Reds demolish Devils 4-1 in cracking win

Rafa’s cracking up? Well given that is was the travelling Liverpool support who were singing those words, and that the vast majority of fans are still very much behind their beleaguered manager, not everyone thinks so. The song was a sarcastic message to the Manchester United fans, well, the ones who hadn’t vacated the premises early, and rapidly.

Liverpool beat Manchester United by four goals to one at Old Trafford.

After going a goal down from the spot on 23 minutes, Liverpool pulled it back level again five minutes later with a piece of typical Torres class. By half time Liverpool had the edge, Steven Gerrard scoring from the penalty he’d earned himself. In the second half Fabio Aurelio scored direct from the free kick that brought a red card for Nemanja Vidic. Nobody else got near his perfect set piece. By this time 76 minutes had been played, Liverpool were winning 3-1, and deservedly so. Liverpool’s win had been achieved when United still had 11 on the pitch; it was only the icing on the cake when Dossena added the fourth in injury time.

So, what did Manchester United’s manager, Alex Ferguson, have to say about this rather convincing defeat? He told Sky: “It is a hard one to take because I thought, really, we were the better team and the score does not reflect that.”

Hold on – who was it that was supposed to be cracking up?

The better team lost 4-1? Even Jose Mourinho wouldn’t try to claim the best team lost when he’s on the wrong end of that kind of scoreline.

Maybe Ferguson can get some help from some books. Commenting yesterday on Rafa’s January accusations about him, Ferguson was dismissive: “I would need to read more of Freud before I could really understand all that. I don’t know where it came from and I’m not really interested.”

Ferguson was also not really interested in talking to the BBC for post-match interviews after they reported some allegations he didn’t like. And interested or not, he won’t have liked what Rafa said, back in January.

Nobody seems to dispute the actual comments Rafa made. They are the type of comment normally resulting in an invitation from the FA to “explain” their meaning. But the FA didn’t extend that invitation to Rafa – preferring to let them pass. Perhaps they didn’t really want Rafa to go into too much detail over the sheet of “facts” he had been reading from.

Rafa said, in January, that Ferguson had been “complaining about the fixtures, yet they played on December 29, when everyone else played on December 28. How could he complain about that? The other option is Mr Ferguson organises the fixtures and everything in his office and sends them to us. Simple.”

Well Ferguson was still complaining about the same type of thing today: “One or two players were a little bit short today in terms of what we expect of them but I do know the football was good, we kept driving on and they showed good energy, even though we only had two and a half days to prepare for the match.” Rafa is more likely to crack a smile than “crack up” when he hears that excuse for the 4-1 scoreline, which gave Liverpool a double in the league against their arch-rivals.

Liverpool fans expected problems with the referee today. All fans do when playing away at one of their main rivals. But Steve Bennett’s performance in this fixture last season is difficult to explain – perhaps he’ll oblige on day, with the help a tabloid’s hidden tape recorder.

Rafa discussed referees at Old Trafford in January too: “We know what happens each time we go to Old Trafford,” said Rafa. “Mr Scolari [then Chelsea boss] needs to know so that maybe he can use zonal marking against the staff of United because they are always going man-to-man with the referees. They walk close to the referee at half-time and are talking, talking, talking.

“Only Mr Ferguson can talk about the fixtures, the referees and other things and nothing happens. We had a meeting about the Respect campaign in Manchester between the managers and the FA, and I was very clear. I said that we should forget the Respect campaign because Mr Ferguson was killing referees, killing Martin Atkinson, killing Keith Hackett. He was charged with improper conduct following comments about them but went unpunished.”

“He is the only manager in the English league who cannot be punished for these things. Respect started with the sending-off of Javier Mascherano at Old Trafford by Mr Steve Bennett. He was the referee when United played against Wigan and he couldn’t see the handball by Rio Ferdinand and didn’t give a penalty and they won the game and the title. I think it is the same referee who will be in charge of their game in hand against Wigan.”

