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Advantage Liverpool as Manchester United see red and Chelsea lose to Tottenham

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Liverpool beat Aston Villa 5-0 – dubious penalties or not, it’s a well-deserved three points and on form, the title’s Liverpool’s to lose. Manchester United have serious, serious work to do now.

Well that was embarrassing…

Manchester United have broken all sorts of records this season – defensive records, champions league records – and then they’ve had moments like the Liverpool game last week and Fulham today, where they conceded one of their worst defeats in a long time and have now conceded 6 goals without reply, including 2 penalties and a free kick, not to mention receiving 3 red cards in the process.

I’ll be honest – if the roles were reversed and United had just beaten Liverpool at Anfield 4-1, and had seen Liverpool lose 2-0 away to Craven Cottage, and had Torres and Skrtel red carded, we’d not only be screaming in ecstasy, we’d be making sure everyone knew that Liverpool had lost their bottle.

So here it is – United have lost their will to win over the last two games, they’ve lost their discipline and they’ve conceded some ridiculous goals. I love this club and I have full faith that they can go on and still lift the title, but a repeat of this performance will almost certainly see them lose the title. They have 2 weeks now to regroup with the international break coming up, and it doesn’t matter if they have a game in hand now, they need to starting winning and certain players need to start performing.

Rooney’s red card will be a point of contention, so will Dowd’s refereeing and Ronaldo’s – well, Ronaldo himself. To be fair to Dowd when I saw Rooney throw the ball in real time I thought he’d thrown it in anger, which would give Dowd the right to show him a yellow card. Having said that, consider the following:

  • This was a team that was 2-0 down and had played with 10 men for most of the game.
  • Rooney had been on only since the start of the second half and his first yellow was on the 81st minute.
  • Watch the replay of the second yellow yourself here.

It’s a stretch to call it a yellow, but assuming that it is a yellow it’s understandable that United fans (myself included) will call this a very harsh decision and would have preferred to see Down decide in context of the game not solely look to apply the letter of the law.

But that was too late. We might have scrapped a goal back but two goals with 10 men down? It’s happened before in football but it wasn’t our night, it wasn’t going to be our night even with Rooney on.

The other story – apart from the Scholes red card which was, well, unfortunate but dead on – was Ronaldo and his impact on the game (or lack thereof). In the first half there were at least one decision that clearly merited a free kick but Ronaldo didn’t get it, other than that, and I’m quoting Amy Lawrence on this, moaned and groaned and flung his arms about like a pantomime dame.

There was a second incident where Pantsil trod on Ronaldo’s ankle from behind, but the referee never saw it and again Ronaldo went down. He did improve late in the second half, but the only other incident of note was Dowd losing his temper on Ronaldo for needlessly protesting every decision made by the referee. Dowd showed restraint at the time, perhaps he should have shown the same restraint on Rooney.

But that’s in the past. Manchester United will take solace in the fact that Chelsea lost at White Hart Lane, but Liverpool play Aston Villa at home tomorrow and in their form, you’d be foolish to bet against Rafa Benitez’s men. Whereas Tottenham have played well against top sides in recent years (their win against Chelsea means they’ve won 2 and drawn 2 of their last four games), Villa are without a win in March and Liverpool have scored 8 goals in their last two games.

It’s a massive game tomorrow – a Liverpool win would not only put them within a point of Manchester United (whose game in hand is looking increasingly crucial), it would also put them 3 points ahead of Chelsea, and you can rest assured that between tomorrow and 4th April every story about the Premier League will talk about Manchester United having lost the plot.

They’re still in pole position though, although with home games against Spurs, Arsenal and Man City to come along with a trip to the Riverside, their margin for error is all but gone along with their confidence and self-belief.

A final word for Fulham – well played, you thoroughly deserved the win and the 3 points.

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Comments (36)

  1. how the hell fergie left rooney on the bench…..he is tinkering too much for my liking. For the umpteenth time i say giggs and scholes can’t play together. They r a luxury and team can afford only 1. i think inly park and fletcher deserve to go in with their heads held high

  2. I hope Liverpool will win the league this season…

  3. good article Bilal, good to see proper man utd fans give an accurate and honest description of whats going on with your club and the performances recently.
    today’s game was crucial in gauging the psychological impact of last week’s mauling and it looks like it has had widespread effect considering past results against fulham this season. Rafa explicitly stated how he beat united last week so that others could follow it to put more pressure on the leaders. Looks like it worked, now all know that if Fulham can beat them, then so can anyone else if they play without fear.
    the title is not over if liverpool beat villa tomorrow, then we are going down to the wire especially with united still to play arsenal and city. this is going to be interesting!!

