The Liverpool number seven shirt is synonamous with greatness due to the past heroics of Kevin Keegan and Kenny Dalglish.
But few have attained legendary status since the deadly duo as the burden of following in their footsteps has proved too heavy for most. Robbie Keane left Anfield as a £20million misfit just seven months after fulfilling his dream of wearing the coveted shirt, even though I feel he wasn’t given enough time to settle in and prove his worth!
Luis Suarez was next in line when he joined in January, and his performance in this memorable win against Manchester United will help to ensure he is part of club folklore. While Dirk Kuyt claimed all 3 Liverpool goals, Suarez was inventive, superb, intelligent and inspirational as Liverpool dented their bitter arch-rivals’ hopes of a 19th league title which would surpass their own now joint record of 18.
The last Uruguayan to make such an impression at Anfield was Diego Forlan in 2002 when he scored twice past a clumsy Dudek in three minutes to give United a famous victory.
While Kenny Dalglish’s arrival as manager has provided a lift off the pitch, Suarez and Raul Meireles are making a big difference on it.
They were lively from start to finish, combining for a good chance in the 18th minute. Suarez swept a lovely crossfield pass out to Meireles on the left and his header into the box only just eluded Kuyt.
But Liverpool were not to be denied and it was the sublime skills of the number seven that produced the 34th minute opener.
Suarez had his back to goal when Sotiros Kyrgiakos played a pass into him. Yet he teased, tricked and turned Rafael, then Michael Carrick and Wes Brown, before slipping the ball through the legs of Edwin van der Sar to give Kuyt a tap-in from two yards. Anfield rose to acclaim a genius at work.
Suarez also played a part in Kuyt’s second and third goals. It was he who swung over the 39th minute cross that Nani bizarrely headed back to his own goal and there was Kuyt to power into the net.
The Dutchman then reacted quickest in the 65th minute to claim his first Liverpool hat trick – and the first in this fixture since Peter Beardsley in 1990 – after Van der Sar failed to hold a curling free kick from Suarez.
It was a stunning controlled display from a side who simply had the greater desire as the inflicted back-to-back Premier League defeats on United for just the second time in six years after their midweek loss at Chelsea.
While Sir Alex Ferguson will point to the reckless challenge by Jamie Carragher on Nani, who had to be stretchered off, should have merited a red card, United’s response was feeble and their opportunities fleeting in comparison, and as for Nani, he’s spent all season diving when any opposition player comes near him, so maybe this kind of tackle was heading his way!
Dimitar Berbatov struck the outside of the post with an instinctive volley before Meireles was perfectly placed on the line to block the Bulgarian’s header with his chest.
Andy Carroll was handed the perfect day for his debut following his £35million move from Newcastle United, and teed up Kuyt for a volley over.
Manchester United did grab an injury-time consolation when Javier Hernandez headed home a Ryan Giggs cross, his 10th Premier League goal of the season from, unbelievably, just his 14th shot on target, but it was not going to deny Liverpool a deserved standing ovation.
At half-time I was convinced that at 2-0 the game was far from over, and Manchester United being the team they are would find a way back, even when Kuyt completed his hat-trick I was still unsure of victory! In fact I spent the last few minutes clock watching, even as the clock turned to 85, 86, 87, 88, I wasn’t convinced Liverpool were going to win, but once they got the consolation goal I felt better as the entire Man United team were beaten!
Just to finish, I don’t think Manchester United are anywhere near as good as they were a few years ago, and if they fail to win the league this season, I can’t see them winning it again for a few years! I don’t know if any of you heard the BBC radio 5 live phone in after the match, if you didn’t then please download Alan Green’s podcast: http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/606 and fast forward to 29.00 minutes, and listen to the caller, this is the main reason people don’t like Manchester United, it’s not the club, it’s twats like this!