IT’S official: THE King has returned.
In an extraordinary turn of events at Merseyside, a short, but concise statement from Liverpool Football Club filled supporters with relief. A huge wave of optimism flooded back at Anfield, and the fans heard what they’ve all wanted to hear.
Roy Hodgson is no longer manager of Liverpool FC. Step up Kenny Dalglish, who takes charge in the interim and will rush back to England to face Manchester United in tomorrow’s clash at Old Trafford.
Much of the run-up to this clash has been built up on Hodgson’s future, with the club having to cancel its press conference which was scheduled at Friday 1pm. However, in a board meeting shortly after, it was decided that Hodgson was not the man to lead Liverpool, and the baton was passed on to the King.
More importantly – this is a man who is Liverpool through and through. He had always wanted to return to the Anfield hotseat to complete ‘unfinished business’. This is the man who is regarded as the best Liverpool player ever. Subsequently as manager he oversaw the Class of 87-88, and tomorrow, he will get his opportunity again.
The club is galvanised. The players are galvanised. Torres is, having admitted Kenny had a massive impact on him during his time at Liverpool FC. Liverpool will enter the clash tomorrow, full of hope, spark, invention, and renewed vigour. Kenny Dalglish is the man who commands respect from the players, and is the man Liverpool desperately need at this time.
Manchester United couldn’t have hoped for the worst possible news on the managerial front at Liverpool. Alex Ferguson will not be getting a free ride when he sends his team out tomorrow. His intention was to always praise Hodgson for his experience so, perhaps he could use his influence on the game to allow Hodgson to keep his job at Liverpool. Liverpool, will then be dismissed as a threat.
He will not get his wish now. The away side will fight for every ball, sweat blood and put their lives on the line just to get themselves into Kenny’s gaze.
What a turn of events, which shocked the footballing world. Just less than 12 hours ago, it was widely thought that Hodgson will be the man leading the club at Old Trafford. Not anymore.
King Kenny will have a full squad to choose from, bar defender Jamie Carragher, who still continues to recover from injury. Although I believe it is impossible for Kenny to impose his tactical style on the players in just less than 24 hours before kickoff, his aura will surely prompt the players to be in the firing line and put in their best shift yet.
Manchester United, on the other hand, will sweat over the fitness of the trio Edwin van der Sar, Rio Ferdinand and Wayne Rooney. Such is the importance of this fixture tomorrow that Sir Alex desperately needs his three key players to be fit tomorrow.
An interesting fact remains that the winners of the last four FA Cup clashes between Liverpool and Manchester United have gone on to lift the FA Cup that year. Annoyingly though, the last time Liverpool managed the victory was back in 1921, some 90 years ago.
Despite Liverpool’s woeful away form and poor record against their arch rivals, nothing will count when the Redman take to the field tomorrow. This, as Sir Alex put it, remains the ‘daddy of the derbies’. It is the biggest fixture in the footballing calendar, more so as compared to the El Classico. The fan base is incredible, the clash has all the hallmarks of a cracker. Speaking about form – it goes out of the window.
Manchester United, having suffered an embarassing 4-0 thrashing to the Hammers in the League Cup, will look for some reprieve. The memory of Beckford scoring at Old Trafford this time last year hurts the fans 30 miles down Anfield.
Throw in the fact that this is football’s biggest rivalry – come tomorrow at final whistle, we really have something to talk about.
And fingers crossed, we’ll be singing tomorrow like we never did in the past 18 months. Tomorrow could be incredible. Win, and the season could still go right for us.
Our last 5 fixtures against Manchester Untied at Old Trafford has brought 4 defeats, but one famous win. The 4-1 thrashing, with memories of a Dossena looping the ball over a shell shocked van der Sar in extra time. Oh, those times…..
And as a new era unfolds upon us tomorrow, the future of Liverpool FC is once again.. shining. And ‘at the end of a storm, there’s a golden sky’. The time has come.
