So, should we look at Sunday’s game with a degree of optimism?
There were some good things to take from the game. We will undoubtedly have more options up front with Daniel Sturridge, and just to take things little further, Fabio Borini also returned. No Jonjo in a “false nine” now? However, overall the feeling was one of frustration, a lost opportunity.
BR only need to look at the way Newcastle gave the Mancs a bloody nose a few weeks ago to see that there they were vulnerable to teams that go for them? Add to this the absence of Johnny Evans means that we had the ageing central defensive partnership of Vidic and Ferdinand to deal with. I can understand BR keeping Sturridge on the bench but perhaps once the news of the Mancs centre line up was known, he might have changed his mind?
As it was we were far too tentative. Again I could understand it if both teams were fighting out for the title however we aren’t so want did we have to lose? Like their manager it’s almost as if the Mancs think respect is a given, however, as the second half showed, if you have a go at them they struggle?
As soon as Sturridge was introduced on Sunday we saw this. We were visibly more potent pressing higher up the pitch going forward more and making The Mancs defence work when after, the first sixty minutes or so, they could be forgiven for thinking they’d be in for a easy afternoon? Of course it is early days and we should we weary of reading too much into, let’s face it, a very small passage of play. The real test will come over the next few months and how the striker beds down. I don’t think you can put all of this down to Sturridge either, as a team we were more positive and less tentative.
I guess the crucial thing is for Suarez and Sturridge to get to know each other and each others roles. On Sunday we didn’t get much of an inkling of how the two might work together. BR mentioned Sturridge in a more advanced role and Suarez slightly behind however both upfront, together it seemed? One wonders if this will blunt the role of Steven Gerrard. Will he move back into a defensive midfield position? I hope not the prospect of Sturridge with Suarez and Gerrard in tandem is, I’m sure something most fans would to like to see. We need Gerrard in an attacking role as the rest of midfield has little or no teeth. Lucas and Allen get nose bleeds whenever they get near the goal (I know it’s not necessarily their role) Henderson and Downing seem unable to get near it and Sterling is still learning.
I guess this could happen if we have someone like Lucas or Allen anchoring behind? It may of course mean reining in the tendency of our full backs to go forward which I know is something BR likes to see? Clearly there is more than one option and who is to say BR will rigidly stick to one particular formula?
Back to the transfer window and it goodbye to Nuri Sahin who goes back to Borussia Dortmund. Sanin only made twelve appearances none of which made too much of an impression. Knowing our luck he’ll probably score in this year’s Champions League final for Dortmund!
Finally news that we had invited Vegard Forren for a week’s trial appears to have been trumped by the fact that he now appears to be going to Southampton. Perhaps he felt that a tad miffed that, as a Norwegian International with nearly 150 appearances for his club, we wanted to give him a trial as if he were some young schoolboy! If he was I wouldn’t blame him!