“Matt Busby is without the doubt the greatest manager that ever lived.
“I am not saying I think he is the greatest manager, I am saying he is the greatest manager. Facts can prove that.”– Bill Shankly
There was an air of grace and refreshing honesty when Bill Shankly spoke these words, given the keen enmity that Liverpool and Manchester United shared. Shankly’s words may have come before Sir Alex Ferguson’s modern day magnificence but they bring measure to Busby’s almost non-quantifiable effect on Manchester United and English football as a whole.
The rivalry has perhaps grown more bitter and fierce as the years wore on. Occasional violence, callous words and sly provoking persisted from both sides as Manchester United rose to compete with their foes from the other end of the East Lancs Road. From 1963, Liverpool and United locked horns in a vicious fight for English supremacy.
Why always him?
It is said people condemn what they don’t understand. People find it hard to understand Mario Balotelli, so he has been condemned. People began to understand at the back of last season and during his commendable Euro 2012 displays, but since then, Balotelli’s candle has dwindled. People have gone from almost accepting, to condemning again.
He’s different. Just, too different.
From the minute the Palermo-born striker attended an interview sporting the colours of AC Milan whilst being an Inter player, Balotelli has always magnetised controversy. Practicing his darts at youth team players probably wasn’t one of his finer moments, nor was setting fireworks off in his house but surely if he as explosive on the pitch as he was in his bathroom, all his exuberant antics would be forgiven?
Exploring Manchester United's Midfield Transfer Targets: Strootman, Wanyama, Fellaini, Cabaya And Tiote
"You can never say never in football because you don’t know who might become available but, speaking generally, I am not looking to do any serious transfer business in January.”
Sir Alex Ferguson loves to tease. Last summer he ruled out signing Robin Van Persie before swooping like a hawk to steal him from the clutches of neighbours Manchester City and this January, Ferguson has already denied that Manchester United will be doing any “serious transfer business” this time round.
Manchester United arrived into 2013 seven points clear atop the Premier League and on a run of five wins in six games including a win at noisy neighbours and reigning champions Manchester City. They have qualified for the Champions League knockout phase after dismantling their group yet the jigsaw still seems incomplete.
Missing piece? A complete midfielder.
Football is different today.
It is a gold mine for the sugar daddies of this planet, a playground of merciless merry-go-rounds, slippery slides and twisting tunnels.
The greatest success for Liverpool Football Club, and for English football, came off the football field. Liverpool’s League Cup success meant little to them. This year will be remembered by the enormous Hillsborough justice campaign.
“Today’s report is black and white. The Liverpool fans were not the cause of the disaster” - David Cameron
If a quote from a Prime Minister has ever hit home harder than this, I believe you’d struggle to find it. Mr Cameron’s comments swathed himself with dignity and commendable revere; but the horrific truth still remains.
Imagine losing a family member, imagine being told that family member was to blame, that you’re wrong, to go away, to move on, for 23 years. Imagine.
The tale of the ugly duckling is a timeless tale of searching for one’s identity. The animals tell the ugly duckling that if he wants to be taken seriously he must behave accordingly. Despite the hindrance, this ‘ugly duckling’ continued to seek his heritage by doing the one thing he loves most: playing football.
From the ugly duckling to the most beautiful swan in the pond, Lucas Leiva has evolved into one of Liverpool’s shining lights and one of the Premier League’s prominent holding midfielders.
For all this, we have Rafael Benitez to thank. There could have been few people in Britain who were sure of Lucas Leiva and his ability when he came to these shores in 2007. Captain of the Brazilian youth side as well as former club Gremio, he had a reputation to live up to as well as a £5 million price tag; a package he struggled to match in his first two seasons.
November 22nd 2008 was the defining day in Lucas’ Liverpool career.
After a home encounter with Fulham in which the Brazilian was picked ahead of fan favourite, Xabi Alonso, and the crowd and critics let their feelings known following a disappointing performance.