behaved well. Think the ref will be a bit disapppointed with a few of his decisions when he sees them back but I'm surprised at the lacklustre way Man U went about the game. They could very well have been on the receiving end of a big score and just seemed to accept that they were on the back front. Little pressure on the ball and when they did win it back the passing and decisions were awful. The obvious bright spot were that they were terrible and still won but Ferguson won't want to many more performances like that as they may not get the rub of the green as they did yesterday.

  • Comment number 18.

    The Sky cameras were firmly on Evra for the handshake bit. You could almost feel the director/producers disappointment when it went without incident. Lets never speak of it again. Liverpool were very unlucky - credit to them. Between yesterday and the City game there are signs of a top four team. It feels like SAF has let another summer go past by signing the kind of midfielder they just don't need (Kagawa).

  • Comment number 19.

    On the football side, Liverpool fans, myself included, are really annoyed about the result, the ref's inconsistency regarding red for Shelvey, nothing for Evans and yellow for van Persie for very similar actions, and of course the penalty given for nothing much. However, that's standard football procedure and that's what we should be talking about. Not about the mindless moron brigade on both sides who contrived to smear a very special occasion. The sad fact about football is that it attracts this type of lowlife and every club has them. Why can't the press and everyone else simply ignore them and concetrate on the impeccable behaviour of the vast majority at Anfield yesterday? The football alone provides more than enough material to argue about.

  • Comment number 20.

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  • Comment number 21.

    I thought fans on both sides were excellent, if no-one mentioned the handful of idiots the media would stop reporting it.

    As for the decisions, Shelvey red, definite pen for United, 50-50 for Liverpool, Evans got lucky to stay on.

    The fact they had to go to super slow-mo and a magnifying glass to show Evans touch Suarez first shows to me it's not a penalty. This is a contact sport after all.

    No idea how Liverpool fans are saying Shelvey shouldnt have been sent off. If you do a scissor challenge you are only doing it to break someones leg, there is no other reason on this planet for doing it. Evans was also two footed but got 'lucky' in the fact Shelvey caught him half way up his leg.

    Awful performances from the entire midfield, espeically Nani and Giggs. We must play Cleverley to inject some pace into the midfield. Then again 3 points away from home after champs league game is all you can ask for.

  • Comment number 22.

    United were very lucky to come away with 3 points here and are yet to fire on all cylinders yet. Nani's performance being extremely poor, followed by Evra. IMO the ref got all the major decisions right, Shelvey was a definite red card as he lunged in and never got the ball, look at Evans eyes, they were all on the ball. There was contact with Suarez by Evans but not enough to bring him down, notice how quickly he got back up to get the ball when it was loose. In terms of Uniteds penalty, Johnson never touched the ball and never demonstarted after it was given.
    On the tributes, nice touch, and good to see the clubs come together for the occasion.

  • Comment number 23.

    Phil, I can't believe that you have hyped up the tiny exchange between a few liverpool and united fans which wasnt really seen - when for the massive majority of the day both sets of fans behaved themselves and respected the occasion. The media seems to love to focus on the negative when the fact of the matter is that united fans respected the liverpool fans and vice versa - something which is astounding considering the recent history. Journalism at its most manipulative.

  • Comment number 24.

    Looks like the overwhelming majority of supporters were decent and respectful as the occasion demanded. Is it too much to hope that this now becomes the norm rather the exception when these two sides meet? After all, life and death is definitely more important than football.

    As for the match, speaking as a neutral, Liverpool certainly deserved something from the game. In my opinion, I thought Mike Halsey did not show consistency when making the big decisons.
    Van Persie's late lunge, which only got a yellow card, was on a par with Shelvey's and for me Valencia was already off balance and falling when Johnson clipped him. But to err is human and to forgive divine.
    The controversies did not take centre stage and I feel reaction to them was more muted than it may have been on another day, which is only right in view of what the day was really all about.

  • Comment number 25.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 26.

    Let's put Shelvey's tackle & reaction after in apologising down to the emotion of the occasion, otherwise we'll get more unpleasantness.

