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Nov 2011
By the skin of their teeth

General Articles

Juanma Morán

Cristiano Ronaldo, Carlos Tevez and Wayne Rooney. With nobody at the controls, how could we stay at the top. Let’s have a look because it’s easier said than done. These players all played together in the Manchester United attack for a while. I wondered then and I am still wondering. Can you compete against such a talented and attacking squad? Obviously you can’t. However, in the 2008-9 season, Liverpool FC gave us the happy notion that it could be done. And I must say they didn’t have very convincing reasons to believe they could do it. Granted Fernando Torres was the striker in this Red’s attempt, but this was hardly a strong argument when measured against the overwhelming brutal effort required to overhaul those players I mentioned at the start. So what is even more remarkable for the powers that be is the way that Liverpool team achieved what they did in that memorable season.

It started like something anecdotal, testimonial, if you ask me. In fact, it was the afternoon that we beat Chelsea on their home patch, Stamford Bridge, to pull away at the top even though it was only by a small margin. The truth is it was an illusion, and it was only recognised later, as no-one saw it at the time, with all eyes on the final day of the season trying to win the league against an Atlantic size gulf between the teams. But the weeks were passing and the situation remained more or less unchanged. So much so that we started to believe in the unbelievable. Then Spring arrived. And with it we lost the top spot. Logically, everything was in favour of Sir Alex Ferguson’s boys, if the truth be known. So the visit to Old Trafford only few days later was especially important. There was hope, and above all desire, to show that occasionally, and only occasionally, hard work can triumph over big budgets. After a poor start in which we conceded a goal, Benitez’s men regrouped and finished up wiping the floor with the home team by winning 1-4.

In the end, we didn’t win the league. In fact, they won it with a game to go. That doesn’t matter too much. It was the year when we finished second, when we lost only twice in 9 months, when we got a record number of points beating the record set only a couple of years earlier. And it was the season in which an unequal fight almost finished with an unexpected outcome. Or what amounts to the same thing. The year that Rafa once again did what he knows best: taking a team from scratch to make it a strong rival to the supremacy of a club that has in its ranks the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Carlos Tevez and Wayne Rooney. As we said at the start, it’s easier said than done.