So just as one Manc team comes along trying to knock you out of the cup another follows!
Kenny was rightly proud of the team after Wednesday and was quick to say the achievement was for the fans. However, any further feedback or navel gazing is quickly diluted as we swiftly move on today’s tie against The Mancs in the FA Cup fourth round. Despite securing a trip to Wembley, Wednesday will be nothing but a support act for this which has always been a colossus of a match. FA Cup, Premiership or just a “friendly” kick about Liverpool v The Mancs is “it” for many.
This tie has added resonance because Luis Suarez Patrice Evra and all that. Will the fans hold back over this? Fergie has written to Mancs ticket holders asking them to behave however this is in relation to securing increased allocation because it’s beyond the Mancs fans to sit down in the seat they have purchased, let the stewards do whatever they have to do and just watch the game. Nothing has been mentioned in the letter about the Suarez Evra race thing which is consistent with Fergie’s refusal to take up our offer of peace talks. His comments the other day merely urged his fans to be
“positive, witty and loud”
However yesterday he bowed to expectation and said
“As Steven Gerrard said yesterday, there is a responsibility on the players to behave properly and also both sets of fans. We want to make sure we are talking about the game, nothing else.”
Ian Ayre also tried defuse any potential problems.
“We mustn’t detract from fans chanting and singing at each other but it needs to be a rivalry thing rather than a hatred thing.”
Perhaps Mr Ayre wouldn’t need to issue such statements had he and his colleagues handled the Suarez situation with a tad more common sense and tact? Instead we are shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted, disappeared over the horizon, lived for a good thirty years and ended up in the knacker’s yard! Why weren’t such statements issued years before when there was a genuine viciousness amongst both set of fans?
I’ve no doubt that if Suarez had been found “not guilty” then the Liverpool fans would have let Patrice Evra have with both barrels. He will get it anyway just as Suarez will when he next plays against The Mancs. This is part and parcel of the job and this fixture and Ian Ayre is deluded in the extreme if he thinks his words are going to change anything. Quite frankly I don’t care, I’ve seen and heard stuff at Liverpool Mancs games, from both sides, that will make your ears and eyes bleed, especially in the 1980’s. Nothing that is served up today will amaze me and my advice to Mr Ayre is plug your ears and or get over it. As for Fergie he has been involved these sort of games for too long to genuinely expect his comments to be heeded?
To the game and the obvious thing is to build on Wednesday’s performance. Although it was 2-2, the first time we have conceded more than one goal at home this season, the psychological boost is obvious. However, this is a cup tie so anything could happen but if we use league form as guide we should prepare ourselves for another home drawn and then a victory in the replay! I guess all we can do is keep plugging away and hope that the chances we create are converted, surely our luck will change or have we got past that stage now?
A repeat of Wednesday’s attitude as opposed to last Saturday’s at Bolton is required. In the league game, which was drawn 1-1 (click here for match report), we were the better side as has been the case for most of our home games. The incentive is there, with the Mancs’ neighbours already out of the cup victory over the Cities’ other team would certainly enhance our chances of progressing further? The Mancs form has been up and down however, I guess, when you look at their league position, this is all relative? Nonetheless I don’t there is anyone connected with Liverpool, be it players, staff or fans, who feels we have anything to fear from them?
Team wise and I guess the question for many is will Patrice Evra play however that is the Mancs concern. For us I wonder if Kenny will risk Craig Bellamy for his third game in a week? If reports about his knee and how, up until now, he has been used sparingly as result are true, I suspect not. Presumably this opens the door for Andy Carroll and perhaps this is just the sort of “blood and guts” game he will enjoy? Carroll and all the other players who are out of form, or have flitted in out of the side, will surely need no encouragement with a Wembley place up for grabs? Jay Spearing is back which, if he plays, might free Gerrard up and allow him to go forward more often?
Prediction? Do you think I’m going to say anything other than a Liverpool win? We’ve had a bit of luck recently, the penalty on Wednesday and the same referee not noticing Charlie Adam’s “tackle” on Dzeko, however, this should not detract from what was a deserved win over the two legs. Perhaps the Mancs will be fresher having not played midweek however, with one Manchester scalp, the desire and confidence will surely be there for the double? 2-1 to us.