    The emotion of the occasion left us flat, and if you knew of Denis Law's thoughts watching our first game after Munich(as a Huddersfield player who'd bought a 10shilling ticket for £50 to see it from the terraces) or Albert Quixall's, as captain of our opponents that night(Sheff. Wed.), you'll know why Utd won 3-0 & Wednesday just wanted the 90 mins over with.

    And that's just how it was for us yesterday, feeling like unwanted invitees to a wake(not that LFC can be faulted for that feeling).

    Glad the day went well & hope they now do get justice about the evident criminal conspiracy to blame them for Hillsborough, because that disgusts me.

    Thought the ref handled it well,Halsey is a very sympathetic ref and doesn't brandish red cards for the sake of it, only mistake was carding RVP at all, because it was a clean one-footed sliding tackle than got the ball, and you can't do that with your studs on the deck.

  • Comment number 27.

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  • Comment number 28.

    26: Think Shelvey should get an extra game or two on the sidelines; he may have felt hard done to but players should accept the decisions made by the ref even if they feel it's completely unfair. It's a bad example to set and could have provoked a reaction from the crowd etc. Can't really agree with the fact Halsey only made one mistake though, he had a bad game but you can't have a good one every time.

  • Comment number 29.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 30.

    I believe the official Manchester United acted in an amicable way all week long with regard to the Hillsborough disaster. Furthermore, the United supporters have acted in a similar fashion too, with Manchester United Supporters Trust official members participating in events with Liverpool counterparts, towards a unified presence of the two clubs' fans yesterday. The vast majority of United fans acted in the same framework and it was there to see.

    Every club has "that" minority of brainless idiots who respect nothing. At times I'm wondering whether they're drifters who find the umbrella of a football club to get that sense of belonging somewhere. We shouldn't be talking about that United minority though, neither about that Liverpool minority, neither about any other club's such minority. Then, they come out and read that people are talking about them and they get this false sense that they've done something important.

    Ignoring them completely is what we have to do. And perhaps I shouldn't have spent the two minute time slot to post this view too. It is because we all should ignore such individuals completely.

  • Comment number 31.

    I would like to comment on the manchester united fans singing Always the victim it's never your fault which is not aimed at hilsborough but is aimed at the Liverpool number 7 Swarz after he abused evera.

  • Comment number 32.

    And this after being taunted by Liverpool fans about Munich

  • Comment number 33.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 34.

    A fine tribute to the 96 before the match and fans generally well behaved (you always get a few idiots who try to spoil it).

    The game itself was fast paced and entertaining. I think the Shelvey tackle was a red card - Evans could easily have been sent off as he had both feet off the ground too.

    Man Utd did not play well but they now have 12 points from 5 games which is ominous for the rest.

    Liverpool will not stay in the relegation zone but they may struggle to finish in the top half. Sterling and Suso look like good prospects, Rodgers will need to make sure he uses them carefully.

  • Comment number 35.

    Football would be much better off without the media, to me they are on the same level as the minority of moronic 'fans'.
    As to the game, well done referee, 2 - 1 to you.

  • Comment number 36.

    Glad that the only drama was on the pitch yesterday.

    Utd had the rub of the green with the ref´s decisions and came away with the 3 points , Liverpool played well and deserved at least a point.

    Have to congratulate Man Utd fans for their impeccable behaviour.

  • Comment number 37.

    Hmm, yeah, a pretty poor game. Liverpool can't seem to 'play' at the moment, try as they might, cause there is always something like the sending off holding them back.

    Man U were pretty poor as well and seemed to struggle even when they had the man advantage.

    But, whatever factors there are, Liverpool have still only got a few points and Man U are getting points by hook or by crook.

  • Comment number 38.

    United have been awful all season. Yet they've won all their matches save for the Everton game!

    Midfield is a big, big concern. Scholes was brought on in the second half to reinforce a midfield that was alarmingly non-existent in the first half, but what does that say about Cleverley and Anderson? Not good enough.

  • Comment number 39.

    37.At 10:02 24th Sep 2012, MrBlueBurns wrote:
    Hmm, yeah, a pretty poor game.

    I thought it was quite a good game , apart from a couple of the refs decisions.

    Arsenal and Man City was poor , I could not believe how many misplaced passes there were from both sides. I think Silva passed it more to the Arsenal players than to his own team mates.

