I didn’t hear about Rafa’s enraged, vicious verbal assault on Fergie until late yesterday evening.
I use the word vicious assault with tongue firmly planted in cheek. No doubt the Sun will up the anti and suggest Rafa all but attacked Fergie with a machete before smearing himself with his blood and hanging his decapitated head from The Shankley Gates! The headlines on the web and on the news certainly suggest that our man lost the plot aka Kevin Keegan all those years ago. However, as always, the truth is still out there and no one appears to want to bring it home “I’d just love it, love it, love it” if someone did boring as it probably would be!
Was it me or was Rafa not really frothing at the month, banging his fist on the table and twitching like a man who is dire need of a straight jacket, a padded cell and a plastic spoon to eat all his meals with? His comments were clam, and with a nice touch of humour and healthy cynicism. However, no doubt many, whose job it is to add up two and two and make five, will see this is the prelude to stories about the pressure of the title race getting to him and the players?
As for the comments Rafa made and wisdom of them, there is, as ever, black, white and grey. Fergie’s comments about Liverpool getting nervous in second half of the season were designed to wind us up. Bait primed, bait tossed out, Rafa bites, Fergie reels him in, job done I’m afraid!
Rafa also referred to Fergie’s comments about how the fixture list was a disadvantage to The Mancs
“Two years ago we had a lot of early kick-offs away on Saturdays when United were playing on Sundays. And we didn’t say anything, now he (Alex Ferguson) is complaining about everything, that everybody is against United. But the second half of the season will see them playing at home against all the teams at the top of the table, it is a fantastic advantage.”
A fair point. However, sadly, it is somewhat undermined by this quote from Rafa in August 2007.
“Why is it that Liverpool always plays the most fixtures, away from home in an early kickoff, following an international break?….We had more than the top clubs last season and we have four already to prepare for this season… We will fight to cope with our more difficult kick-off times and all the other decisions which are going against us.”
Nonetheless Fergie and The Mancs have always given the impression of considering themselves a cut above other teams. Nothing wrong with such confidence so long as it is channeled into their efforts on the pitch but has this always been the case? All too often there has been a touch of “don’t you know who we are, or who I am” when Fergie goes off on one against a variety of targets, but are The Mancs the only top club that has chosen to play this “holier than thou” card? Yes I mean you Messer’s Wenger and Mourinho and once Big Phil gets his feet under the table I’m sure he’ll follow. And yes, OK I’m sure we’ve also done it the past although the memory conveniently forgets when!
In short I don’t think anyone should attach anything of significance to Rafa or Fergie’s words. No ones season will be derailed because of them. Although I’ve said before I believe the best thing is to ignore the likes of Fergie and his childish, predictable mind games, I’m not really complaining if someone like Rafa wants to stand up and have a go. After all, it is The Mancs so hats off Senior!
Meanwhile on to Stoke today. The last time I visited Stoke for a league game was in the 1984-85 season. Stoke were then playing at the Victoria Ground. It was on 3rd November so the Stoke fans in the Paddock, with depressing predictability, thought it funny and original to bombard us, in the tightly packed away end, with bangers and fire crackers.
After about fifteen minutes of intermittent attacks someone at our end launched what can only be described as an “exocet firework” at the Stoke fans. It had more colours, flashes and general pyrotechnics than a Genesis or Pink Floyd light show and seemed to go on for twice as long! I’m sure the flashes could be seen from space! I’ve never seen a terrace empty so quickly. To paraphrase Crocodile Dundee “That’s a firework? Na, this is a firework”.
Prediction. That game was won 1-0 thanks to a late Ronnie Whelan winner and I’d take the same score today. Stoke have proved difficult to break down as the Mancs found out over Christmas and Arsenal the month before however, no doubt we will be keen to help expunge the memory of the 0-0 home draw earlier this season? Torres should start although Alonso is now out. Although this could be a testing game it is one we should still win and with one, of both, of the Mancs and Chelsea certain to slip up this weekend it is vital that we do so.
Wow! I got through the whole piece without mentioning Rory Delap’s long throw…. dam!