January is one of the year’s less charming months. The Christmas hilarity is long gone and the Easter break seems a million miles away. The return to work this year has been particularly painful for some of us and, despite the fact that we’ve had so much decent sport to watch, the month ends on a pretty big downer.
The vintage of January 2012 was going so well. The dust was settling on another pulsating clasico, there was a humdinger of a match between Federer and Nadal and we were still basking in the glow of our victory over Arsenal. Then we went to Anfield.
The behaviour of the Liverpool fans was predictably woeful and it is unsurprising that an arrest warrant has been issued for one of their supporters who used a racist gesture. It beggars belief that they remain unwilling to take responsibility for such appalling conduct. That is their business, I suppose.
There were also reports of Hillsborough chants coming out of the United section. I didn’t hear them but if that is the case then I apologise wholeheartedly on behalf of every true Manchester United fan. That is not something we either tolerate or condone.
It was a horrible game to lose, in a horrible way and there was very little for either club to be proud of in this fixture. United played the better football but the story of our season has been that we seem to lack ruthlessness, and it showed again.
Scholes is more than welcome back from retirement. His passing held us together for the first sixty minutes of the match, but he faded visibly after that. It was precisely at this time that Liverpool started to make inroads and Dalglish really trumped Fergie by getting his substitutions out first and more effectively.
We began to look very leggy towards the end of the match and you could sense that our good work up until that point was going to go to waste. Saying that, a replay at Old Trafford would have been unwelcome and I for one will be very happy to see the back of Liverpool after the league fixture in a couple of weeks. They can spend the rest of their season spreading their hatred and racism elsewhere.
So, a frustrating end to the month for United but there is nothing to do but dust ourselves down and face the next challenges with fortitude and lessons learnt. With Chelsea, Spurs and Liverpool on the horizon there is never a dull moment. They are still our players, this is still our team and I am proud of them all.
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