  • Comment number 40.

    #39 repo

    Well, I wasn't particularly inspired by either game, not that I saw all of the Man City v Arsenal match.

    As I said, Man U weren't that good and Liverpool at least tried but seem limited right now.

  • Comment number 41.


    Do you know i was really impressed with Arsenal yesterday, thought they played City off the park for most the game and City have to be thankful Gervinho was playing and not RVP.

    Could be a really interesting season this as United have been poor in nearly every game. City can't defend and Silva has been useless since January. Chelsea have scraped by in a number of games and although Arsenal have played well they only have 2 wins from 5.

  • Comment number 42.

    38.At 10:07 24th Sep 2012, Scholes Legend wrote:

    Utd better hope that Carrick stays fit all season as he was immense yesterday, by far their best player.

    Shelvy's tackle was a little reckless but again Evan's one was two footed. Possibly a yellow each and a good talking too should have been the way forward. I do think he set a precedent of leniency by not carding Evra for the tackle on the edge of the box. Both should have been penalties, Suarez was caught and Johnson clipped Valencia's heel. Sad that the ref's decisions are the major talking point.

    The fans (as in life) were in the Majority impeccable with a few Idiots scattered about on both sides.

  • Comment number 43.

    It was a day and occasion that was far more important than the football, but in every way - typical of a Liverpool/Man Utd match - it created so much to talk about. I would like to congratulate many of the comments made on this blog, who have provided a far greater unbiased view, regardless of who they support, of the happenings than most if not all of the so-called journalists.

    Though overridden there is an issue that continuously gets overlooked and that is the poor quality of tackling in the premiership and the two major incidents again showed this. If Evans had been slightly later than Shelvey in the tackle it would have been him getting sent off. Both were two footed and it appears that to make a hard tackle these days players can only go in two footed, which has been a sending off offence for ever.
    In the same way Johnson was out of position, as normal, leaving Liverpool with two defenders against three attackers. As good as he tried desperately to get back he, like so many others, tackles with his wrong foot leaving the referee with little option to give the penalty even when contact was minimal. i am amazed as to how many so called stars now tackle with the wrong foot. I was always coached that if you cannot get the correct foot into the tackle stay on your feet and steer the player away from goal - is that now lost in coaching manuals. perhaps Premiership coaches should spend some time ont his as they are losing so many goals, bookings nad sendings off to what is a basic flaw with defenders.

  • Comment number 44.

    41.At 10:15 24th Sep 2012, wirral18 wrote:
    Could be a really interesting season this as United have been poor in nearly every game. City can't defend and Silva has been useless since January.

    I really think Mancini is naive tactically. It looked like a 4 1 5 formation at times.
    With YaYa bombing always forward they only had Garcia in midfield ???

    I think Silva is a good player but not as good as our media make him out.

    As for Liverpool it looks like Agger could be out for the season, but the kids were impressive , I just hope they keep playing , and the likes of Downing just warm the bench.

  • Comment number 45.

    42: I have to agree that Evans wasn't blameless in the tackle, but I think Shelvey's problem was more the way he went straight through Giggs seconds before, and before the ref could react one way or another, he was half way up Evans leg. Personally, I'd have booked him for both challenges - so he's off anyway - and booked Evans as well.

    As for the muppets on the pitch, that is as low as it gets; goading the opposition fans into reacting when everyone's heading out the gates. They won't see you start things, but they'll all hear the response...

    Given the way I was chased out from the front of the Kop post-match with my son last time when we stopped to take some pictures, I'd like to know what the stewards were doing as these guys hopped the fencing...

  • Comment number 46.

    Re:- The reporting on the small number of "fans" that did not respect the occasion. That's journalism for you. I'll give you an example. The protests against the cuts in London in 2011. Over 200,000 attended, about 200 decided to cause trouble. What did we hear about for days? The idiots causing trouble, not the hundreds of thousands who behaved impeccably. I think it's good to "name and shame" the minority but they should never be allowed to hijack the agenda. As far as the mindless minority that made the aeroplane gestures its simple: ban them for life. As a Liverpool fan I never, ever want to hear the chants or see gestures like that and they don't deserve to be called fans.

