Manchester United fans may not want to hear it, but the Anfield atmosphere was incredible last Thursday.
The noise around the start of the game and the rendition of 'You'll Never Walk Alone' which went on and on long after the music had stopped led to Liverpool acquaintances saying it had been the best atmosphere since the day when Steven Gerrard slipped. Well, before he slipped, obviously. Others said it was their best European night since they beat Real Madrid 4-0 in 2009.
I am not saying this as a neutral, but the noise inside Anfield was magnificent, more so when both goals were scored.
Standing among the noisy 2,700 United fans in the away end, Andy Cole reckons the noise was so loud that he wanted to play football again for the first time since retiring eight years ago. It is a shame some of those wearing white in front (the visiting players, not the fans) did not perform, but, just as was the case against Midtjylland in the last round, United’s players have a chance of redemption in the second leg at Old Trafford.
And they will have a better chance if seventy odd thousand fans in the old stadium are as loud as they can be.
The last time United lost the first leg of a second tier European competition 2-0 away from home was against Barcelona in 1984. Many of those who attended the return leg at Old Trafford maintain it is the best atmosphere they have ever experienced. A Bryan Robson inspired United won 3-0 against Diego Maradona et al. It can be done.
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This United side are not vintage, but then nor are Liverpool. Their players hate the wide spaces of the big Mancunian pitch and playing in a cauldron of noise will only tire their legs further and sap their Scouse souls.
United fans have exceptional songs to inspire and encourage – which they should focus on. Singing about disasters is not going to help anyone, and it will bring possible sanctions from Uefa in future games. And how bad would that look?
United fans are surely better than that and need to be at their best for the visit of the second most successful team in domestic English football, the 18-time league champions.
It will be difficult to come back from 2-0 down, just as it was against Olympiakos two years ago during equally challenging times under David Moyes. Liverpool are a far greater foe than Olympiakos and they need to feel that from the minute they walk out.
United fans have much to complain about, but for one night only the cynicism and sniping needs to stop. The players, especially the new ones who talk about understanding the importance of the games without really understanding what United and Liverpool means to fans, need to experience the best Old Trafford atmosphere since Barcelona in 2008 or the League Cup second leg against City in 2010.
Players who have joined United in these uncertain times should see how brilliant it can be.
Marcos Rojo played in front of noisier fans in Argentina, Matteo Darmian in Italy and Bastian Schweinsteiger in Germany. They all need to learn how noisy Old Trafford can be, just like they were told it would be. Scientists once registered the noise level of the Stretford End and it was louder than a jumbo jet at take-off point.
United’s players saw how loud Anfield was. Please do not let that be their enduring memory of a great European football night in England.
Old Trafford can do it; it needs to do it. It should be so deafening that the glasses on Jurgen Klopp – a man who knows a thing about a decent atmosphere – shatter and he cannot see. So loud that it hurts Louis van Gaal’s ears and he has to stand up and scream at his players to make himself heard.
Every stand should be bouncing so that even Sir Alex Ferguson does an awkward dance while twirling Ed Woodward’s Paul Smith scarf above his head. Well, it would be better than a half and half United/Liverpool scarf.
It should be so loud that David Gill gets up on his feet too. On second thoughts, we do not want the former chief executive banging his head on the main stand roof.
Old Trafford needs to be rocking, ears need to be ringing. The 3,000 travelling Scousers should be returning to Liverpool, out of Europe and with Mancunian accents buzzing around their heads so strongly that they start to sound Manc and pronounce the word ‘chicken’ properly.
Liverpool fans did their bit in the first leg.
Now it is United’s time in the second, a time for a wall of sound that comes from the hearts of the fans, not club initiatives or trite words from players about fans being important.
The fans will be there long after the current squad have gone. If they can’t give it everything, how can they expect the same from the players?
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