Surprisingly, Bennett wasn’t given this fixture. But neither side had any legitimate complaints about the referee – Alan Wiley – despite two penalties and a sending off. Reina fell for an old trick from Park to concede the first penalty, Patrice Evra clearly tripped Gerrard in the box after being outpaced and Nemanja Vidic’s red came after he showed how they tackle in the rugby Super League Grand Finals that get played there every year. Ferguson didn’t even need to dig the old stopwatch out for injury time, with a reasonable four minutes added on at the end – although he probably wishes Wiley had just blown up on 90 minutes, when the score was still only 3-1.

Liverpool were just not supposed to win today. Starting ten points behind Manchester United – if you gave United the three points for their game in hand – had they lost then it would effectively be a thirteen point gap and Rafa’s critics would be out in force. But they won, and the gap is just four points, although the title is still United’s to lose, with a game in hand and a far-from difficult run-in.

Today is a day to celebrate what has been a momentous week for Liverpool fans, eight goals in two games against sides who thought Liverpool would be a pushover. But thoughts will soon turn to how Liverpool can put performances in like this yet struggle so much again some so-called lesser sides.

One thing Liverpool did right today, and on Tuesday, was take their chances. Van der Sar had less to do today than Casillas on Tuesday, but both keepers got backache from picking the ball out of the net four times. By the time Gerrard missed what seemed a sitter late on today, it was a missed chance nobody really cared about.

Liverpool were short on options today in terms of troops available to take part in the battle. Selling Keane without buying a replacement has left Liverpool short up front, and so a few days after playing with a pain killing injection and some meaty strapping around his ankle, Fernando Torres had to play through the pain again. But even half a Fernando Torres is more than twice the player Keane was in a Liverpool shirt.

At least Torres was fit enough to play today, unlike his Spanish team-mate Xabi Alonso. He missed out with a calf injury, his absence a worry for the Reds. Nearly sold in the summer, he has played arguably the best football of all his time at Anfield this season. His place was taken today by Lucas.

One position where Liverpool are very short of cover is right-back. And the only available right-back, Álvaro Arbeloa, did his hamstring during the warm-up. Rafa was forced into literally a last-minute change.

There were no other right-backs in the squad, so someone had to play out of position. Martin Skrtel is unlikely to play there again after attempts at Middlesbrough. Javier Mascherano played well there against Sunderland, but he was needed in midfield today to look after young Lucas.

So Rafa asked Carra if he’d move over, with Sami Hyypia starting in the centre of defence. Sami’s march towards legendary status continues, as he showed today, so that was no worry. The concern was how Carra would cope at right-back. He’s never one to shirk his duties, never afraid to throw his body on the line, but when a player like Carra has made it clear he now finds that position to be too physically demanding he really does mean it.

There was little need to worry, perhaps boosted by who it was he was playing against, he showed once again why Rafa has relied so heavily on him ever since he took the job on. Whether Carra will be watching footy on TV tomorrow or not depends on whether he’s got a TV in his bathroom, because he’ll probably need to spend the day bathing his legs in ice cubes.

Ji-Sung Park won the penalty that opened the scoring on 23 minutes. He pulled off one of the oldest tricks in the penalty-earning book. He had little chance of doing very much with the ball, but seeing the keeper go to ground in an attempt to take ball off him all he had to do was kick the ball away from the keeper. By then the keeper was committed, and with no ball to try and get a hand to first, he slid into Park’s legs. Reina will kick himself for that, although he had a good attempt at saving the Cristiano Ronaldo penalty that followed. It still went in, United were 1-0 up.

Surely United were about to start the rout. Not if the Reds from Liverpool could help it, and the grey-shirted side set about embarrassing the Red Devils of Manchester.

Fernando Torres started the rout, just five minutes after Liverpool had gone behind. Forcing a mistake from Nemanja Vidic, having a day he really wants to forget, the Spanish striker kept his head, used his pace and beat Edwin van der Sar. It was 1-1, and Torres was delighted. He knows what these matches mean. He showed much of the passion he showed on Tuesday when he helped to ruin Real Madrid.

