Let's reproduce Monday's magic against Liverpool
At 9:02am on the morning after Manchester United's ruthless dismantling act at Chelsea, Michael Carrick fired up his Twitter app.
“To every single one of you behind the goal last night,” he wrote. “Non-stop from start to finish. The noise and energy was incredible. Would have loved to be in there myself. Thank you. Same again Sunday please.”
At the time of writing, that post has been ‘liked’ 73,977 times. And I’m fairly convinced that around 5,945 of those tappers and clickers were Reds scanning Carrick’s words from under drooping eyelids, while nursing hangovers of considerable severity.
Those of us that were in the Shed End on Monday night were knackered and sleep-deprived come Tuesday morning. The last train to Manchester hadn't reached Piccadilly station until around 2am, and I didn’t rest my head on my pillow until around 3am. But I was still buzzing at my desk, several hours later.
The Emirates FA Cup’s kick-off times don’t always make it easy for away supporters – one mate was gutted that he couldn’t get to Chelsea after being at Arsenal in the last round, simply because he couldn’t take any more time off work. But the competition is still brilliant. Away fans are entitled to 15 per cent of the ticket allocation and – when they get it – it makes for a brilliant atmosphere.
Highlights: Chelsea 0 United 2 Video
Highlights: Chelsea 0 United 2
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But most of us headed to the Fulham Road pessimistic. “I’m sick of coming here and seeing us lose,” moaned a friend in the pub, as kick-off approached.
Before Monday, we’d won just three games at Chelsea this century, and the PSG defeat – plus the injuries to Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial – didn’t inspire confidence. In that very well-to-do gastro pub, smart west Londoners draped in blue-and-white scarves ordered venison scotch eggs and white wine, as if to further emphasise that we were a very long way from Stretford.
But inside, United were absolutely brilliant, on and off the pitch. Urged on by those thousands on the south side of the ground, the players were pitiless in attack and dogged in defence; so much so that Chelsea were made to feel like imposters on their own home turf.
I was in the lower section of the Shed End and, throughout, there was a clatter from above, as those in the upper tier reached over to beat a relentless rhythm on the hoardings below them.
The singing never stopped. At one point in the second half, Ashley Young won a throw-in and earned a roar ferocious enough to shake the trees in Hyde Park. The full-back flashed a quick glance and grin towards us. You sensed he, like us, was loving every minute.
@FBAwayDays @theawayfans United taking over Stamford Bridge #mufc pic.twitter.com/LefcFMaobT— @I'mBrianSo'smyWife (@wallymac0309) February 18, 2019
Obviously, there was some fear after the PSG match that the momentum created under Ole might have taken a hit, and with Chelsea and Liverpool next, worries abounded that it could become a more prolonged dip in form.
But that idea has been forcefully and defiantly rebuked. Every supporter, every man, woman and child, left that stadium on cloud nine, with nothing but optimism for Sunday and the cup quarter-final at Wolves. At Euston station, there were smiles splashed across the faces of those munching late-night Burger Kings and grabbing cans for the journey home.
Earlier this week, the FA revealed that match at Molineux will take place at 19:55 GMT on a Saturday night. Again, it won’t be easy for supporters, with the last train to Manchester leaving at 22:49 (problematic if the game goes to extra-time and/or penalties), but it will surely be a great day, and a tremendous atmosphere.
On the other hand, ample time in the afternoon before the football means some supporters are already planning to head to Dudley – the nearby hometown of Duncan Edwards – to pay tribute to the great Busby Babe.
No words 🙌🏼👏🏼🔴 #bestawayfansever #thanks pic.twitter.com/XzsZsbQWvB— Ander Herrera (@AnderHerrera) February 19, 2019
However, Wolves feels as distant as the Ashes, the Tour de France or your summer trip to Crete right now.
As Carrick said, even while basking in the twilight of that win at Chelsea: “Same again Sunday please.”
There’s still nothing like the match between the two greatest clubs in English football history and, with many United fans hoping Tottenham or Manchester City win the title rather than the Anfield men, this weekend’s match carries an extra frisson of nervy apprehension.
One thing is clear: Jurgen Klopp’s men will not be half as excited as us fans are about Sunday. This is surely the 18-times champions’ trickiest remaining domestic fixture, and could be pivotal to their hopes of winning that first title since 1990.
To everyone single one of you behind the goal last night.— Michael Carrick (@carras16) February 19, 2019
Nonstop from start to finish. The noise and energy was incredible.
Would have loved to be in there myself.
Thank you 🙌🏼
Same again Sunday please 😉🔴🔴
For United, there’s less pressure. Solskjaer has already lifted the team to fourth way earlier than anyone expected, and the win at Chelsea means United’s season still contains a solid opportunity for silverware.
More importantly, the buzz – exemplified by the ‘Ole’s at the wheel’ chant, to the Stone Roses’ Waterfall – remains well and truly intact. It’s simply a fabulous time to be a Manchester United supporter.
This weekend is something of a free hit: a win against Liverpool is always brilliant, but it would be extremely sweet here, simply for the seismic way it could impinge on our great rivals.
Old Trafford knows the atmosphere has to be lifted, as Carrick requests. But I’ve no doubt it will be. It always is for matches against Liverpool Football Club.
The views of this article are personal to the author and do not necessarily represent those of Manchester United Football Club.
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