  4. its good to see ahmed and his beloved man u going through some torrid period in just 1 week. setting the records for the bad reasons as well they have set 4 good reasons. there is always pride and arrogance b/4 a fall, goodluck liverpool.

  5. ah good, the ABUs are out.

  6. You’re right, 2-0 down with 10 men, sending off Rooney with 5 minutes to go will not change the game. It was lost when Gera put that beyong VDS.

    And Rooney for all the lessons he’s learned in red cards decided to act stupid (with dissent) and now banned for next game is a testament of his temperament.

    As for neutrals, this opens up the title race and we maybe seeing the closest title race right up to the end since 2000. So brace yourselves.

    PS Ronaldo: The moment I see you play for Man U nowadays, I see a soul-less player playing just for himself. Dude, you’ve lost your passion and love for the club. Please leave the club and let the club profit from your sale.

  7. last year was pretty close – close than so far this year…

    Also, Liverpool must win all their games to have real hope of taking over a faltering United.

    Liverpool still have Arsenal and Tottenham to dispose…

  8. ManU will lose out on everything this year…
    despite I am a ManU fan…
    So disappointing.

    They just gave away their title to Liverpool

  9. Ohh I”m loving this, bring on Pool and United, and bring on a spot in Europe, now who was saying Spurs would be in a relegation battle all season???

  10. Dont blame the ref for Uniteds poor game! I hope Liverpool win the title they so deserve for their clean, skilled play!!

  11. liverpool and clean/skilled play is an oxymoron.

    i’m a lvpl fan, but really… two good games doth not make a title winning team

  12. I really loved the fact that Manu lost. they just play stupidly and deserved to loose. Hope Liverpool wins the same.

  13. Don’t put it past liverpool to choke at the last minute too. It’s happened so many times this season.

  14. this is it all or nothing for Liverpool, 1 match at a time… if we dont beat Villa our title dreams are over (funny i feel like i’ve said that before)

  15. There’s a lot to be disappointed about if you’re a Manchester United fan. Rooney’s immaturity continues to hurt the club (although it didn’t cost them this match, but he’ll be suspended for the next match). The defense had another shaky game. Players turned the ball over cheaply.

    However, the biggest disappointment has to be Ronaldo. Someone else mentioned that he looks like he’s just going through the motions out there. On most nights, a disinterested and bored Ronaldo is still better than 90% of the players in the world. However, when he’s also acting like a spoiled child and too busy yelling at the ref to track back and defend, then he just takes up space on the pitch. Last season, whenever he was in the game, you felt like he could make a difference. Whether it be converting a stunning free kick, delivering a brilliant cross, or improvising a run into the box and beating a confused defense and goalkeeper with ease, you expected him to come through. Now, you’re only surprised that he hasn’t been sent off more than he has already been.

    If this is the Ronaldo that United can count on from here on out, then I say let him go to Real.

  16. You got it spot on Ahmed. still feel we are gonna win it in the end and in my opinion this is only prolonging the wait as inevitably the PL title will return to the theartre of dreams.

  17. 5-0 will do nicely, now to swap fixtures with United and see if we can better each others results. Liverpool have hit form later than id have liked but it is very possible that the title could be coming to merseyside.

  18. first and formost, Ronaldo played like a little whinging girl who at the drop of a hat kicked and screamed like the 23 yr old spoilt brat that he is, he shouldve been shown the dressing room a lot earlier. secondly, i don’t care what anyone sayd, rooney deserved what he got. I have never seen a more arrogant manchester united side who feel as if there position in the ladder warrants better (more biased) treatment from the ref on the pitch.. im glad man u lost, for the second embarrassing time in 7 days. maybe it’ll bring you back down to earth and think that the world doesn’t revolve around the red. the one point buffer they have at the top will come crashing down after they play chelsea and arsenal

  19. bit late there pete,we have already humiliated chelsea,3-0 remember?