    As for the crucial decisions...Think Shelvey's card was correct, the three penalty decisions were correct but Van Persie should have seen red, not yellow. Outside of that I don't think there is much to complain about.

    Liverpool were desperately unlucky to lose after large periods of domination and good football and I thought that they were outstanding when reduced to 10 men. The lack of a striker is hurting badly though and this mistake has cost us European football next season unless we win a domestic cup. Our position looks bad right now but I don't see a relegation battle come the end of the season. However, I think a top 10 finish is about as good as it will get this season unless we suddenly discover how to score goals, and a part of me is actually contemplating the fact we may struggle to break out of the bottom half at all. It's going to be a long road...

    Utd have this uncanny ability to win ugly but they can't afford too many displays like that if they want the PL title. SAF will be happy with the win certainly, but he must be concerned at how impotent they looked for long periods of the game against a side lacking in firepower. They looked devoid of ideas in the first half and barely matched Liverpool when they were reduced to 10. They may be riding high in the league but they are also riding their luck.

  • Comment number 47.

    @44 repo

    I would agree that Sterling and Suso are playing well but you can't expect them to play 40 games in a season at their age. I think Liverpool will really struggle this season.

  • Comment number 48.

    45.At 10:26 24th Sep 2012, Declan Hackett wrote:

    I feel any Liverpool fan who was involved in that should be banned for life. All in all everyone acted well up until this moment and these Idiots should be made accountable for their actions. 99% of fans on both sides i am sure don't want this sort of chanting and actions to continue so getting rid of the 1% that do is the best way to make a change.

  • Comment number 49.

    Would you be inclined to slightly blame Rodgers for the lack of strikers though? He seemed to have already decided to get rid of Carroll without having a replacement all sorted out.

  • Comment number 50.

    47.At 10:33 24th Sep 2012, BaggiosPonytail wrote:
    I would agree that Sterling and Suso are playing well but you can't expect them to play 40 games in a season at their age. I think Liverpool will really struggle this season.

    I said a few months ago that I would be happy if they sold all the "stars" and just played the kids for the next 3 years.
    Suso , Shelvey, Sterling , Wisdom and Kelly ( who is a central defender not a full back) have all played well so far.
    Boroni so far has not looked very good but he will play because Rodgers brought him in.
    Shelvey has a lot of aggression which needs to be channelled in the right way, just like Rooney at 20 years old.

  • Comment number 51.

    There can only be plaudits for 99% of the fans and all management and players as there was a huge united stance by both clubs in a terrific attempt to put the past behind us and pay the dutiful respects to all the families connected in both tragedies. I felt what both clubs did leading up to the game was dignified and respectful and the tributes were fantastic. The focus should categorically NOT be on the mindless few that tried to spoil it at the end. It should be on the huge step forward these 2 fiercest of rivals made yesterday.

    On the game itself, Liverpool dominated the first half but I did think (Evra apart) Utd were in control of themselves and stayed strong, particularly Rio who was outstanding. The sending off was just and the more replays shown actually made it worse. He jumped in with both feet which both left the floor and caught Evans and his reaction was embarrassing, firstly to Rio and Giggsy and second to Ferguson. However, if he has come out and aplogised then fair enough. Gerrard's goal was fantastic and he drove Liverpool forward until he seemed exhausted around the hour. Utd were poor, no urgency and lack of cohesion going forward and yet again, it took Scholes coming on to get his foot on the ball. Rafael's goal was brilliant and from then on Utd started to dominate themselves without ever seeming to play above average. The penalty was a penalty but a soft one and overall a draw would have been the fair result. As a Utd fan, the main positive so far this season is we've not played well and we are still up there at the top and we seem to be grinding results out.

    The sooner Rooney comes back and plays "in the hole" linking up with RVP the better as we will be so much more potent and I'd drop Kagawa deeper to play alongside Carrick so he can influence the game more. My 2 main worries are Nani and Evra, for completely different reasons. Nani has so much ability and should be tearing this league apart but just doesn't do it and Evra seems to have lost his power, strength and more alarmingly his positioning. Maybe a fit Young and Buttner will make a difference?

    Liverpool are by no means a bad team at all but again they lack goals and potency up front and until they rectify that problem I can't see them breaking in to the top 4!!!

