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Football News: Manchester United v Liverpool - A Liverpool Perspective

Manchester United v Liverpool - A Liverpool Perspective
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Manchester United v Liverpool A Liverpool Perspective


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This is possibly the hardest review I have ever written, how can you put that match into words? Well you can put it into words, but it just becomes a gushing rush of praise for Liverpool and a diatribe against United's uselessness, rather than offering any insight into why Liverpool were so good and Man Utd so bad. And that makes it extremely difficult, as I have to keep going back and deleting what I have written as calm, considered words have been lost under the rush of excitement, maybe adrenalin even, as the game replays itself in my mind.

I was not expecting to see another performance as dominating as the win over Watford, certainly not this season, maybe even in my lifetime, as those kind of performances only really come around once in a generation. I guess that is sort of right, as this was not as dominating, it was more dominating. Far more dominating. And it was not a promoted side against a title challenger, but a team with pretensions of challenging for the title themselves against a title challenger. Even more than that, it is a bitter rival in a derby match, the kind of match where usually form goes out of the window and any gap between the two sides is closed by the occasion.

That game was reminiscent of a well-coached professional team who were up for it, facing a non-league semi-pro team in the early rounds of the cup. While Liverpool were well-drilled, the players knew their roles and what they were aiming to achieve, working together as a team, Manchester United were a group of individuals with little idea of what they were meant to be doing. As a kid I remember they would show old black and white films of the Keystone Kops, all running round getting in each other's way and making a mess of everything. That was exactly what United were like yesterday, especially defensively.

The most disturbing thing from a United point of view is how much worse that could have easily been. Not just because Liverpool backed off and never went for the throat in the second half, but also because on another day they could have seen Ronaldo and Fred given red cards, rather than yellows. There is no argument on the Pogba red, he went over the ball with studs, it had to be a red, but there is an argument to be made that both of the other two could have been shown reds.


Manchester United


We have known for a long time that the coaching is a problem at United, with no sign of any players improving under the currect regime, most have instead shown signs of regression. This match just brought home how far they have fallen and how disorganised they are. It has been clear for a while that the attacking play relied heavily upon individual moments of brilliance, rather than a tactical plan to break down opponents, but now it is equally obvious that the defence is relying on individual ability. When you have Maguire and Shaw as probably the senior half of a back four relying on individual ability, you are always going to be in trouble.

Add that to a team that are unsure about whether they should be pressing or dropping off, who should be picking up who and some players not working hard enough and it was a disaster just waiting to happen. All it required was a top team to turn up and play to their best and this was sure to be the result. But the good news is Ole says he is close, that he has come too far to give up (well it is a long flight over from Molde to be fair) and he believes in himself. He might just be the only person left that does believe in him!




Klopp - right up until the final few minutes he was still on the players' backs ensuring they did not suffer from complacency at all. You really cannot pick holes in anything he did in this game, even the surprising team selection worked out perfectly to provide this result.


Alisson - I think he must have been bored as he was coming out for almost any ball that was played into the Liverpool half! It was not really a game for a goalkeeper to be judged on, neither of them had a bad game but neither had enough chances to really make their mark on the game.


Alexander-Arnold - he was able to get forward at will as Rashford made no attempt to track his runs. That left him with acres of space and it was little wonder he was able to make such a positive impact on the game. United's half-time change made no difference and it was too late by the time they tried switching to a back three, as they were down to 10 men. As it was, he was able to overload down his flank and cause havoc.


Konate - honestly I have to say aspects of his performance worried me, his tendency to get caught up field could have been extremely costly. But what particularly looks to be a problem is his positional sense, which was particularly obvious when he faced up Ronaldo ahead of the disallowed goal. He overcompensated, moving over too far to his right, almost standing on top of Alexander-Arnold, and so it was easy for the Portugese forward to just jink away from him. Konate is clearly immensely strong, the way he dealt with Fred's attempt to outmuscle him was comical, and quick, but still has a lot to learn about defending as part of a back four. His defending for that moment against Ronaldo was very much Bundesliga-type defending, similar to the hopeless stuff that allowed Sancho to shine or Bellingham to run through and score a solo effort at the weekend. Contrast the way Salah had to work the ball against City and Watford to score, with players swarming him and giving him no space. Konate needed to be to his own left, far enough over to force Ronaldo onto his slightly weaker left foot and away from goal, rather than allowing an easy route to shoot.


van Dijk - never troubled really, he was able to just stroll around unruffled and play the game almost at his leisure.


Robertson - struggled early on and made far too many loose passes. The effort is still there, the work rate, the closing down, his defending is good but on the ball he just is nowhere near his best this season.


Milner - he was playing very well, a very controlled performance and almost scored the second, before slipping and picking up an injury.


Keita - finally we saw some signs of the Keita we thought Liverpool had signed. After a diabolical performance against Atleti it seems a foot had connected with his backside and he has finally stepped up. Sadly a painful injury caused by Pogba's silly over the ball challenge forced him off. Hopefully the penny has dropped in terms of performances and he will not be out for long, if at all.


Henderson - he was able to play the game at a canter and still boss the midfield. His outside of the foot pass for the final goal was sublime as well. A comfortable day for the captain.


Jota - a surprising choice but it worked out well and he had a good game and scored. Jota looks so much more at home on the left flank than he does through the centre.


Salah - what can you say about this man? A special player in top form who come across a team whose defence was a shambles. There was only ever one ending to that, and sure enough he came away with the match ball after notching a hat-trick.


Firmino - he was all over the pitch, sometimes chasing the ball back (on those rare occasions Liverpool lost it), sometimes to try and link up play. Started the game with a few loose passes but came into the game as it went on and always links up well with Salah in particular. He also linked up with Keita, with what seemed a decent understanding between the two.


Jones - replaced the injured Milner in the 23rd minute, with Liverpool already 2-0 to the good. The game was already over, effectively, by the time he came on and it took him a little while to get up to speed. By the time he was up to speed it was over and he was able to just stroll around under no pressure with no real need to make things happen.


Oxlade-Chamberlain - came on after another injury, this time to Keita, in the 63rd minute. By the time he came on it was just a case of playing out time and making sure not to do anything silly to give away a goal and he played his part in that.


Mane - was brought on in the 76th minute to take Firmino's place. He tried to make things happen and attack, but the game was dead by the time he came on and it was difficult to really get anything going.

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Written by Tris Burke October 26 2021 05:17:07


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