Then Liverpool edged in front. There was a minute left until half-time, and Steven Gerrard left Patrice Evra with no choice but to bring him down. Referee Alan Wiley showed he wasn’t keen on being the subject of a future Rafa outburst, and did something referees don’t do too often – awarded a penalty against the home side at Old Trafford.

Gerrard took the penalty he’d earned for himself, beating Van der Sar and putting his side in front. He couldn’t hide his delight, his celebrations including kissing the TV camera in that corner of the ground.

It was Gerrard who was fouled as the game neared the end, when Vidic wrestled him to the ground 25 yards from goal. Vidic got sent off, despite the usual protests. Gerrard resisted the temptation to take the free-kick himself, allowed Fabio Aurelio to do the honours. It was a perfect free-kick, Van der Sar was beaten, Liverpool were 3-1 up.

Andrea Dossena, who had been brought on for Albert Riera, got his second ever Liverpool goal – days after getting his first. Like on Tuesday, he got Liverpool’s fourth goal, the one that didn’t make any difference to the outcome but helped to show the world just what Liverpool can do. Today’s goal came after a quick and perfect kick up field from Pepe Reina, Dossena lobbing the goalkeeper from distance.

By then, vast expanses of seats at Old Trafford were empty. United’s fans couldn’t get away fast enough.

After the game Gerrard said of the way Liverpool had played: “It was magnificent, a great team performance. From front to back we worked very hard today, showed great character after going a goal down and it was a magnificent win. In the end it was comfortable with a man being sent off, but I think we were men today, we controlled the game. It’s not very often you see Manchester United getting beat 4-1 at home.”

Speaking to Sky Sports, he was asked if this gave Liverpool a chance of the league: “The important thing is that we have made the gap smaller,” he said. “We realise that Manchester United are a fantastic team and there’s still a lot of work to do. We’ll need a little bit of luck along the way but hopefully that gives teams that are going to play here a bit of belief that they can be beaten. And hopefully it will give us a lot of confidence to go on and win as many games as we can.”

He’d never scored at Old Trafford before, and that added some extra gloss to what was a brilliant day: “I’ve been lucky enough to experience winning here before and that was also a magnificent feeling, but to score a goal after all the stick I’ve had from United fans over the last 10 years – well, it’s nice to score and rub it in a bit.”

Boss Rafael Benítez said Gerrard and team-mate Torres were vital parts of his team: “These two are our key players and when they are on the pitch the others have more confidence because they know they will score goals – the understanding between them both is better. When you don’t have one of them it’s a big loss.”

Of course as good a feeling as it is to win 4-1 in a game like this, it could be better. Rafa said: “The best weeks are when you win titles not games. We won this battle but we need to win the war. Obviously we are in a better position now and in football everything can happen. I’m more optimistic but I’m also realistic.”

And again, that quote from Ferguson, the man who said he’d need to read the works of a psychiatrist before he could understand Rafa’s accusations. “I thought we were the better team but the score doesn’t reflect that.”

Now who’s cracking up?

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33 thoughts on “Reds demolish Devils 4-1 in cracking win”

  1. you may have your day in the sun you bunch of scumbags!!!!
    but remember just over a week ago the supposedly SUPER REds(shitbags!!!)
    got beaten by middlesborough!!! Tossers!!!
    its just a pity 4 liverpool that beating man u doesnt win you a trophy!!!
    come may we will have our day lifting a REAL trophy that you wish you could win!!!!

  2. Hi Gary,

    Thanks for taking the time to respond at what must be a time of deep pain.

  3. @ Liverpool scum..

    Im laughin at that reply, the fact you took the time to come on here and write it shows just how bad you are hurting. Its nice however to know that even Man Utd fans take time out to read and contribute to this great site.

    And what was the fella donig singing ‘country road’ at old trafford before kick off. How very very embarrissing for the home support. lol.

    The reds were magnificiant today. Rafa and the boys did us proud. No complaints at all from me. Lets just keep it up.

    And getting Utd in the next round of the European cup also aint such a bad thing anymore.

    We totally outclassed them today. It goes to show that an in form, hungry Liverpool team are the real deal.

