As a Liverpool fan, it’s obviously not often that I thank Manchester United for anything.
However, as they fell apart in the Manchester derby on Sunday, I thanked them not only for putting an unexpected smile on my face with the huge margin of their defeat, but also giving me, and hopefully others, a sense of perspective in these early stages of the season.
Despite the fact that it was United’s heaviest defeat in centuries, the first time they had conceded six at home since Moses was delivering the sermon on the mount, etc etc, no one seems to be predicting doom and gloom for the rest of the season, or saying they won’t qualify for Champions League football or calling for Sir Alex Ferguson to get the sack or any other nonsense.
Contrast this with a few short weeks ago when Liverpool slumped to a 4-0 defeat away at Spurs. Like United they were playing a side highly likely to finish in the top six, come the end of the season.
Like United they were only one goal down when they had a player sent off. However, at this point, subsequent events start to diverge.
With only one player off the field, United capitulated at home. Liverpool were dealt another, justified, red card and it was only then, with nine men, that the floodgates opened for Spurs to score another three.
I consider the United defeat to be a worse result for them than the Liverpool result was for the Reds, but this is not the primary reason for drawing a comparison.
When Liverpool lost, the doom mongers were out in force in the media, saying that Liverpool were not capable of challenging for the top four positions this season, that manager Kenny Dalglish’s signings were all rubbish, that Dalglish doesn’t know what he is doing etc etc.
At this point, I also ask you to consider what the reaction would be if Liverpool lost 6-1 at home to Everton.
Why should there be such a difference in reaction following the Liverpool defeat at Spurs and the United loss to City? Is it because Dalglish is a relatively ‘new’ manager (at least this time around)?
If so, surely he should be given more leeway when suffering a heavy defeat than the vastly experienced Ferguson? Is it because United are proven winners and a strong side, so this is just a ‘blip’ that is not worth worrying about in the great scheme of things and the season as a whole? Or is it because the media are too scared to criticise the great Sir Alex?
Maybe it’s a combination of all those things and more. However, for me it just serves to illustrate that not too much can be read into a single result, even if it is a horrendous result, especially so early in the season.
Spurs themselves were hammered 5-1 by Manchester City and are climbing up the table, Arsenal lost 8-2 at Old Trafford, but now seem to have hit a run of form, and what about QPR?
They lost 6-0 away at Fulham barely three weeks ago, but at the weekend held on to beat Chelsea. Any team can beat another, and the Barclays Premier League is all the more exciting for it.
Sunday’s Manchester derby result has meant that I no longer feel so heavy-hearted when I think about that Liverpool defeat at Spurs. We currently lie in sixth place, only four points off Chelsea in third, so everything is still up for grabs.
It is an often quoted phrase, but it is true that nothing is won before Christmas.