  20. Pete is one of those whingers who supports some crappy team that Man United probably beat 5-0 a couple of seasons ago or something, and is still angry about it. Funny to see that there are people in this world who actually don’t possess brains. Manchester United are arrogant how exactly? they played their hearts out in the second half! and despite being 2-0 down with nine men on the field, Tevez and Fletcher were still going after every ball like it was the last they’d ever receive. Ronaldo got hacked down at every turn and suddenly he’s the little girl, the little girls are players like Pogatetz who are so scared that he’d score that they choke slam him to the ground in the penalty area, whilst the ref pretends not to notice. Yep, more biased treatment for Manchester United, I could go on long into the night about the numerous disallowed goals and fouls this side has have had to put up with yet when we actually GET a fair decision its all aboard the “United win things so they must be cheating” band wagon. I guess a wagon fits perfectly with your red neck pete, doesn’t it?

  21. funny that – i support arsenal douchebags – remember – the other team that humiliated you?
    nice one boys

  22. Oh Arsenal? The team with the bunch of foreign nicker wearing nancy boys who faint when they get tackled and are struggling for 4th place and could only beat Roma on penalties (A team United beat 8-3 and 3-0 on aggregate) And wasn’t it Arshavin who was pretending to roll about in agony after a challenge, but was fine to take a free kick all of 2 seconds later? Ye thought so, check out your bunch of divers first before you start moaning and whinging about a side 10 points better off in the league.

  23. nice one pete

  24. Pete mate ur the most pathetic arsenal supporter ive read write. Why dont u go worry about ur team and how they cant buy a trophy in 4 years now and will probably wont win one for another 4. I wouldnt be acting or smart if i were u.
    Top of the league and THAT’S A FACT!!!!! and only when its not a fact ( which could be really soon the way were going)
    can anyone bag me for it:P:P:P

  25. i wouldnt be acting ALL smart is what i meant

  26. some fickle man utd fans are saying SAF has lost the plot. i don’t think so but i do question the decision to play scholes and giggs? And ronaldo. can’t he leave ronaldo on the bench? it is obvious he is not interested in playing for the team. Only for himself.

  27. BD Condell,Where for art thou in this, United’s hour of need ?

    • @Jofrad – probably taking in the sharp decline in recent United fortunes with far less joy than you, I believe.

      Like I’ve said to BD (privately) before, don’t be so quick to gloat in public – if it happens, you’ll have plenty of time for that during the summer. Or you guys could get delusional about ‘it being your year next season’. Business as usual then? :)

  28. I think nani should be given a run in the team with ronaldo on the bench, unitil he gets his appetite for the game back and his will to work for the team, he can do it, I’ve seen it on MUTV!

  29. I thought Rooney was brilliant when he came on; there was a period when Fulham were under serious pressure and it looked if United would get the equalizer and possibly go on to win it. Rooney was at the hub of this good work until he lost his head. He needs to calm down, because at the minute he’s United’s biggest attacking threat. It’s still United’s to lose.

  30. Great Article! Looking at the red card at 81st min was a 60/40 chance of getting the 2nd yellow. Many neutrels would have seen Rooney in showing some dissent to the game/referee.

    English game is highly discipline and culture-aka traditional. By displaying a small , unwanted gesture, players can earned themselves hundred thousands pounds of fine and even months off the game plus civil services to the public. Rem Cantona? 150community hours to teach kids how to play football.

    As for C.R, i totally agree that he is no longer playing for passion and winning. He is now merely show-casing himselves for Big clubs to pick him up. Well….if we are him, earning that huge rolls of cash… you will never be satisfied, you be still looking at other huge rolls of cashs!!!

    Good point- he should be sold to get messi but i hope Man utd dun get messi.

  31. i want wigan to win!!!!!!!!!!!!! i believe wigan can win EPL this season!!!!!! they will win all the match and become champion!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! i believe in you wigan!!!!!!!!!!!!

  32. #30 I think BD should be able (or willing) to speak for himself. You will note in none of my posts do I make make any delusional predictions. Indeed very few predictions at all other than that Liverpool are really alive again after many years and that Rafa is the man to take them forward.
    What I do find endless amusing are BD’s comical star-gazing and the fact that many Man U fans think that the success they’ve had in recent years (and Liverpool used to have) can go on forever without a break.
    Get my drift ??)

  33. And who’s gloating ?? Surely I have every right to be pleased with my team’s recent performance, more so in view BD’s patronising comments. Its just that I’d like the man to stop hiding behind the sofa when his team go tits up.
    Notice no delusional predictions !

  34. How a United fan can continue to discuss Liverpool with such regularity will always amaze me.

  35. Because Liverpool will always be United’s greatest rivals and it irates them to death.