    Well done to everyone for making a great statement in what was an intense and hostile atmosphere and playing their part in trying to move everything forward.

  • Comment number 52.

    49.At 10:41 24th Sep 2012, Weallfollowunited wrote:
    Would you be inclined to slightly blame Rodgers for the lack of strikers though?

    Yes , It does say manager in his job title.

    Plus the fact he hung his hat on Boroni ( or is it Voronin in disguise? ) who has not lived up to the hype.
    " a player that will excite the fans" was the quote from BR pre-season.

  • Comment number 53.

    "" a player that will excite the fans" was the quote from BR pre-season."

    He didnt say Liverpool fans.


  • Comment number 54.

    Liverpool have the strikers, I've checked the squad list. Problem is the first choicers aren't prolific, so they need goals from other areas. That's a huge ask on Gerrard, as the midfield support for him is lacking in depth and quality. A tough season ahead I suspect.

  • Comment number 55.

    53.At 10:54 24th Sep 2012, Jesus the Teddy Bear wrote:
    "" a player that will excite the fans" was the quote from BR pre-season."

    He didnt say Liverpool fans.


    Maybe he should have amuse instead of excite ?

  • Comment number 56.

    Quite obviously a mistranslation from Northern Scoish (Scouish | Irisse | Scouseish )to English.


  • Comment number 57.

    51.At 10:46 24th Sep 2012, Hallows77 wrote:

    I slightly disagree with you sir. I dont think there was any reason for Ferdinand to get involved with Shelvy once he was sent off. In fact in most incidents through out the game Rio would be one of the first players their giving his 2 cents worth. The ref had the situation under control and it didn't require Rio's comments.

    Rio has no class!

  • Comment number 58.


    I think you are spot on on the Shelvey red card. It was a bit reckless and naive more than malicious.

    Borini does look pants, maybe Suso to make a few more starts instead.

    Manu were there for the taking yesterday until the sending off and even after failed to dominate until the last 20 when Liverpool inevitably tired.

    Chelsea look set for the title based on early form but even they have been a bit patchy.

    Early days yet.

  • Comment number 59.

    Actually considered changing my user name just for the sake of this post:

    The few mindless idiots on both sides at the end of the game should be completely ignored, they arent TRUE football fans. Regardless of loyalty's it is unacceptable.

    I actually have to admit, and never thought I'd say this, but the rendition of You'll Never Walk Alone before kick-off gave me goosebumps. The way the whole thing was handled by both clubs was superb, a truly fitting tribute to the 96. There was a game on as well, but who cares....sometimes you just have to recognise where a football match lies in the order of significance.

  • Comment number 60.


    To a degree yes, Borini hasn't shown any form yet and this was BR's choice. However, I do believe some of the blame for our lack of a top striker also has to be taken by the owners. BR himself said he wouldn't have sanctioned Carroll's loan to WHU if he wasn't certain that he had a replacement in the wings, so clearly he was given assurances that a replacement was in the wings. That said I think he's treated AC pretty abominably. He should have been given a chance, not loaned out to another team.

  • Comment number 61.

    Very impressed with Liverpool since the West Bromwich game, i can honestly say we have played well, created many chances and very much the better team in the last 4 games but just lack that finisher as mentioned by many posters before. The goals will come and im sure so will points over the next few games.

    What i am concerned about is the fans getting on Rodgers back so early, i heard a caller on the 606 last night saying Rodgers needs to go, i personally feel this manager above the last few we have had needs time, with a change in manager a new style, major cuttbacks to the playing squad to trim the vast wage bill that has blighted the club for years will have an impact on the results but we have to back a a manager at least beyond this season to really see his players come in and a new style which i really admire take a foothold, the club has been in a bit of a downward spiral over the last few years lets be honest here this is going to be no quick fix if we are to challenge for the top 4 again it may take a couple of seasons. The impact in the short time he has been in the club on the youngsters has been excellent and that has been plain to see, the likes of Shelvey, Suso, Sterling, Wisdom all either in the team or the fringes and giving real value to the squad is excellent to see this is following the likes of Kelly in recent years, what other club in the premiership can boast as good a crop of youngsters emerging right now? Having a spanish coach in Rudolpho Borrell in the academy these youngsters area are already well versed in the short passing possession technical game that Rodgers advocates so i believe Rodgers is the man to push these youngsters on to be fixtures this season and moving forward.

