The scene opened with Sky Sports latest super-slow-mo montage for Premiership The Movie. Football! Drama! Passion! Balls! Everything else! You'd have to be that donkey from the Winnie the Pooh books not to be salivating at the merest whiff of what was about to come.
Eventually the curtains rose and we were confronted with the punditry ensemble of Ray Wilkins, an insightful hybrid of a tired bank manager and The Penguin from Tim Burton's Batman Returns, and Graeme Souness, a woeful knob. They promised us ninety minutes of sparks, lightning, ballet and war that would finally illuminate our glum, overdrawn little existences, and holy-eventual-accuracy Batman, they were right.
The starting line-ups fielded no surprises, 11 players each, male, all wearing boots. Man United were clad in all white today, which would have been a huge relief to Wes Brown as on the occasions they don their all black ensemble he's completely indistinguishable from a giant Duracell battery. Sky's slick graphics filled us in on the personnel, but seeing Kuyt, Lucas, Merieles and Aurellio all turn around and march towards the screen in unison felt like watching some sort of nightmarish gyspy boyband practice their moves in the back of a social club.
Football eventually commenced though and for the vast majority of the first half there was only one team in it. Whether Liverpool's complete strangulation of service to United's front two was planned or not it left their opponents looking baffled and panicky. Despite the fact Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs have roughly 8 billion games under their belt at this level, they were repeatedly denied a chance to make any sort of incisive move and forced Wayne Rooney to come so deep that virtually 80% of the watching world will have made a reference to grandmothers and sex.
Suarez executed a turn that left Rafael looking like a Subbuteo player who had just spotted his mother in the arms of another man
In true Man United style though they nearly went ahead when Count Berbatov grazed the post from distance following a wasteful moment from the otherwise dazzling Suarez. The Uruguayan was soon to make up for it though when, looking short of options, he executed a turn that left Rafael looking like a Subbuteo player who had just spotted his mother in the arms of another man. He then jinked past two despairing lunges with the poise and grace of 10,000 pretentious swans before sliding the ball through the legs of the big Dutch mouse for Dirk Kuyt to lash it home from less than a yard. Pandemonium.
The Dutchman had been employed in his patented “John Leslie role” where he sat about hounding and chasing the defenders around until they finally showed him a chink of emotional weakness where in he would thrust himself repeatedly, almost getting through on goal when he gave Smalling the willies and forced him to trip over the ball. All this pressure paid off when Nani, attempting an unchallenged clearance, floated an exquisite header over his own team for Kuyt to grab his second.
Things went from bad to 'worst day evah' for the Portuguese Chris Kamara when Jamie Carragher, a man whose finesse and technique are as warm and as gentle as his seductive accent and inviting facial lines, decided to give shin pad companies the world over a boost in sales. Scything through the winger he somehow managed to lacerate the leg through sock, skin and reinforced plastic and would have probably have been sent off if Nani's initial reaction of running around, pointing, rolling and crying hadn't been quite so hilarious.
Things then kicked off big-time when, mere moments later, Rafael flung himself high and hard into a 50/50. Both teams clashed near the touchline whilst Phil Dowd, looking every piece the unimpressed daycare bouncer, watched on and let them sort it out amongst themselves.
The Kop, which to me just sounds like a giant packet of Scouse crisps that somebody's rustling in time to a load of show tunes, were in full-voice at this point
With all these silky exchanges of passes and spit it was hard to keep up, but luckily for us Sky had appointed Glenn Hoddle to hold our hands, stroke our hair and explain what all the scary things we were witnessing actually meant. One small problem with this plan was that, in the midst of captivatingly fiery game of football, we were being MC'd by a man so bland Ken Barlow would probably avoid him at parties. After an hour his umming and ahhing had just become awkward and he began to have the feel of man trying to read a gas-meter at an orgy.
The second-half was much the same, Liverpool pressed high, United struggled to generate momentum, at times the football was very pleasing to watch, at times they just wanted to kick giant lumps out of each other. It swung back and forth and started to fizzle out just past the hour mark. At times I was almost willing a United goal, if only to bring the contest back to the boil for a while but the killer blow duly arrived when, wait for it... Dirk Kuyt reacted first so lash the third goal in from, wait for it... less than a yard and ensured he'll never, ever have to buy a pint in Liverpool for as long as he lives.
The game started to wind down and we all patiently waited for Paul Scholes to pick up his customary yellow card. 83rd minute, in case you were wondering.
The Kop, which to me just sounds like a giant packet of Scouse crisps that somebody's rustling in time to a load of showtunes, were in full-voice at this point and not even a consolation goal from Sigourney Weaver lookalike Hernandez couldn't dampen the mood. There was even a sighting of the £35million Andy Carroll who, you'll be astounded to hear, won a few headers.
Despite being thoroughly out of the title race at this point Liverpool absolutely deserved this win, at times their play was as beautiful and well woven as the world's last Weetabix and, if they're not careful, they might end up doing something next season. Ferguson on the other hand, after refusing to be put through the intense journalistic scrutiny of an interview with MUTV, will have to ponder precisely why he didn't start with Darren Fletcher or buy any new midfielders in January.
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