    What a week.

  4. When even Andy Gray has to bow to the thrashing we gave United today, you know the performance was top draw.

    How is that winning a game of football can feel so great!

    Rafa’s taken alot of stick from so-called experts in the stands. What a record we have against the top-four this season, although Stevie G and Torres have only started 9 out of 29 games (so i heard) together this season. At least, no-one should begrudge him a new contract now.

    I hope all Man Utd fans reading this site keeping coming back. We can give them a similar caning (in words) that the team gave their boys today!

  5. cantos,

    how about starting your post with an apology to benitez? this doesnt take the good feelings of this week from me, but the critics like you need to swallow some of your ill-thought words.

  6. @ cory

    apologies for what. The fact that some poor selection and tactics at home cost us a hatful of points and possibly the title.

    I dont think so.

    Weve had a great week, theres no doubt. But 10 home draws against lesser opposition has cost us heavily.

    Yeah Rafa got it bang on this week and i love him for it, but over the majority of the season, he’s been way off.

    Maybe he should apologise to the fans for all of his mistakes and political rants and demands. Then we could all call it a draw and get on with the serious business of winning the league and not making stupid contract demands in the middle of the season.

    Cory take your blinkers off mate.

  7. @ Jim Boardman, your such a gentleman! Me I would have told him in no uncertain terms “It begins in F and ends in F”
    Today could not get much better in terms of a result, beating them at the theatre of prawns!

  8. regards the “liverpool scum” comments
    – How sad are you – you Bonehead ? going out of your way to come onto a LFC website and type some small minded moronic words…- like we give shit what you think !..

    Man utd are close to winning every trophy and your still p***ed off ! – QUALITY !

  9. Rafa’s taking the team forward.

    To all those who called for his head; are you still doing that now?

    However, there’s plenty of time for that chat (at the end of the season).

    Now just enjoy the moment, the victories, the performance and the knowledge that if, yes if, we can keep our match-winners fit we are a match for anybody.

    PS Any of you guys read the newspapers this morning AFTER the game? I did. they made for magnificent reading (and terrible predictions).

    PPS Did any of you watch Football Focus AFTER the game? I did! Lawrenson and Keown. Ghosh! How embarassed they must be tonight

    PPS If this is what Heaven’s like, we’re all going to sleep wonderfully well tonight!!

  10. If only we hadnt drawn so many games this season, As good as today’s win was, it could have been all the more sweater.
    if we had taken more points against the Stoke’s, Fulham’s etc
    Just Imagine it , the title could have been won in Manchester today .- now that would have been just fantastic. The look on Ferguson’s face would have made the 19 yr wait well worth it.

    let’s hope the Manc’s are knocked sideways by this defeat and lose a couple more games ..

  11. @ Liverpool scum……..who goes on another teams website to talk shit….you;’re an absolute joke and you typify what mancs are all about. youre so PISSED at losing you get on a Liverpool fan website and spill a load of curses!! CLASSY…..also, I remember we got hammered 3-0 at the theatre of prawns last season and the Liverpool fans in the lock in sang themselves silly…….today though YOU LOT WE GONE BEFORE 80MINS……PLASTIC FANS!!!!!!!!!!!!

  12. Guys what do you think of dossena in his new role of right winger????? he is so good at finding free space drifing from the left whan the ball is going to be crossed from the right wing.

  13. FACT
    Liverpool 4 Man United 1

    Well done to the team, the manager, Sammy Lee, & the fans!

  14. Once again Rafa proves his worth which is even more remarkable considering the turmoil he’s had to endure within the club. I’m sure this is the reason he hasn’t signed a new contract. In Gerrard and Torres without doubt, we have 2 of the best players in the world . United were were well beaten and utterly demoralised at the finish. Trophies aside, it doesn’t get much better than this. This was like the Liverpool of old and bodes well for the future. ENJOY !

  15. @LCF Malta

    Mate i agree, he looked more comfortable yesterday than ever before. He’s no full back, but what a sweet touch for the goal.