    Im all for patience here if it means a season with a mid table finish in order to really bring these youngsters through and playing a possession based game then so be it

  • Comment number 62.

    The pre-match tributes were handled well so sad to hear that a few mouth breathers couldn't withhold their ignorance for 90 minutes plus time added on.

    The press were almost certainly looking for that element because bad news sells.

    The match was played in a combative spirit ( as it always should be ) and United dodged a bullet with their performance.

    Worrying signs ( chants etc aside )
    - what happens when Scholsey is no longer available to steady the cart?
    - kudos for scoring but that wasn't the best penalty I have ever seen. Piccadilly, we have a problem.
    - this is still not a convincing side and I wonder where the 1-6 wake up call is going to happen.

    That's me pedalling bad news, so positives _

    - the performance of most of the fans ( on both sides )
    - RVP scoring again
    - keeper numberf 2 is decent too ( or is he keeper number 1 now )
    - difficult fixture ( always ) but three points

  • Comment number 63.

    genuinly gobsmacked at the people who have the opinion that Shelvey's tackle wasnt a red card......couldnt have been an easier decision goven the current rules.

  • Comment number 64.

    63.At 11:31 24th Sep 2012, signori wrote:

    My issue with it is consistency. Both him and Evans did reckless challenges. Evans was a clear 2 footer where as Shelvy's became 2 feet with the trailing leg coming in with scissor kick movement. Both should have been treated the same. Thems the rules.

  • Comment number 65.

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

  • Comment number 66.

    #37, MrBlueBurns,

    It takes the biscuit having a Chelsea fan with the cheek to be talking about United results by hook or by crook. Chelsea had to thank the referee for winning against Reading at home. Strangely enough, they also had to thank the referee on Saturday as well. Luiz and Ivanovic seem to be developing new tackling techniques, seeing offenses going unpunished repeatedly. Nice one.

  • Comment number 67.

    #64 - Evans did jum a bit, but his studs were never up and he was in control, Shelvey was wild. I think that was the key differentiator. Also, as someone said earlier, the way Shelveys studs connected with Evans would have been hugely influential on Halsey's decision. Evans feet were back on the deck before he touched the bal and therefore made no contact with Shelvey.
    Also remember, Shelvey had made a wild challenge on Rafael about 10 minutes earlier which would have been in Halsey's mind too.
    Dont get me wrong - I totally agree with you about consistency in general - just there is a very big contrast between Evans and Shelvey's challenges yesterday.

  • Comment number 68.

    63.At 11:31 24th Sep 2012, signori wrote:
    genuinly gobsmacked at the people who have the opinion that Shelvey's tackle wasnt a red card.

    Agreed , but are you not gobsmacked that Evans escaped punishment for his two footed lunge ?

  • Comment number 69.

    67.At 11:44 24th Sep 2012, Nevs_A_Red wrote:

    I agree Shelvy's was wild and all loyalties aside should have gone, but Evans was bad too. Look at the pic on the link below and you will see Evans went jumped in 2 footed, both feet off the ground.

  • Comment number 70.

    64. clummers

    completely agree Clummers, it should be the same for both sides no matter the stadium or occassion.

    68. repo

    Also agree both went in full blooded, Evans escaped punishment as he didnt leave the floor (jump into the challenge), got to the ball first and ultimately came off worse. I guess if Shelvey had stayed down and not ran after the ball then who knows the resulting cards shown?

    I think that in all these games, the refs continue to be the talking point, they clearly need help out there, saying that its still opionion based, someones red is anothers yellow. I just think that Shelveys was 'in todays game' an easy decision.

  • Comment number 71.

    'Apparently provoked'...... lol, classic stuff McNulty. Tough result for you eh?

  • Comment number 72.

    66.At 11:42 24th Sep 2012, Mind the gap wrote:

    It is strange because I dont think anyone is actually playing that well so far this season.
    All teams seem to have their issues with form , whoever gets them sorted out the quickest will win the league.

  • Comment number 73.

