Juan Mata is a wonderful man. From the moment he helicoptered in looking like a model from Saga’s boating magazine he’s had the keys to my heart. But I’m not going to lie, I’ve felt like asking for them back quite a few times, mostly after he’s played hide and seek at away games when I’ve specifically asked him not to. Van Gaal clearly doesn’t approve either as he’d recently banished Juan to the Falcao memorial bench. In his absence, Herrera had caught my eye, the completely wonderful little jinky midfield creator and all round nice young man that he is. But then came Spurs, with a tremendous Mata contribution from the right wing, followed by a blog post in which saved his most effusive praise for the Whitworth Art Gallery, where he “was really surprised by some of Cai Guo-Qiang’s works and his drawing technique using gunpowder.” You win at life Juan.
But then came yesterday. Even after the performance against Tottenham it was a surprise that he was selected again, partly because of that hide and seek malarkey, but also because our Dear Leader Louis has been instinctively cautious away from home since the Leicester debacle. And if there is a fixture where caution would be understandable it would be against the Scouse at Anfield. If it had been down to me I’d have gone with a 10-0-0 formation. But I’m a coward. But blow me down with a feather, there was Mata on the right wing again with Herrera just to the left of him. Football purists around the world fainted with joy and for the second weekend running it worked a treat.
I wouldn’t set your watch by it, but roughly speaking United play well at Anfield about as often as we experience a full solar eclipse. The last time it happened the Class of 92 had not quite mastered the art of stubble yet. It’s particularly irritating, as Liverpool have done so at Old Trafford relatively regularly, most guttingly in their 3-0 win against Gollum’s boys last season. The 3-0 United romp at home this season was some measure of revenge, but the performance was not as dominant as the scoreline might suggest. Annoyingly, having thoroughly enjoyed Brendan Rodger’s post match interviews praising his brave boys as they slipped towards oblivion before Christmas, his side hadn’t lost since, leaving them two points behind United. Since our own club temporarily morphed into Arsenal and a top four place became our only goal, in the words of the immortal Daniel Dyer, things were getting a bit “didgy”. Not ‘alf guv’nor.
So, despite the uplifting, morale boosting win over Spurs, Louis and Juan must have gone to Anfield with some trepidation. Actually, I’ll retract that. Louis doesn’t do trepidation and Juan will have spent the coach ride to Liverpool staring intently out of the coach window, notepad in hand, looking for different species of butterflies. Ok, it was just me who was bricking it, and I wasn’t on a coach. Just forget I said anything. Anyway, it was a worry. When the teams were announced there was a terrible confusion of emotions, joy for the aesthete and positive thinker and woe for the disciples of the post-King Power conservatism. For most it was a combination of both. Not that we need have worried, because United started with class, control and tempo and it was our Juan who broke the deadlock with a calm finish from a positively pornographic through ball from Ander Herrera. And then, a coronary inducing miss from Adam Lallana aside, it was all rather comfortable. Indeed, I’d go as far as to say that it was a piece of p*ss. Gary Neville proclaimed that this was the best that United had played at Anfield in his lifetime. It sounded like hyperbole until I gave it some thought and realised that he’s probably right. Lordy.
Half time passed in a flash and on came Captain Courageous, Stevie G, to save the day. Here was a man who Martin Tyler was absolutely certain could provide the fairytale that his every word of commentary yearns for every week. Given that United winning is never a fairytale this gets a bit f*cking grating. Gerrard has a happy knack for producing at just the right time. When he was good at football such interventions were entirely positive for Liverpool. He was annoyingly remarkable. However, his slip last season, denying his side the best chance of a title they’ve had in 25 years and himself the last chance he’ll ever have, was just the footballing Gods conspiring to p*ss pure comedy down upon the English game. I couldn’t have written a better and less plausible work of fiction. I thought the fun had ended there. But no. On he came, prompting Martin Tyler to feverishly announce that Gerrard has “an encyclopaedic knowledge of what it needs in this fixture.” Presumably stamping on Ander Herrera’s leg wasn’t the plan. “Oh no”, said Martin. So off he went after less than 40 seconds. Cue A and E departments the world over being swamped by cases of cracked ribs. I’m sure there’s an olde Germanic word for circumstances such as this. Bonus points should be awarded to Herrera for the sh*thouse rolling around having looked up to see if the referee had seen and was preparing to deal with the challenge. United have needed to grow so cheatsticles for quite some time.
Against ten men you’d have expected United to run riot. Actually, I’ll amend that. You’d have expected any side other than United to have run riot. Mata, with his utterly stupendous bicycle kick lulled us into a false sense of security. In actuality, the team decided to knock off for the fortnight thereafter, prompting a recovery from the home side and a goal which left us to endure 25 of the most excruciating moments of our lives. A missed spot-kick by the Premier League’s worst first-choice penalty taker ever added a teeny tiny bit of annoyance to proceedings, but the final whistle blew and United fans everywhere danced like their grandads, then, if they’re anything like me, collapsed into a catatonic state of exhaustion for a good hour. Since then I’ve been bathing in my own bodily fluids while, if RAWK is anything to go by, the Scousers have been boiling in their own p*ss. Martin Atkinson, you see, was bent. No matter that he should sent Martin Skrtel for a heinous stamp on David De Gea. Foul was cried. One frequenter of bins opined, “Atkinson was pathetic. You could see the guilt in his eyes giving yellow to Mancs.” I always study the referees eyes for signs of guilt and on this occasion I’d have to say that I respectfully disagree. According to another, “Money won and football lost today”, a fine point given that Rodgers’ Liverpool side have all been grown from magic beans. Finally, one poor soul admitted that, “It’s hard being a Liverpool fan.” Mwahahahahahahahaha.
The perfect day ended with Louis wumming the entire Scouse nation by implying that, a rousing rendition of You’ll Never Walk Alone aside, Anfield was like a morgue. There speaks a man who has just found his team’s ‘on’ switch. His timing couldn’t be better, because with a fearsome run-in to the Premier League campaign things were starting to get a tad scary. At last he’s flopped out those epic gonads of his and windmilled his c*ck at those of us who were struggling to see the direction his side were taking, although in fairness nobody imagined that the team would ‘click’ like this almost instantaneously. But it has, and suddenly second place looks as likely as fourth. Which is nice.
So all is well with the world, as we enter the most pleasurable international break for some time. We have two weeks to wallow in the buzz that can only be created by winning at Anfield, whilst Liverpool fans have a fortnight to wallow in bitterness and misery. *insert sigh of contentment here*. Mata starred and declared in his blog that his goals were moments that he “would never forget”, to add to the weekly experience that he always assures us he will never forget. He also referenced El Classico and praised Karim Benzema for his “plasticity”. It’s a nonsense, and yet everything that Juan does makes total sense once more.
I’ll leave you with a brief interaction between two RAWK users.
RAWKite A: “Rooney missing a penalty was nice though.”
RAWKite B: “it was like God having the decency to throw you a towel after he’s p*ssed on you.”
Perfect, just perfect.