    Oh how i wish we could have beat the likes of Stoke earlier in the season, the title would have been ours.

  16. Hi guys,
    What a wonderful result! Top drawer. I’m lovin’ it!!

    But …..

    ….. if ManUre do start dropping points and so do Liverpool then the significance of this win is non-existant. It will just be a big win against perennial and historic rivals.

    Sure, let us enjoy the victory of yesterday but Liverpool must now win every game left – I do not care if it is pretty or not, the result is all that matters. Let us do what ManUre do and that is grind out victories when we have to and make sure that we win the matches we should do.

    Let us get behind the management and the players – if the real Reds get a maximum bag of points we will have to only ponder over the easy points dropped before today and not about any further points losses after yesterday’s result. I think ManUre will draw 2 more matches max but those could turn to losses.

    Let me use an analogy – remember Istanbul – this could be our Premiership Istanbul where we pull it back and win.

    C’mon you Reds !

  17. I’ve been taking a second look at Uniteds run-in:

    There are a lot of ex-Reds (a lot of strikers & Danny Murphy) standing between them and the title.

    Saturday, 21 March 2009
    Fulham v Man Utd, 15:00

    Sunday, 5 April 2009
    Man Utd v Aston Villa, 16:00

    Saturday, 11 April 2009
    Sunderland v Man Utd, 15:00

    Wednesday, 22 April 2009
    Man Utd v Portsmouth, 20:00

    Saturday, 25 April 2009
    Man Utd v Tottenham, 17:30

    Saturday, 9 May 2009
    Man Utd v Man City, 15:00

    Saturday, 16 May 2009
    Man Utd v Arsenal, 15:00

    C’mon lads YNMA!

  18. the boys done us proud on sat battled back from 1 nil down shows the mentality they have and should produce week in week out if united win the league this season it hasnt been because their a great team its because weve given the title to them with our draws against lesser clubs and those twoo dreadful losses to spurs and boro. but we’ll just have to consentrate on the rest of the season and not on utd come on boys do us proud. this is to rafa see what happens when you make the right selections against real and utd

  19. cantos,

    you take the good with the bad, and if i thought that someone could do better than rafa with the resources and environment that he works with, then id want him to go too.

    i do think that if you are unable to be supporter rather than a critic in the difficult times, then you have less of a “moral” right to celebrate the good times.

    but supporters dont need to fight each other. you are a critic of rafa though, even if you are a liverpool supporter, and so to you and all of rafas other critics, i say 4-1, stuff you! the believers in rafa had a great week. i shouldnt like to be in your position of almost wishing negative things.

  20. It was a beautiful thing to see the team playing with such confidence and character in the self styled, yet muted “Theatre of Dreams”. The mind boggles if we could get 75000+ Liverpool fans in the new staduim as the noise would blow the roof off!!

    Sammi… continue to write your own LFC history and a stellar performance. Lucas……….I am not your biggest fan by any stretch of the imagination but credit where it is due, a solid performance in midfield and some incisive forward passing. A step in the right direction.

    Shame that the Manchester United fans were not sporting enough to support their team through till the end. With sarcastic echoes of Rafa’s cracking up coming from the Kopites it was the icing on the cake.

    Excellent photos in the papers of Gerrard kissing the badge in the TV camera whilst the Mancs in The Stetford End showed their despair.

    Torres’s desire and pace for his first goal was just breathtaking. At least the title race looks interesting again and it feels so good to be part of it.

    This win in particular will boost the players confidence and they now really know that on thier day they can beat anyone, anywhere. Fact.

    Well done Rafa, Sami & the players. It has been a beautiful week and one every Liverpool fan should savour and enjoy. I just cant stop smiling.

  21. @ Iskoppa…….Thanks!

    It says it all when in Istanbul our fans sang, with lung bursting gusto out at half time when being three nil down and with only hope in our hearts The Milan fans were in utter shock and confusion!

    And then you have the MUFC fans, despite all of their recent success, could not even bother to last the end of the game. I would like to tyhink had the roled been reversed that would never happen at Anfield.

    We are a special club with special fans and we are LIVERPOOL! An honour to be part of it.