Expected Liverpool lineup (4-2-3-1): Reina, Johnson, Agger, Skrtel, Aurelio, Lucas, Meireles, Kuyt, Gerrard, Maxi, Torres.
Manchester United 1-3 Liverpool
In the build up to one of the biggest clashes in world football, an email interview with @tokingpizzas has also been conducted. Here are the words of a Manchester United fan before the clash.
Q: Park’s absence means that United have one less big name player to turn to. Park is the man for big games, and he scored the winner against Arsenal in December 2010. Do you think United might come to rue the loss of Park come full time?
A: Park has done marvellously well this season, and I am incredibly impressed with him. After coming back from the WC with South Korea, many wrote him off for his poor performances time and again. Losing the ball and unable to make a simple pass being the two most prominent problems.
I still believed in him though, as he is my favourite player at United. He was always very strong-minded and diligent. Later on, he admitted he needs improve his game on MUTV website, and he did. He worked his way back to top form and began to score important goals for United and allowed us to sit at the top of the table now with a game against Blackpool in hand.
I am also really glad that Park was voted the player of the month for both November and December. Every United fan has to admit that he deserved it. He is a gifted runner off the ball, posesses tremendous movement, and a bottomless work-rate. His approach to the game is that of a model professional too. The drive and energy he adds is crucial in such big games. SAF admits that it would be a great loss for United to lose him, at such great form, to the Asian Cup and I share the same sentiments.
Nevertheless, United have been doing well without him, and I think we still have enough to clinch victory at OT in the absence of Park. Again, United may triumph against Liverpool but that does not mean Park’s loss is not crucial. We all know that big clubs do not have to depend on only one player. Park still plays an important role in United, and would start banging in goals again sooner or later. I personally hope he sees out his career as a professional footballer at United.
A fantastic professional.
Q: In Manchester United team news, Ferguson is hopeful that he will be able to call on the likes of van der Sar and Rooney. Just how crucial are these two players in order to snag a victory over arch rivals Liverpool?
A: Ferguson is undeniably eager, however time will be a healer for three of his first choice stars as he prepares for the blockbuster against Liverpool.
Apart from the two mentioned above, Ferdinand is another player Ferguson would want to see on his lineup this weekend. However, Ferguson would be equally delighted if two of them could make the starting XI.
For me, Rooney is almost in his best form. Despite missing a penalty v Arsenal, he has been working extremely hard, using his great vision and awareness to put more flow into United’s passing. The partnership with Berbatov has been quite brilliant, too. I think it is a must to play him against Liverpool.
On the other hand, I prefer Edwin to Kuszczak in goal. Edwin has made some neat saves and is still going strong. However, I feel that United’s unbeaten record is also a tribute to the back four in Rafael, Vidic, Ferdinand and Evra.
Q: Liverpool currently finds themselves in the wrong end of the table, but this clash will be hotly contested. It is well documented that Liverpool have won just 2 away games on the road. Do you see LFC getting anything out of this game?
A: Steven Gerrard has been a fantastic performer for Liverpool. He was the reason why Liverpool edged past Bolton on New Year’s Day. He could pose a severe threat to United if he takes his form into the clash.
He got two goals at Old Trafford last year, so who knows? He could pop in with another two this time.
I do not take the game against Liverpool as ‘there for the taking’. Football is unpredictable at times, and Liverpool fans are dejected and frustrated at their club’s performances and away records. However, it just takes 90 minutes of football to change everything. I think as long as Liverpool players put their heads into the game and dig deep, they might emerge victorious.
Q: Lastly, your predicted United team, and predicted score come full time?
A: Kuszczak, Rafael, Vidic, Ferdinand, Evra, Nani, Carrick, Anderson, Giggs, Berbatov, Rooney (4-4-2). My prediction? 2-0 to United.
You can follow @tokingpizzas on Twitter here.
You can also follow me on Twitter @redsonfire