So here we go, another fun filled afternoon beckons. One of peace and goodwill to all men? Can you feel the love? No? Neither can I and nor can they. Let it begin!
Of course with every game between us and the Mancs there is always an issue. This time there is more than one some causing one to reflect and look back?
Firstly there is the relationship between Kenny and Fergie. This has come under more scrutiny in the run into to this game as our man turned sixty earlier in the week. I’m a bit away from it but, when one reaches that noble age presumably you can’t help but reflect, if you are the birthday boy, those who have written about him and those who know him, belated happy returns by the way.
I guess many fans would like to think that Dalglish and Ferguson are the best of enemies given the fact that both sets of fans are? However, they go back a long way, to Glasgow long before they ever crossed swords in English football, as this article in the Liverpool Echo nicely tells us.
It is clear there is respect between the two. Sure, they might have had the odd tiff (“daughter gate” in 1988 as Fergie was being interviewed) but there is an understanding and a line that is never crossed probably borne of a realisation that it is “football business” and that, even nether would openly admit to it, that they are, in terms of passion, competiveness, desire to win and love for the game, two peas from the same pod. However, I wonder if Kenny, during his first reign at Anfield, would have relaxed and laid back enough to come out with this.
“I’ve never had a problem with Fergie I’ve got respect for the job he has done as a manager. I’ve never had a problem. I’ve known him for a long, long time. I saw him on my first day back of course, and we had a drink and a conversation after the game”
Of course Kenny is older and wiser now although sometimes you wonder if the same applies to Fergie given his comments about Liverpool over the years since Kenny resigned! It’s interesting that we’ve not be subjected to the usual Fergie pre match nonsense this time. Perhaps deep down, after all they’ve been through, he respects Kenny too much to insult him in this way? Or may be it’s because he knows that with Dalglish he has met his match and that he won’t take it…..
“He (Fergie) has used psychology before in the pre-amble to matches, but he will only get sparring practice if he tries to use it on ourselves. We’ve both been a long time out of short trousers. It will have to be a good one to catch us out”
A great quote, are you listening Rafa?
Then of course there is the issue that the Mancs can overtake our record of eighteen titles if they top the table at the end of this season. This is another cold reality to face up to, the result of our “decline” and their rise in the nineties and beyond. Slowly The Mancs have chipped away at our achievements to the point that probably, come this summer, all we’ll be left with (of note) is five European Cups to their three (hopefully three and not four). Rather than worry about this I’m just grateful that I was around for most of our achievements and that the “what goes around comes around” notion that the Mancs are benefiting from now comes full circle back to us some day!
Finally there is Andy Carroll. It’s been widely rumoured that this is the game where he will finally make his debut. Perhaps the anticipation hasn’t been so much as we’ve had Suarez to look at while he gets himself fit? However, the Uruguayan himself, like the fans, is now looking forward to teaming up with our record striker.
“He hasn’t played a competitive game for two months but it is up to us as a group to ease him back in after all that time away, my impressions so far are that he is very tall, good in the air and has great feet. You have to remember that defenders here are very tall; that’s why the duels between them are very good to watch but I still don’t know how they are going to cope with him”
I wonder if Carroll will start? Perhaps the best he can hope for, given his lack of match fitness, is a place on the bench and little cameo later in the game? However, as the Mancs are without Vidic and Ferdinand perhaps Kenny might be tempted to give him a little longer? Elsewhere we are without Kelly, for at least a month, but Meireles should play despite limping off at West Ham.
Prediction? There is a Mancs fan at work who informed me that if they win today we can’t catch them this season. I’ve not checked this it as it’s the sort of small minded pedantry that I pretend not to care about mainly because I’ve not thought of it myself! However, I genuinely believe that the Mancs will have to wait for another game to do that. Delaying the inevitable? Maybe but before that we’ll make a mark, 2-0 to us with Suarez to play a major part.
Finally a word about Ryan Giggs who may make his record Mancs appearance today. “respect” … that’s all, one word. I’m now off to pinch myself as I don’t believe I’ve just written that, at least it isn’t Gary Neville!