    Man United fan here. Very lucky. Still missing a Hargreaves, Essien, Toure figure....playing Nani, Valencia, Kagagwa and RVP leaving Giggs and Carrick to central midfield was madness at Anfield......Reina made no saves (but almost got the pen)....the only time we ran at them with pace (Rafael and then Valencia) we got the goals....surely a lesson there??

  • Comment number 74.


    Your picture clearly shows a different story too, im afraid that the refs position gave no help to decide the fate of Evans.............

  • Comment number 75.

    Shelvey had also (IIRC) just fouled Giggs only 5 seconds earlier (like I said, if I am remembering correctly) so maybe (rightly or wrongly) that played some part in the refs thinking.

  • Comment number 76.

    If Shelvey deserved a red car why not Evans? Was it playacting by staying on the floor that let him get away with it?
    Again if Shelvey deserved the red card why not Van-Persie?
    Yet again the ref got it wrong, and failed to be consistent in one match.
    Its bad enough when the make a mistake, but there is no excuse for inconsistancy

  • Comment number 77.

    I didn't want to see any red cards yesterday. I believe though that Shelvey didn't give the referee a chance. First he cluttered Giggs from behind to get the ball, in the next second he went with a two footed scissors attempt on Evans and after that he went ballistic against everyone in sight, including the referee.

    He was also out of his mind to be giving Sir Alex Ferguson a mouthful on the way to the dressing room. He was clearly a man out of his mind and a danger to one of the most quiet ever matches between United and Liverpool.

    In my eyes, he showed disrespect to the occasion. Mr Halsey didn't want to give a red card. He was just left out of options. This view was supported yesterday by both Jamie Redknap (ex Liverpool midfielder) and Lawrenson on MOTD2.

  • Comment number 78.

    Why do people who obviously follow football have this strange idea that any tackle where " studs are showing" or " feet off the ground" are automatic red cards ( clummers No 63).

    The referee gives a red card when he feel s a challenge is reckless/dangerous/out of control. I am a City fan who is sick to the back teeth of decisions going United's way but yesterday the referee got them spot on. Evans was in complete control of himself and actually made the tackle, taking the ball cleanly with his right instep and making no contact with Shelvey, who went over the ball and caught Evans' left shin with a set of studs. One in complete control, one out of control. Easy decision.

  • Comment number 79.

    70.At 11:51 24th Sep 2012, signori wrote:

    In my opinion they were both as bad as each other

    What about Aguero ?
    He desperately tries to stay on his feet to get a shot off when he is fouled. That was a penalty yesterday, the ref should have called it.
    They call play back for a foul in the middle of the park when no advantage is gained so why not in the penalty area.

  • Comment number 80.

    74.At 11:56 24th Sep 2012, signori wrote:

    Unfortunately its one of those incidents that will always divide opinions an whatever the ref does will never please everyone. It just hurts when it happens to your team in a big game like this.

    75.At 11:56 24th Sep 2012, Jesus the Teddy Bear wrote:

    I don't think it was a foul against Giggs, not the cleanest of tackles but not a foul.

  • Comment number 81.

    #72, repo,

    You're spot on.
    United, City and Chelsea have got results by luck so far. On occasions, all three clubs have been helped by refereeing decisions. The teams playing impressive football at the moment are Arsenal and Everton, in my eyes. Let's hope all the above will improve, for the sake of the Premier League.

    As a United fan, I just hope it won't end up one of those seasons when March comes and we're still waiting for United to click.

  • Comment number 82.

    Mind the gap, I think it's supported by the majority of people that it was a straight red.

    78: I don't think that Evans could have stopped himself once he's gone into that challenge and if he had caught rather than be caught it could have ended with a bad injury. 2 reds for me.

  • Comment number 83.

    So my last comment was deemed inappropriate because I defended Manchester United fans...Nice one BBC! "Apparently provoked" is the worst piece of writing I have seen in a long time! Last week when United sang songs that weren't even related to the tragedy at Hillsborough we were slated as the most disgusting fans in the Premiership! Players, managers and pundits saying lifetime bans should be handed out and United fans branded as a disgrace to the club...Yet Liverpool fans not even a week later are doing aeroplane gestures at singing about Munich and NOBODY has mentioned it once in the press!

