Saturday, 8th December 2001
I arrived at my seat just in time to hear the teams and from that moment on I was convinced that we were on a winner. The game kicked off and we were easily holding our own - in fact our midfield were very much in control despite the attempts of a certain Irishman to take over the refereeing duties. We lined up with Sinclair on the left, Hutch on the right with Carrick and Cole in the middle but it was more fluid than that with everyone taking up covering positions if someone went on a run. We were even treated to the sight of Paolo covering!
My confidence was increased by the sight of David James at his commanding best in the penalty area catching and punching everything within reach, and Repka and Dailly covering any run that the Manc midfield tried. Only once did Repka commit himself to a tackle he shouldn't have and Dailly never put a foot wrong all afternoon.
Winterburn and Schemmell were the full backs and they kept so much pressure going forward that the Reds could hardly get down our flanks.
The highlight of the first half was a booking for the Manc debutant centre-half O'shea which brought a temple-throbbing outburst from Keane for which he was booked. To add insult to injury Durkin moved the free kick forward 10 yards for arguing (hahahaha). The Manc fans were not happy.
The second half was played in much the same vein and finally we broke through with Di Canio getting the ball and crossing for Defoe (surely the smallest player on the field) to head home the winner.
It was only in the last ten minutes that we were under any pressure but even then it was well controlled. We seem to have a lot of leaders out there nowadays. Repka and James being the main two who seemed to be everywhere. Even the introduction of young Beckham didn't make any difference.......earlier in the day we had met his Dad and discovered he doesn't like it if you have a go at his lad, hehe.
The final whistle went and we had pulled of the shock of the day. You could see the delight on the faces of the players - in particular Di Canio, who went down on all fours and had one of his passionate moments.
The only negative point was Camara replacing Defoe as a late substitute. Why him? Surely one of the younger players deserved a five minute bow rather than the unfit and uninterested mercenary that Camara seems to be?
Tuning in to the radio on the way home it was lovely to hear Ferguson blame Durkin for not giving the Mancs a clear penalty and then complain about how tired his primadonnas were. He even attacked Durkin saying he used to be a good referee but not now and he never gives them anything. Anyone else would be on an FA charge for that but not the dour Scot...
To sum up it was a fantastic team display, the best I have seen since last years FA cup game at Old Trafford with everyone making a contribution. I have left out the fact that Keane should have been sent off at least three times as I never saw it until I watched the highlights on telly, but that can't happen at Old Trafford, can it?
Well done Glen and the boys ......
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