Premier League - Early Doors: United silence speaks volumes

Mon, 07 Mar 08:00:00 2011

Manchester United's media blackout following their 3-1 defeat at Liverpool does no one any favours, least of all the club itself.

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"Bad result today no excuses."

"...very deep gash."

These eight words are the sum total of post-match reaction coming out of the Manchester United camp as a result of the club's media blackout following the league leaders' abject 3-1 defeat to Liverpool at Anfield.

The first line came from the Twitter feed of Rio Ferdinand (who obviously didn't get the memo), while the second is a club spokeswoman's description of the state of Nani's left shin following the battering it took from Jamie Carragher's studs.

There was nothing else said via official channels for the club's global fan base, thought to be some 333 million-strong (including 190m in Asia), who contributed to last year's £286.4m revenue.

No Fergie on Sky. No Mike Phelan on the BBC. Not even a word for the club's official television channel. That'll learn MUTV for reporting the very words their club manager said which landed him an FA charge. The nerve.

The years of media kowtowing which United have enjoyed over the past two decades have given the club a sense of entitlement and privilege that even their glittering history does not warrant.

If all this sounds to you like the media navel-gazing and revelling in its own righteous indignation just as much as United, then you are probably right. Clearly, being denied any reaction from half the protagonists involved in one of biggest results of the season makes it harder for people to do their jobs.

There are few worse things in the world of sports reporting than headlines such as 'X will not make bid for Y' or 'Z won't quit', for example, but on this occasion no news is very much big news.

United's silence was reportedly a pre-arranged move, but it has backfired on them. Rather than asserting their power by withholding the victorious words from the champions elect from a world waiting with bated breath, it makes them look extraordinarily bitter in defeat.

Not only that, but should any of the rights-holding organisations decide to complain then the Premier League will have no choice but to act and reprimand the club, exacerbating the situation still further.

Perhaps we should be grateful for the lack of post-match platitudes as it allows us to concentrate on the facts.

Dirk Kuyt - in effect Liverpool's third-choice striker after Andy Carroll finally made his debut on Sunday from the bench - scored his first hat-trick for the club and the first by one of their players against Manchester United since Peter Beardsley's treble back in 1990.

Defeat for United means that Arsenal again know that they will be champions if they win all of their remaining games, despite the Gunners being held to a 0-0 draw by Sunderland on Saturday.

Whoever wins the title this season can now only do so with a maximum of 87 points. If the team which lifts the trophy does so by amassing less than the 83 points United did in 2002-03, it will be the smallest title-winning total for a decade.

United were missing both Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic, but Liverpool did not start with their first-choice defence either. It was still goalless when Sotirios Kyrgiakos had to replace the injured Fabio Aurelio, necessitating an impromptu defensive reshuffle by Kenny Dalglish from which only Martin Skrtel emerged in the same position.

Liverpool won so comfortably not just because of their greater desire - witness Kuyt's three strikes from a combined range of about six yards as the men in white just stood and watched - but they also outplayed United. Luis Suarez ran amok as he was ably supported by Raul Meireles and Maxi Rodriguez, while United's most ball-playing midfield line-up was stunted by Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs's advancing years and another awful performance from Michael Carrick.

United remain top, and they are there for a reason, but the defeat at Anfield exposed their limitations at a time when they should be at their most fearsome. No wonder the club was lost for words.

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QUOTE OF THE DAY: "If it wasn't me this wouldn't be happening. I'm not a paedophile and I'm not a bank robber. I've done nothing wrong. I'm hurt by it, and it hurts my wife and family. I just want to get it out of the way and move on. It has been difficult to concentrate on the job at times, but I've managed to do it." - Spurs manager Harry Redknapp outlines some of the charges not brought against him as he bemoans the tax ones which are.

FOREIGN VIEW: "There was no magic word or shock at half-time. It can happen when 45 minutes go wrong. We hadn't shown up on the pitch, and the players knew they made mistakes. The reaction was automatic and there was no need for magical words." - It's not just Kenny Dalglish who has presided over an amazingly quick turnaround in the flagging fortunes of a big club. The 33 points Internazionale have accumulated in the 13 Serie A matches since Leonardo took over is an Italian record. The Nerazzuri's thumping 5-2 comeback win over Genoa keeps the reigning champions five points behind leaders and local rivals Milan.

COMING UP: Check out highlights of each and every one of the weekend's matches online as well as our pick of the best goals, saves and players from the latest round of Premier League fixtures. Or, if you just haven't got that sort of time to spare on a Monday morning (who are you kidding?), then you can see our round-up of every goal in 90 seconds.

Can the champions take their chance to consolidate fourth place in the table? Find out with our live coverage of Blackpool v Chelsea from 20:00 this evening.

And before that, Paul Parker will be getting stuck into United's defeat at Anfield in his latest blog.

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Early Doors knows little of the world outside the Eurosport office, having been chained to its desk and forced to subsist on a thin gruel of UHT milk and cardboard. It cares little for football itself, preferring to focus on the childish histrionics and self-regarding largesse of those involved in the game. Its primary interests are training-ground bust-ups, Baby Bentleys and deluded chairmen. Like many Premier League players, Early Doors refers to itself only in the third person.


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