London: Alex Ferguson admitted Liverpool had “dominated” Manchester United and told his team they could not “take any credit” for their improvement after Jonjo Shelvey had been sent off in the 39th minute.
Though grateful for the hard-earned three points and delighted with United’s first victory at Anfield for almost five years, Ferguson was anything but complimentary about their performance. “It was a great result for us but we didn’t play well,” the United manager said. “Liverpool dominated us. In the second half we had better possession but it was against 10 men so we can’t take credit for that.
“But a win is a win. We have come here the last few years and it has been difficult so we have to be pleased with the result. It was a great start by Liverpool in the second half. They were down to 10 men and they had something to hold on to.
“The important thing was with bringing Paul Scholes on we know we are going to get more control of the ball and that is what we did. But we didn’t really create many chances. Rafa (Da Silva) has got us out of the mire. It was a fantastic goal he scored and from then on I felt we could win it.
“We haven’t played well here for the past four years and we can do better. We used to do really well here. It goes in cycles. We had a run and then they had a period. Maybe it is our turn.” Ferguson was fulsome in his praise of Liverpool for the tributes that were paid to the 96 victims of the Hillsborough disaster prior to kick-off, which included the release of 96 red balloons and Sir Bobby Charlton presenting Ian Rush with a bouquet of flowers on behalf of United. “I think Liverpool Football Club have done a fantastic job today,” he said. “The fans were terrific and our fans paid back that respect. I don’t think anybody could have any complaints about that part. They created a magnificent atmosphere.
“It was a beautiful touch, Sir Bobby giving Ian Rush the bouquet. It demonstrates that two great clubs can unite and do these things and then get on with the game of football with both teams trying to win. Liverpool set the right tone. There was total respect, which I am pleased about. Hopefully, that is a line in the sand.”
Meanwhile, Roberto Mancini’s frustration at watching Manchester City throw away a lead for the third time in six games this season was compounded by another run-in with Mario Balotelli at the Etihad Stadium Sunday.
The City manager — who has yet to see the champions keep a clean sheet this term — appeared to shove Balotelli after apparently reacting to something the temperamental Italy striker said as he walked off the pitch at the final whistle.
Five days after being controversially omitted from City’s 18-man squad for the 3-2 Champions League defeat by Real Madrid at the Bernabeu, Balotelli was only a substitute against Arsenal.
Although initially coy about the incident, Mancini suggested Balotelli might have been upset about not starting the game and only being introduced as a substitute in the 85th minute. “Probably, probably, I don’t know,” Mancini said. “Tomorrow (Tuesday) I will ask him. It’s possible. I don’t remember what happened after the game. I don’t remember if he asked me something but it’s not important this. Mario may think it was important.”