LAST week, after Newcastle, I would have paid close to five figures to have a couple of weeks break from watching the Mighty Reds.
The international break, for once, seemed like something I could really get behind; not that I would spend it watching England or anything demented like that, more that I wouldn’t have to watch Liverpool and their unparalleled ability to piss us all off.
Seven days in I’m clucking around the house, in full addict mode, convincing myself that The Reds are actually boss, the league table is some media bullshit propaganda and playing Manchester United at home is the best fixture we could possibly wish for in our current predicament.
Part of the brilliance of the human brain is its ability to sugar coat our memories, to blank out or water down the bad stuff and lash all of the good stuff right at the front. This probably explains my willingness to play United next, I mean, we have got a good record against them, haven’t we?
In a word, no. Since the Premier League began, The Reds have played United in the league 50 times. Of them 50, we have won 13, lost 27 and drawn 10. Shite that, isn’t it? We have lost over twice as many games as we have won, in what is probably our second most important fixture of the year, second only to playing and beating the Blueshite.
When you stop and think about it, they did have their greatest ever manager in post, with a couple of their greatest ever teams, whilst we were lurching from saviour to saviour and their associated five-year plans, and then took the worst turn ever into a Roy Hodgson, Tom Hicks and George Gillett cul-de-sac. It’s reasonable to think we would have a poor record against them overall given all that has gone on, but there’s no way it was that bleak when we were good, is it?
There’s no fucking way it was that bad under Rafa Benitez. 12 games, eight defeats, three wins, one draw. Fucks’ sake Rafa, what were you playing at you big chess-playing prick? I thought you were the man for the big occasion?
OK, what about Brenno Rodgers, I remember a couple of great days out there. Surely he must be better than that. Seven games, five defeats, two wins. Fucking fraudulent cartoon shark-headed fucker, the two wins were against Davy Moyes for fucks’ sake.
OK, what about since they didn’t have their greatest ever manager, they have been shite since then pretty much. No fucking way it is that… Eight games, four defeats, two wins, two draws.
Ah, right. Pretty consistent that, isn’t it? We have got a situation whereby Man United beat us twice as often as we beat them, regardless of the context. As a great man once said, “I can’t take much more of this fucking shit.” (Ben Johnson, 2017, after Newcastle, with his head in his hands.)
I am sick of clutching at the scraps lashed down by the universe. When the establishment’s own Alex Ferguson was in charge it felt at times like we were destined never to win again. Forced to scrap about in comforting tittle tattle, like when Ferguson apparently shat his kecks on the side of the M60, or the time that fella volleyed him in the balls while he was waiting for the train. I got through many a bleak second half thinking about him on his knees, clutching his groin with a mix of anguish, agony and disbelief etched across his face.
Rafa’s three wins were up there with the best I ever experienced but for every one of those victories, there were two agonising, excruciating defeats, where Ferguson’s pain after the bollock kicking paled into insignificance to that felt by the Kopites watching the same old shit play out in front of our eyes.
Staying up in Sydney to watch The Reds get beat 1-0 when Rio Ferdinand legged one into the top bin and having to get the first ferry home like a baghead at 6am in the morning. Staying up In L.A. to watch The Reds kick off at 5am in some Bluenose’s bar, only to find out they wouldn’t serve ale till half time, by which point The Reds were well on their way to getting beat 2-0.
Watching the John O’Shea winner go in and then trying to be sick in The Kop. Watching David Beckham run in front of The Kop arms aloft. Wayne Rooney’s winner against Jürgen Klopp’s Reds when they hadn’t so much as kicked the ball all game. The one where Jerzy Dudek lashed in Diego Forlan’s only two shots on target in England. Outplaying them at Old Trafford only for Brad Jones to have a lovely sit down every time they got near our goal. When Sami Hyypia got sent after 10 minutes and they spent the day toying with us, like a cat with an unfit mouse.
We can’t take any more of this shit Liverpool, we refuse to take any more of this shit.
They say you can’t enjoy the highs without experiencing the lows and by Christ we have known some lows in this fixture. That’s probably why our victories stick out so much, why they crowd our memory banks until we think our achievements are greater than they actually are.
Close your eyes and take 10 minutes to think about Rafa’s lads, clad in all grey, laying siege. Think about the David N’Gog 2-0 and the state of town after it, the Ry Babs sausage dinner which shook the ground to its knees, the Ste Gerrard, Luis Suarez 3-0 at their place which could have been six, the Suarez hat trick even though somehow they were all attributed to Dirk Kuyt.
Think about them games and imagine having twice as many memories to cherish. Think about those games and imagine having twice as many nights out that didn’t involve trying to forget the match; that didn’t involve conversations running dry until someone breaks the silence with a heartfelt “bastards”.
Think about all of that going into next week. Make no bones about it, this is a bigger game for Liverpool than it is for Manchester United. They will be happy with a draw no questions asked. They will be expecting to turn up, sit tight, and be gifted a couple of chances to score. They will be confident.
The Reds will be desperate to make amends for a shite few weeks; to prove to the league that we are challengers, that we can defend, that we haven’t gone shite overnight.
This, Liverpool, is an opportunity to make amends for years of suffering. This is an opportunity to beat these horrible pricks before they even get out the changing rooms, to set the tone for years of domination in this fixture and let them know what it’s like to lose this frigging fixture.
Let’s get into a big alcohol breakfast, Redmen.
Let’s get into these, Redmen.
Let’s fucking go.
To listen to part one and two of The Rivals show, looking back on Liverpool’s rivalry with Manchester United over the years, SUBSCRIBE to TAW Player. A subscription also gives you access to our podcast archive – here are some of the highlights so far…
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