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Football News: Manchester United v Liverpool - A Quick Liverpool Perspective

Manchester United v Liverpool - A Quick Liverpool Perspective

Manchester United v Liverpool


Deja vu. That is the prevailing feeling after watching that match so soon after losing an FA Cup tie at Old Trafford in almost exactly the same circumstances. Completely dominating the game, creating numerous chances that are wasted, only to end up failing to win the game after letting Man Utd back in to the game in the second half. It also must be pointed out that mistakes at the back actually cost the game, but if Liverpool had taken their chances in the first half, the game would have been well out of sight by half-time and the mistakes would not have mattered. However, Liverpool did not put their chances away, so you have to look closely at those errors as match-defining moments. For me though, the biggest error was made by Jurgen Klopp, by starting the game with Quansah over Konate. Quansah is a good, young player, but Konate is simply a better player and defender at this moment in time and for a game like this you go with your best players.

There have been so many times that an inability to finish their chances have been a problem for Klopp's Liverpool. Whether the front line was Mane, Salah and Firmino or the current three of Diaz, Nunez and Salah, missing chances has always been a problem. There are so many varying reasons for each failure to score, but the truth is that this has gone on so long and through so many players that the issue is clearly something more than an individual player. Whoever replaces Klopp in the summer has to figure out how to get a more clinical edge in the team, it is hindering the club badly, it has now cost the team a place in the FA Cup semi-finals and dropped it off the top of the table in games against a team that are markedly inferior right now. Game after game it has seen the matches much closer than they should have been as well, leaving Liverpool a long way off Arsenal in terms of goal difference as well.


Man Utd are a bit of a mess at the moment, but they still have individual talent at their disposal. That talent can get them results sometimes, especially if they are up against a team that decides to take up almost none of the ridiculous number of chances they give up every game. They really need to figure out how to stop giving up those chances though. They have brought in a goalkeeper to play a high line but have not got the centre-backs to do so. Ten Hag is clearly intending to play a high defensive line and has set up the team to play that way, but the centre-backs are just too scared of pace to hold a line and allow space in behind them. So they drop off, but the midfield and the forwards are not dropping with them, leaving a huge hole between midfield and defence. Until they sort out that issue, they are not going to be able to move the club forward and become a consistent team that can regularly challenge at the top of the league.

The big question left is whether or not Ten Hag is the man to fix their problems. That is still uncertain, and it is difficult to judge him considering the mess above him that he has had to deal with. Certainly the recruitment needed to be taken out of his hands and that is now done, which should make a significant difference, especially as the negotiations will not be handled by the incompetents that were dealing with them before. Will he get the time? We will just have to wait and see.


One thing on the game overall, it did lack a lot of the blood and thunder that you expect from a match between rivals. I know neither team really plays that way, but there was little real fire in the performance from either team. There was only one real moment of controversy, the Casemiro foul right at the end, which really should have been a red card. Hard to understand how that was not given, but I am not sure United would have suffered if he was out banned with his tendency to just pass the ball straight to an opponent anyway! I have always considered Casemiro to be an extremely overrated player, who lacks mobility and fitness, but I never realised just how bad his passing is until he moved to the Premier League. He is fine if it is a simple 5 yard pass, of the kind that was all he was required to make while in the Real Madrid team, but anything else and it almost always goes astray. It is little wonder Man Utd struggle to control games with him in the engine room.


Quick notes on the players:


Kelleher - I have seen people apportion blame to him on the first goal, but I disagree, he was where he should have been in order to receive a pass. The first one was not his fault. The second he could do nothing about either. Overall he had a decent game, though I still feel he lacks the required vision and range of passing to really make the Liverpool system work. The team miss that ability to launch a quick counter.

Bradley - struggled to start with, picking up an early booking, but grew into the game and became a very potent attacking force during the first half.

Quansah - this game showed why, in the past at Liverpool, most young players were usually dropped back down to the reserves after a run of games. He has been playing well and getting lots of plaudits but there has always been a bit of arrogance about his game which needs to be removed until he has earnt the right to it. More importantly, when he makes a mistake, he needs to learn from it the first time he makes it rather than continually making the same error. His giveaway of the ball by a slack sideways pass early in the second half was not the first time he had done it. In fact it was his third or fourth time he had played it blind across the backline, but he had got away with it in the first half. For me he should have been taken off at half time because of them, and that is not hindsight as I was having a rather heated conversation with the screen after the second time he made the same mistake. You don't want to stop young players from making mistakes, it is how they learn, but they have to actually learn. They should not need to be responsible for giving away a goal for them to learn. Especially an intelligent lad like Quansah. Taking him off at half-time would have given him the wake up call without needing to make another mistake and cost his team the win to do so. But that was not done, so now Klopp has to find a way to deal with the aftermath and that means he has to give Quansah his backing and hope the lad will not let it affect him. Quansah seems capable of shrugging it off and getting on with it, but he has to start learning from his mistakes the first time he makes them.

van Dijk - the whole defence and midfield were at fault on United's second goal, including van Dijk, but other than that he was not really troubled at all.

Robertson - marauded down the left in usual fashion but for some reason his delivery was completely off. His corners were not at his usual high level either.

Szoboszlai - worked hard, got up and down well but the final pass or shot just failed to come off for him. In a game of such small margins, those little moments made all the difference. Unfortunately the one really good chance that came to Szoboszlai got caught under his feet. He had to dig it out, so the shot lacked power and was at a nice saveable height and close to the keeper. If that ball had just been in front of him to hit properly, things might have been totally different.

Endo - another solid game, but it was probably not the game for him as more creativity would have been useful at the base of midfield.

Mac Allister - once again the best player on the pitch, though maybe not a performance of the same level as his previous game. He is running games now and producing some masterful performances. He is still able to help protect the defence but the addition of Endo has allowed him to shine further forward.

Diaz - a good goal, but other than that he was not at his best and did not attack his full-back in the way he has been in most games recently. At his best he ties a full-back up in knots, twisting and turning them inside out, but he never really tried to do that. As usual his finishing was very hit and miss.

Nunez - another not at his best. Wasted a few chances to score or play someone in. It was one of those off days for him.

Salah - his finishing was absolutely abysmal, he looked sluggish (which maybe due to returning from injury and fasting for ramadan) but his passing was good. It makes me wonder if he would not be better playing deeper, off a forward like Nunez to play through balls to him. He certainly seems to have become a better creator than goalscorer at the moment, though he did score the penalty that gave Liverpool a draw.

Gomez - replaced Bradley in the 66th minute. He was not able to provide the same attacking intent and never really got into the game.

Jones - came on for Szoboszlai in the 66th minute. It felt like he brought a bit more control back into the game and helped settle Liverpool down.

Elliott - took Endo's place in the 69th minute. Buzzed around like an angry bee, getting on the ball as much as possible and trying to create something. It was while he was looking to produce something that he was fouled for the penalty, though it was on the soft side.

Gakpo - also came on in the 69th minute but to replace Nunez. He tried but it never happened for him. He struggled to really imapct the game.

Written by Tris Burke April 10 2024 03:08:01


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