Manchester United 2-1 Liverpool
1-0 van Persie (19), 2-0 Vidic (54), 2-1 Sturridge (57)
A curates egg of a game. A terribly tentative first hour or so to the point that, when we finally started to make inroads, we were very lucky to be still in the game. Why didn’t we do it earlier? I think you’ll need to ask Brendon Rogers that.
At the end of the game BR said this
“We are 24 points behind Manchester United but we are not 24 points behind in quality. The difference is down to the squad. Once we close the gap in the squad I have great hope we will be able to challenge. Today’s an example of that.”
I can only assume that BR was locked in the changing room for the fist hour otherwise surely he would have conceded that, had The Mancs finishing not been on the metal, the game would have over by half time. By the way twenty four points at this stage of the season IS a lot. Twenty Four points does not lie and when you are twenty four points behind after twenty odd games I think it fair to cite “quality” as one of the reasons for that gap …. I agree with BR the difference might be down to the squad however, it is also down to how the respective managers, rather than desperately dredge up any kind of mitigating circumstances they can find, work with it and try and utilise it’s strengths to extract the maximum opportunity.. over to you Brendon.
As it was for a fruitless hour our one dimensional, oh so predictable, passing style was simply steamrollered by the hosts. You can attempt to be like Barcelona or Spain or, more likely, Swansea but a side with the Mancs experience should have an answer to it, in short we need to offer more. In the first hour the Mancs had an answer, an explanation and an addendum to every thing. That said when we were more pragmatic and put away “principled” things, and began to think outside the blinkered policy that we are seemingly intent on slavishly following things happened We went at the Mancs rather than trying to almost apologetically sneak our way round them and, through injecting some much need variety in the form of Daniel Sturridge, we made a better fist of things to the extent that The Mancs were grimly hanging on at the end, an encouraging sign?
As expected and speculated BR initially kept Sturridge on the bench along with Borini back from injury. Sterling and Downing were on the flanks with Gerrard, Lucas and Allen shoring up behind. It was a cautious first twenty minutes or so with both sides sussing each other out. We looked confident settling in well enjoying possession without doing anything too stunning with it however all it takes is a moments lack of concentration for all that to be undone. Evra received the ball on the left crossed to van Persie who was simply too quick for Agger and, on the edge of the six yard box, swept the ball into Reina’s right hand corner.
Agger redeemed himself with s terrific block after a floundering Allen had lost the ball allowing Welbeck to run onto goal. Just before the break Cleverly arrowed a shot just past Reina’s right hand post then there was almighty scramble in the six yard area involving Rafael, van Persie and Kagawa which the Mancs somehow failed to make tell. We were less direct despite having plenty of the ball but not getting to Suarez enough? As expected this was more of a test than recent games we had no where near as much space as we did against say QPR. Passes were too easily cut out and players closed down quicker. Potentially good moves were curtailed because they easily anticipated and snuffled out quicker by the opposition or because the final pass was lacking. Nerves perhaps played a part for many this their first game against the Mancs at Old Trafford? Altogether it was far too easy and predictable for The Mancs we were far too tentative, plenty of possession but no punch or variety. A poor half exposing the faults of slavishly adhering to one philosophy with, seemingly, no licence to change or switch if things don’t look like going right. We were lucky to be only 1-0 down?
The response was to bring Sturridge on for Lucas which would no doubt give The Mancs defence something to think about although I can’t believe Fergie hadn’t prepared them for it? Of course the absence of Lucas might give The Mancs more chances upfront? Sure enough Skrtel bought down Welbeck. The resulting free kick was whipped over to our far post and Evra, untracked by Glen Johnson, saw his header into the net via Vidic. Yet another Glen Johnson error, far more than his contempories make yet manager after manager seems to have a blind spot to this mans “defensive” talents. Why?
So damage limitation time then? Not so Gerrard picked up from Sterling shuffled to Ferdinand’s right to make space and fired at De Gea who could only parry it into Sturridge’s path who made no mistake. Reina’s save from Kagawa notwithstanding we were looking better. Sturridge, picking up a long raking ball from Suarez and fired just wide, Borini (we now had three strikers on the pitch) also fired wide and Sturridge again, after Suarez had wriggled into the area loafed a decent chance into the stands. In injury time Sturridge then repeated Johnson’s earlier chance by firing into side netting.
It was an encouraging sign and makes you wonder, with little at stake for us why we didn’t adopt this from the off over to you again Brendon! At the death van Persie nearly made it 3-1 on balance, given our second half performance, it would have been a result that didn’t reflect the game.
Manchester United: De Gea, Rafael, Evra Booked, Ferdinand, Vidic (Smalling – 79′ ), Carrick, Young (Valencia – 46′ ), Cleverley, Kagawa (Jones – 77′ ), Welbeck, Van Persie, Substitutes: Amos, Jones, Smalling, Valencia, Anderson, Giggs, Hernandez
Liverpool: Reina, Johnson Booked, Agger Booked, Skrtel Booked, Wisdom, Gerrard, Downing, Lucas Booked (Sturridge – 46′ ), Allen (Henderson – 80′ ), Sterling (Borini – 62′ ), Suarez Substitutes: Jones, Carragher, Robinson, Henderson, Shelvey, Sturridge, Borini