The Classics Are Best

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Liverpool 3-1 Manchester Utd
Sunday, 6th March 2011

Following Sundays fantastic win over Manchester United, you get the feeling that things aren’t bad at all at Liverpool. Look back a few months – no money, no on form talent, a bewildered journeyman (no offence Roy) at the helm, disjointed performances and a real sour taste in the mouth of every Red around the globe.

If I told you back in December that Dirk Kuyt would have scored a hat-trick assisted by Luis Suarez (not to mention the fact he didn’t even play for us then) into United you would have buckled with laughter, correct? This goes to show the absolute turn-around that the King has given the club. But I’ll get onto that later, first the players need to be addressed.

Having dissected the game into tiny little sections with my cousin, a fellow diehard Red and my usual partner for the games, we were delighted to talk at length about just how much effort and determination the players put in. Our lads were first to every pass, seemed to have a better picture painted as to how the system was working, where each player would be, what runs were being made. We were brilliant from kick off to applauding the fans at the end.

United came to us as champions, looking to put us in our place and set a marker for their title charge, instead we(just like our Blue pretenders Chelsea) put them to the sword, we ran them off the pitch, we scared them. I’ve rarely seen such a clueless performance from a Ferguson side, and it was a joy to watch.

It was one of those performances that followed with a huge discussion about who was actually Man of the Match. Luis Suarez certainly made us aware of who he was on Sunday, Raul Meireles was back to his imperious best and was unlucky not to net himself, Stevie was back to a solid performance nothing too flash but he kept composed and used the ball well, and was unlucky not to get a goal himself with a couple of brilliant long range efforts. Lucas was a real enforcer, harrying and tackling their midfield, closing down space, and keeping possession. Maxi Rodriguez was another tidy player, he didn’t do too much but what he did, he did well.

The defence held its ground well (Javier Hernandez’ half-consolation aside), kept United well pressured, kept them from having a swagger and from being able to get into their stride. You can say United didn’t turn up but we didn’t let them turn up, we showed them how to harass, we defended from the front and kept our cool. There was plenty of selections for Man of the Match, they were all pretty much faultless.

But the man that takes it for me, even over Luis Suarez, was Dirk. Dirk the Destroyer. What a game he had. He kept the entire United defence occupied, harassing them in possession and not wasting it when hewas using the ball. Kuyt was a key part in all the goals, he kept people moving and watching his runs, he opened up space for Suarez, and obviously, bagged a hat-trick. A Hat-trick into United ! Who says the man dosen’t deserve a place in the side?

Dirk’s a player who I feel is undervalued. People see him lose the ball with a loose touch or get frustrated when he dosen’t glide by a player like he isn’t there. Kuyt spends his time instead opening space, covering ground, keeping the opposition busy, he even gets back and defends. Dirk Kuyt would run through walls for Liverpool, under Kenny he would steam head first into a tidal wave (and probably come out alright). It’s as if Dirk has batteries in his boots, he just keeps running and keeping things happening. He might not play a Ronaldinhoesque pass, he may not nutmeg a player, dance by three more and scoop it into the top corner, but he puts it in the net when we’re crying for it most, he turns up at the big occasion. People can argue that every top team needs a player like Kuyt, but it’s true. People like Kuyt can’t be valued in their goals, his sheer work-rate and determination, along with a clinical finish when it’s absolutely needed. I’ve lost count of the games I’ve been praying for a Liverpool goal, and bang there goes Dirk with a tidy finish.

However, to give Dirk two paragraphs mention and not mention everyone else in similar stances would seem a little harsh, as everybody played out their skins on Sunday. However, the first player to net a hat-trick into that lot certainly deserves plenty of praise, and I sincerely hope that Dirk shut his doubters right up yesterday, because he certainly shut me up for previous criticism. I’m not saying that Kuyt is now undroppable and should be our captain after that, but he certainly deserves more praise than he gets.

Another person who deserves huge praise is, obviously, Kenny Dalglish. The great man came back and has reinstalled an old school style of football to the club, the pass and move groove. The way it used to be I’m told. I’ve always believed that if you can see a player is trying his hardest, you can see everything he’s doing isn’t half attempted and sloppy, that he covers grass and plays for the team, that misplaced passes and such can be made up for. You can make up for a bad pass, you’ll certainly struggle to make up for being out of position and not trying for the team.

Very, very rarely have I found myself criticising a player recently. Why? Because they all break their necks game in game out for Kenny, the man has restored our pride, our faith, our commitment, and most importantly, our voice. Anfield sounded electric on Sunday, with Suarez’ song getting a little trial, it’s been a while since it was so vibrant. It’s great to see.

Overall, a great performance from the team, a real star show, and it goes a long way to show that we still have ‘our perch’, and that we still welcome the challenge.

To mark the end of the 30-year wait for a league title, the ‘Liverpool Mishmash’ poster is available to order exclusively on This Is Anfield — the history of the Reds in one image!

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