    I cannot believe it! and I'm appalled that Liverpool fans seem to think they have a moral high ground because of what happened in 89 to the 96, Man United fans were nothing but respectful until Liverpool fans provoked them yet you have written it as if again United fans are to blame...

  • Comment number 84.

    #57 clummers

    Did you see the foul mouthed expletives that Shelvey came out of with to Rio's face? I'm thinking of getting a copy of that video and sending it to the FA and police as I was offended by it, albeit vicariously.

    #66 Mind the gap

    You seem to have quite readily taken my 'by hook or by crook' comment as a criticism rather than a compliment. Why is that?

  • Comment number 85.

    78.At 11:57 24th Sep 2012, paullakesknees wrote:

    Cause the rules say a 2 footed tackle is a red card!

  • Comment number 86.

    Cant wait for Suso to score a winning goal for Liverpool.
    The headline writers will have a field day:- Jesus saves Liverpool perhaps

  • Comment number 87.

    #78 - very well said. Exactly my point. There is a huge difference between having your feet off the ground or jumping in, or being reckless/wild/out of control.

    The problem is, that too often referees have given reds for soft challenges and it means that now there is no defined line as to what is acceptable or not. Time for the FA to actually do some work and train the referees and educate the clubs across the board - using video footage etc. to show them what is and isnt accepted any more.

  • Comment number 88.

    84.At 12:01 24th Sep 2012, MrBlueBurns wrote:

    HA HA, yeah Shelvy did rather lose it when Rio had a go at him. I wonder what Rio said to set him off Maybe it was some sort of Terry Savales reference?

  • Comment number 89.

    79. repo

    Aguero's attitude to saty up ultimately won us the championship last year (QPR game) so on one hand i salute him and on the other we could have got 3 points yesterday.

    I remember Kompany's against United last season too very much talked about, these decisions tend to even themselves out in the long run.

  • Comment number 90.

    #85 - I beg you to read the rules please :)

    It actually in now way states that in the official rule book - believe me, I've looked at the rules for tackles once thinking I could settle an argument, and it isnt in there, I promise lol! :)

  • Comment number 91.

    81.At 12:00 24th Sep 2012, Mind the gap wrote:

    Well Arsenal gave the ball away a lot yesterday , so did City.

    As for Everton , if Swansea had taken their chances, especially in the first half ( also good goalkeeping) they would have hammered Everton.

  • Comment number 92.

    •Comment number 88.
    At 12:06 24th Sep 2012, clummers wrote:
    Probably asked him politely if he likes choc ice.

  • Comment number 93.

    85. Clummers

    No it doesn't, sorry. It's this urban myth that has been built up. If a challenge is dangerous or reckless inthe opinion of the referee he gives a red. As I said earlier, I would be delighted to see any United player missing for three games but Evans times a tackle well, played the ball with the side of his foot and never remotely looked like touching Shelvey. Not dangerous, not reckless, not a red card

  • Comment number 94.

    Very disappointed in sections of both sets of supporters. United fans singing "always the victims" then the Liverpool fans booing and on one occasion even monkey chanting Evra plus the airplane at the end.

    Those people need banning from all games.

    Credit to the clubs though! Other teams as well, including Everton in the Newcastle game.

  • Comment number 95.

    93.At 12:14 24th Sep 2012, paullakesknees wrote:

    Its just hard to take losing in that way I suppose where decisions don't go you way.

  • Comment number 96.

    93. paullakesknees

    Whilst i dont necessarily agree with your point, i do however think you have a brilliant username! :)

  • Comment number 97.

    #93 - A United and City fan in absolute complete agreement. :s

    I think the universe might be about to implode! ;)

  • Comment number 98.

    Why is it the case that footballers "can't pull out of a tackle"? Surely if there is no immediate goal threat players should, given the likelihood of being sent off in today's game, absolutely pull out of that challenge. It's not the 1970's anymore.

  • Comment number 99.


    It is worrying me a bit :)

    In fact, a lot......

  • Comment number 100.

    It's a pity you had to report on a few idiots (provoked or unprovoked) that really didn't deserve to get any column space. Once again you have spoiled a decent report by trying to grab your own headlines.


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