  22. @ cory

    Mate if you followed the team home and away, week in week out as i do i would take that off you.

    But you dont, so i wont. If you believe Rafa has done no wrong this year then that just shows how little you undertand about the club.

    Yes im not in the Benitez blind faith club, but i can credit the man on a great, sensible week. But that said it doesnt forgive him for the outrageous amount of bread and butter points dropped at home this season.

    I wish him every success and i just hope he has finally learnt his lessons.

    Second place and a Europeen cup aint so bad a season anyway, but you never know………..

  23. Cantos

    I went to the Wigan and Stoke away games(unfortunately!!), and the team for these games was very similar to the one that played saturday and beat the manc’s so easily. So i dont think you can blame Rafa. The team just werent performing then and key players were not 100 % fit.

  24. @ Red Storm

    Excellent article by Tomkins. I recommend it to anyone that cares to challenge the idea that Rafa’s operating on the same budget as his competitors.

    It’s been such a magnificent week I can barely get any work done. I think I’ve watched the games against Madrid 10 times and the United Game a dozen times already.

    I know, I know, we’ve not won the league and it’s a tall order to think we will but to win by such margins and play the way we did shows what we’re capable of. Now we’ve got to keep our best players fit and the squad believing in the impossible dream.

    Rafa’s had his critics this season but no-one can look at the bench against United and think we were anywhere near competitive. Scholes, Giggs, Berbatov, Nani all guys that could change a game – while we lost Arbeloa, the guy who would keep the balance on the right, and the solidity in defence with Carragher and Skrtel. Yet against the odds but very much in keeping with Rafa’s Liverpool we turned them over.

    Those who still want Rafa gone, good luck to you. But those like me who want and expect Rafa to stay have to hope he gets one or two of the gems he really wants this summer to compliment a team can/will progress like he’s done every season so far.

    Walk on guys – and Julie! – regardless of what happens between now and the end of the season, i say, we know what’s possible; and that’s everything!

  25. @ Midlands Red.

    Funnily enough I watched the highlights of the Man U game again this afternoon and on second viewing it truly was a thoroughbred performance. We excelled in a number of areas and controlled the game in midfield. I was worried when Alonso did not make it but Mascherano and Lucas were superb. Lucas’s best game for us.

    Rather than caving in after the penalty we stayed calm and focused. Just how good was Torres? I thought he was a sensation at Atletico but he is a phenomenon at Liverpool.

    His running of the channels and movement in and around defenders is a masterclass for any striker. What I like most is that he does not shy away from the phsyical challenges and no matter how much he is knocked he will get right back up again. That must be so demoralising for any defender. Vidic is no slouch and he was left for dead for the first goal. His five fingered salute to the Stretford End was poetic.

    Torres turn on Rio left him standing and had it not been for OShea covering, it could have left Rio looking as red faced as his shirt.

    Our defence made Ronaldo a ghost rather than FIFA World Player of the Year. No mean feat as he is truly lethal when on top form. The result may not ultimately decide the title for this season (sadly) but if anything should be forever written in the players psyche, it is this: This Liverpool Team are good enough to beat ANY team, ANYWHERE.

    What we now need is the consistency and the solid focus to beat the likes of Sunderland and Stoke. It hurts to think we can play like this against the best but slip up against lesser opposition…but we are certainly improving year on year.

    Anything can still happen in the title race. If Man U can win 11 games on the trot, the Reds have a target of winning 9. Psychologically we must be in a good place right now and what better time to put a winning streak together. If not for this season, then surely as a marker for next season.

    It will be very interesting to see what the summer transfer market brings. I personally would like us to go for broke and bring in the likes of David Villa to compliment Torres as we lack enough gamechangers in our squad. We have a solid foundation to build from but need at least two additions to the front line for next year.

    The Tomkins column highlighted the financial gap, which we all know about, but I would like to see less of a revolving door policy from Rafa and quality additions to the frontline rather than midfield where we have a good line up.

    Fellow Reds fans…..who would you like to see as transfer targets?

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