By Ivan Lim
Since Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure as manager of Manchester United in 2013, they’ve seen their great team mired in mid-table mediocrity for protracted periods while struggling with various coaches to replicate the Scot’s success in the league.
Then came the ignominy of watching their great rivals Liverpool blazing to their first title in 30 years last season, while their illustrious neighbours Manchester City came in a distant second. The Red Devils managed only a miserable third place, 33 points behind the champions.
Now, after a series of astonishing upsets, amazing miracles and wonderful refereeing decisions, Manchester United fans find themselves sniffing the rarefied air at the top of the table, three points ahead of champions Liverpool.
It’s a great time to be a Manchester United fan. And there’s no better time than now for the Red Devils to visit Anfield.
Totally siao about Manchester United. Pretends to be impartial but hates Liverpool with every bone of his body.
“Yeah! We’re on top of Liverpool and, of course, it feels great!” exclaims Royston. “The ear-to-ear grin on any Manchester United supporter now would probably exceed the width – handle to handle – of the Premier League trophy,” he adds, grinning.
“After seven seasons in the wilderness, three managers and a billion pounds down the chute, it’s about time United started to get things right,” says the event host who never expected Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to take Manchester United anywhere near the top of the table this season, especially not in January.
“The word is ‘surprised’,” he says. “I call it Ole's ding dong selection and it was very frustrating to watch United play, especially with Victor Lindelof and Harry Maguire in partnership in central defence. It’s a hopeless defence pairing that is just leaking in too many goals. Poor David de Gea must be living in a nightmare with these two clowns in front of him,” adds the emcee, trying to sound like a pundit.
“I have been a strong supporter of Ole as team manager because he understands the culture of Manchester United. However, I didn't believe that he would be the right manager to win them trophies the way Sir Alex did. There are so many things against Solskjaer taking the team forward especially with Ed Woodward and the board calling the shots from above. Now, the board has no choice but to back Solskjaer, so sign two or three players – a right back, a central defender and a defensive midfielder – during the transfer window in order for United to make a hard, strong run with the team to the finishing line,” says Royston, trying to sound like an analyst.
Meanwhile, there’s the prospect of that all-important visit to Merseyside.
“I’ve been waiting for this – go to Anfield and take three points. It’s the right time for revenge for me – to silence the fools and make them crawl beneath United. This is war!” he says, trying to sound like a terrorist.
His message to Liverpool fans:
“You were hoping to win the title again this year? Sorry, we're taking the title away from you when we go to Anfield. You can wait another 30 years.”
The erstwhile Solskjaer Tan of Football Siao and probably the most equanimous Manchester United fam you might find on this planet. Even his war cry to Liverpool fans is politely cryptic and involves a Disney hero.
“It's been a while since United are at the top of the table; it feels unfamiliar but we could get used to this again,” says Terence. And he admits he never thought United would be top of the table at this stage.
“Nope, didn't see it coming,” he says. “Ole's team selection has been really odd alright, but I would like to think that some of his selections were based on the bigger picture of building team culture, for instance, sticking with under-performers to build their confidence. I believe what he is doing with the team culture is right, I just didn't imagine that United would go top so soon. Well, it’s also because Liverpool slipped up badly,” he adds, probably hoping for Liverpool to do just that again on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Terence hopes that United do not become complacent, or allow the refreshing view from the table top to get to their heads.
“I hope they don't suffer from vertigo. They are in a process of rebuilding for the long term and I hope that they take these games one at a time, do what is right for the team culture, and the wins will follow. By team culture, it also means arresting ‘locker room poison’.
“I have often said we need to get rid of Paul Pogba, but he seemed a little different in recent days, like contradicting his agent and saying that he is happy at United. The two could just be doing the good cop bad cop thing, or it could be Solskjaer's hard work at turning these deviants around,” says Terence.
But what’s important, says Terence, is the task at hand: taking three points from this match.
