Our Captain Returns as Anfield Rocks
Today was one of those days in the life of Liverpool Football Club that would go down in its history for several different things. It was the first anniversary of the takeover by John W Henry and FSG. A take- over that saved the club from going into administration and signalled to the Premiership that Liverpool were on their way back.
To mark the anniversary, Tom Werner and minority shareholder Lebron James had flown in to watch this weekend's game. Now Lebron James is well known in the States due to his sporting exploits, but is now working for FSG in his guise as a marketing man to sell the club in America and the Far East and I sincerely hope that he enjoyed the game because going by the camera shots, he seemed totally bemused by it all.
Most importantly of course it was the day that our Captain returned to his rightful place in the team. A day, which had been earmarked several weeks ago by Kenny to ensure this, happened. Why because today was the day, that we would play Manchester United at Anfield.
The build-up to the game by the media had been massive with most of the papers devoting the whole of the last seven days to it. Two old adversaries were meeting once more and it was several days of waiting and watching to see who was going to win the war of words. Kenny of course was his usual jovial self, heaping praise on Sir Alex, but the usual mind games everyone was expecting from Sir Alex never materialised. Indeed we heard Sir Alex praising Kenny to the hilt; so much so, people began to think that he was going soft.
Sir Alex to his credit did write to his supporters to ensure that the awful chants that have been heard recently at the games were not repeated. There have been no reports of these being heard this afternoon, so it appears they heeded his words. Hopefully that will continue and another sad, sorry and unnecessary occurrence will be banished from football.
It was billed as the game of the season and as kick off approached and the teams were announced, questions began to be asked. The main one being, would Manchester United win today as the team Sir Alex appeared to have chosen what a lot of people would call his second string. Players such as Wayne Rooney, Hernandez and Nani had been left on the bench. Most importantly of course when the return of Steven Gerrard was announced, the next question was WOULD HE SCORE and would we see the Steven Gerrard of old?
The first half did not answer all those questions as both teams spent most of the time trying to prove their superiority. Both midfields were packed tight and there was very little continued movement with the ball. There were periods in the game where it looked as though things might happen. Luis Suarez sent the ball over the net after picking up a rebounded shot from Charlie Adam. Manchester United's Phil Jones picked up a ball from Patrice Evra which hit the side netting but other than that both goalkeepers had a really quiet half. Stevie was having trouble making the runs that we are all familiar with, but certainly let everyone know the Captain was back. He was all over the place, whilst Luis Suarez was playing as a lone striker and as the half moved on it, his frustration began to leak out. His looks and his movement showed that he was not a happy man.
There were of course the usual incidents from the Manchester United players, including Evra drawing a card in the air. Thankfully referee Andre Marriner ignore his stupidity and the game continued without any major problems until the whistle was blown to signal the ending of first half.
The second half began with neither manager making any changes and it appears that whatever was said in the Home dressing during half, had hit its mark. Liverpool came out a different team and it looked at times as though Manchester United could be trouble. Charlie Adam and Stevie G were having a wonderful game with both of them moving in and out of the midfield area. Luis Suarez found his feet, along with this twists and twirls but no goal was forthcoming, until the moment when Rio Ferdinand fouled him.
The resulting free kick, taken by Stevie G, was another of his classics and found its way through the United wall and into the back of the net. Liverpool was in the lead and a semi quiet Anfield erupted. The noise was deafening and became even louder when Wayne Rooney, Nani, Hernandez were introduced into the fray.
An introduction that would help Manchester United get the goal they had craved all afternoon. Unfortunately it came after yet another mistake by the Liverpool defence when Danny Welbeck picked up a ball, passed to Hernandez and the rest they say is history.
This seemed to awaken the Liverpool side a little more as Kenny chose to replace Lucas, who had, had his first bad game in a long time with Jordan Henderson. Suddenly the pass and move football was there once more for all too see and balls were being kicked into the area frequently. With the pace of the game picking up, our own Duracell bunny Dirk Kuyt had a shot saved. Jordan Henderson who I must admit has worried me, was all over the place and joined Stevie and Charlie trying to get the much wanted second goal. It was not too be though and the game finished as a score draw.
A score draw from a team in transition that were playing the champions Manchester United and yet people are still moaning. From the moment, the game finished the doom makers have been out slating Kenny, saying that players are not good enough and yet we had fantastic performances from Stevie, Dirk, Enrique who was magnificent, Charlie Adam and Jordan Henderson when he came on. I will admit Stewart Downing, Lucas and Luis Suarez who seems unable to score at the moment did not appear to have that great a game but these things happen. Nobody can be 100% every week, as much as we would love them to be and I honestly believe although the first half was not as good as it could have been, the players all put in a great effort and should be congratulated for that.
Think about to this time last year, we were in trouble and if today's game had been played then, I suspect United would have won by about 6 goals. They did not though, they the champions, only managed to draw with the team that finished sixth. That to me shows that we are improving, Kenny is doing what he has been paid to do and when we play the return leg at Old Trafford, who knows what the score will be. The doom makers amongst you may be in for one hell of a surprise.
I know I am looking forward to it and to the matches that will come before it. Matches that will show me Liverpool are definitely on their way back to where they belong.