It is 3pm on Sunday afternoon as I write this. I have only managed to get out of bed now after what has to go down as one of the greatest days in my life yesterday. It is not everyday we beat United 4 – 1 at Old Trafford so I had to celebrate after that game and celebrate I did! I will be honest that before the game I was not too confident up the game. I thought that after a great win in midweek against Real Madrid we were going to be our usual bad selves following a big midweek Champions League win. All the talk before the game was about us having to win if we had any chance of winning the league. And I am glad our players proved me wrong and they were up to the fight against United.
When I saw the teams walk out onto the field I was a bit surprised to see Sami Hyypia there, only to hear that Arbeloa had suffered an injury in training. Credit must go to Sami. He was called upon at the last minute for such a big game and he did not let us down. For all the millions United have spent buying players, there is no price tag you can put on the experience of a player like Hyypia. Then I saw my not so favourite player, Lucas, in the starting lineup. I thought to myself, “Oh no! What is he doing in place of Alonso?” Only to hear that Alonso is out injured. Okay, we just had to make do with Lucas in the middle of the park. How special would it have been if Jay Spearing had gotten the nod to start in such a big game? I guess his time will come.
So kickoff came. I watched the game at a local pub which is traditionally a Manchester United supporters pub and the atmosphere in the pub was electric as you have 30 plus commentators giving you full coverage all at once! There were also a number of Arsenal supporters and they were also backing us.
When Reina brought down Park to concede the penalty, my first thoughts were that it was not a penalty but looking at the replay it was pretty clear cut. For some reason I thought that Reina was going to save Ronaldo’s spot kick but alas it was not meant to be. When Ronaldo scored I had that sinking feeling that this may not be our day. But credit to the lads for putting up the fight they did and thank Vidic for having the nightmare game he had! Why he did not clear the ball first time when Torres pounced on him remains a mystery to me. Vidic has been the rock in the United team this season with many saying that he should be named the player of the season. But yesterday he had a BAD day at the office. Torres made him look like a school boy defender when he got the ball away from him and then Torres had the calmness and presence of mind to slot the ball past Van der Saar. 1-1, game on!
From that moment we were now in control and the next goal in the game was going to be crucial and we got it! Thanks to some brilliant play from Torres again, he slotted a through ball for Gerrard who was then hacked down by Evra, penalty! There was no debating this one as it was as clear as they get. And this penalty came at a great time for us, just a few minutes before half time. Up steps Captain Fantastic and I never had a doubt, he expertly slotted the penalty away. 2-1, we were in charge!
From the start of the second half, there really looked like there was only going to be one winner in the game at that was us. The next goal was going to be crucial and when Gerrard went past Vidic and the big man pulled Gerrard down there was only ever going to be one outcome, red card for Vidic to add more misery to his day. When Vidic got sent off I was a happy man as I knew that United were going to struggle. What I did not expect was the goal to follow from the resulting freekick. Aurelio..you beauty!! They say Aurelio is one of our best dead ball specialists and he showed us that. He is Brazilian after all so we should get used to more freekicks like that. Freekicks to not get better than that. It was a great sight seeing Van der Saar routed to the spot as he just watched the ball sail into the back of the net. 3-1! Game over!!
I laughed when I saw Sir Alex make 3 changes at once. Those were really desperate measures. Giggs, Scholes and Berbatov all coming on at once. One thing it showed though is the quality of the United squad which is a reason they are where they are in the league. When you can call upon 3 players of that quality off the bench, you have something special.
As the minutes passed by, United offered nothing in the form of attack and the result was in the bag for us. But there was still drama and up pops Dossena to make it 4! What a finish by Dossena! Another player I have not been a fan of this season but he has now popped up with two goals in two games for us. His lob over Van der Saar was special. For a defender to have that presence of mind is impressive!
As the Old Trafford scoreboard reflected 1-4, I could not believe it. I do not think I have ever seen Old Trafford get that empty before the final whistle as all the fans went home early.
Job well done lads now lets just win the last 9 games in the league and see where that leaves us. United can slip up again and we need to be hot on the heels.