“It’s absolutely crucial because this season might go right down to the wire and every point counts,” he adds.
Terence believes that anything can happen in these matches, and wishes the teams could have met straight after their massive victories: Liverpool’s 7-0 massacre of Crystal Palace and United’s 6-2 destruction of Leeds.
“That would have meant a fearless, swashbuckling match. But now, we might be in for a boring one. Liverpool do not want to lose this match and United want to keep their pole position. My prediction: United might take a little more initiative and test Liverpool's weakened defence. They will be rewarded with a small win,” he says. Which would be a massive victory, nonetheless.
His message to Liverpool fans:
A Liverpool fan posted this:
I think we'd be fine if Bruno Fernandes keeps flapping his magic ears:
WAYNE GARFIELD WANG
This Manchester United fan normally ignores Liverpool – until they’re below them on the table.
“I’m ecstatic because it has been such a long wait for us United fans. The league table might not look like this at the end of the season, but Ole’s achievement – getting us to the top – is still better than any of the managers that came after Sir Alex Ferguson,” says Wayne.
While being top now is a surprise, he is glad that this is Ole proving himself to his detractors once again.
“I've never stopped believing in Ole and our boys, probably because I loved Ole the Baby-face Assassin a lot back when he was a player, and he did prove all his haters wrong time after time,” explains Wayne, who is starting to believe also that United could actually go on to win the Premier League title for the first time since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement.
“Looking at the table now, I really feel we do have a shot, but there are a few things we really need to improve, though. Our defence is still weak. Now we're mainly depending on Eric Bailly only, so he cannot get injured. Also, our attackers need to up their game, especially Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood. They appear to be losing their passion this season.
“Edinson Cavani and Marcus Rashford are lethal but their finishing needs to be world class,” says Wayne who also wants to believe that his beloved United will acquit themselves well at Anfield.
“While we are arch-rivals, we have to be fair to those fools,” he proclaims somewhat unfairly. “They are an extremely strong team and I want to believe we can beat them away at Anfield and extend our away win record,” he adds. Sure, it will also mean ending Liverpool’s unbeaten run at Anfield that extends from April23, 2017, but there are more important things than ending unbeaten streaks.
“For me, most importantly, it'll be a humongous morale boost for our boys if they beat Liverpool at Anfield,” says Wayne, who hopes that boost will push them towards the title.
His message to Liverpool fans:
“Brace yourselves Reds, we're coming to your house to add the Red Devils emblem!”
Entertainer-turned-chef who is making a name for himself as Manchester United’s most annoying fan, especially to Liverpool supporters.
“It feels great to be on top of Liverpool now,” says Stephen, who would support Manchester City, Chelsea, Leicester, Sheffield United or any team that Liverpool faces. At least it’ll be a relief for a little while that he can finally support his team for a change. It has come as a complete surprise for him, though.
“Honestly, I was disappointed with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at the start of the season because I had no idea what the hell he was trying to do. But I am guessing he was feeling out his players and the results have paid off now that we’re top,” says Stephen, trying to explain what he doesn’t understand.
He feels that United can now take matters into their own hands and win the title that has eluded them for what he feels is too long now.
“Yes, of course United have a shot at winning the title now, if they don’t mess up in defence!” he says. To him the biggest threat to Manchester United winning their first title since Sir Alex Ferguson retired is not Liverpool. He feels the stronger challenge will come from neighbours Manchester City.
“We must also worry about Man City coming from behind with a game in hand,” he cautions. But before that, he has every faith that Manchester United will end up the better team at Anfield on Sunday night.
“We can beat them and end their unbeaten run at home and let them drop to fifth, maybe sixth place!” he says, chuckling gleefully.
His message to Liverpool fans:
“Liverpool fans! You can kiss your league title goodbye!”
This article, “Liverpool, we're coming to Anfield to take the title from you, say Manchester United fans”, originally appeared on Football Siao – Singapore’s craziest EPL website.