3 Contrasting Opinions About Liverpool’s Performance Against United: You Decide

Editor’s note: Liverpool one, Manchester United one. A single point for both sides, but which club should feel pleased with their performance, and which manager made the correct decisions, or not? Here are three dissenting opinions from EPL Talk’s Chris Binnie, Frank Sale and, me, The Gaffer. Let us know who you agree with in the comments section below, and share your own insights and opinions regarding this, one of the biggest matches of the season.

Liverpool Heading In The Right Direction After 1-1 Draw With United — By Chris Binnie

For English football fans worldwide, the second half spectacle didn’t disappoint when Manchester United met Liverpool at Anfield today. Relative to the second half one could almost describe the first half of the meeting of old enemies as insipid.

It was not for a lack of trying from both parties however and what with Wayne Rooney and other front men being left on the bench and Phil Jones’ previously untried ephemeral role to effectively block all midfield work from Steven Gerrard, the tactics from both teams meant any highly entertaining play-making was cancelled out, as was anything more than a couple of half chances for scoring.

In hand with the return of their talisman to fitness, Gerrard, one thing that Liverpool Football Club can be proud of is that, in terms of their title-chasing hopes, they’re definitely making noticeable progress in the right direction.

The highly visible abundance of enthusiasm on display from Liverpool, which admittedly was during one of their biggest matches of the season against Manchester United, was without question extremely encouraging. The adept and skilful crossed balls flying at speed in from the wing by Stewart Downing and the long, pacey runs by José Enrique for significant sections of the pitch were distinctly lacking last season.

The omission of Bellamy and Carroll in the game had its own consequences such as the aerial threat Carroll provides in the box from set pieces and crosses and the sparky urgency that Bellamy poses to any alarmed defence when attacking.

Dalglish said after the match that he thought it was “fitting” that Gerrard got the goal for Liverpool, from the free kick and he thought that, during his first full ninety minutes on the pitch for seven months, Gerrard had performed to his usual expected standard of excellence. Noticeably exhibiting flair with a couple of trick shots, side-flicking the ball to colleagues, through the course of the match Gerrard showed that his own confidence in his ability had not abated at all during his injury respite.

There is little doubt that Liverpool Football Club stood up and wore their Sunday best, for what some described as the “most important club match in the world”, but if today’s performance is anything to go by then the club has come along by leaps and bounds. Consider for a moment that less than a year ago fans were realistically facing a relegation threat, whilst under the management of the now departed Roy Hodgson (only part of the blame for which should be apportioned to Hodgson).

The passionate performance from players that knew the club’s heritage and knew what it meant to the fans to do well against United was unfortunately only partially rewarded with a point for a draw. Harnessing Gerrard’s powerful contribution in midfield for the rest of the season in order to hook him up with Luis Suárez and Carroll will be an interesting watch and hopefully the goals will really flow as result. What should Liverpool and Dalglish take from the solidarity and stamina they showed as a team today? As a squad they’re making fantastic headway and, although there’s still a long way to go, the newly melded and formidable team whether it’s this season or next should soon be a real force to be reckoned with.


Liverpool Should Have Taken Advantage of an Unusual Manchester United — By Frank Sale

A draw was a disappointing result for Liverpool in the 12:45PM kick off on Saturday. After a very flat first half and a slightly better second half, the game certainly did not live up to expectations after Ferguson billed it the greatest game in English football. However it didn’t pass without incident and Liverpool will feel they should have walked away with all three points. Ferguson got everything wrong. His tactics and the formation, let alone the starting eleven, which was barely recognisable. Manchester United were average, and should be very happy with their point. Rooney was demoted to the bench which summed up his miserable week after his England sending-off and subsequent three-match ban for Euro 2012, the talking point before the match. Sir Alex gambled with his starting line-up, also leaving Nani and Hernandez on the bench, and it didn’t pay off.

What did pay off was Dalglish’s decision to start Steven Gerrard. The 31-year-old was a presence all over the pitch, supporting Charlie Adam and Lucas Leiva when United were in possession while still finding the energy to drive forward and showcase his crossing ability. He inspired Liverpool and injected a life and buzz into the team. Gerrard capped a fine performance with a goal, squeezing his free-kick between Ryan Giggs and Danny Welbeck in the United wall to hand the home side the lead after sixty-eight minutes. Jose Enrique and Stewart Downing also showed how much width they provide Liverpool with. The pair combined on numerous occasions to surge past Smalling and deliver dangerous balls into the box, but it was clear that Liverpool lacked a presence in the air. Martin Kelly excelled at right back and looked comfortable keeping tabs on the in-form Young and generally added a different dimension to the Liverpool team.

United never impressed in the first hour. Their midfield possessed no creativity, and this took its toll, because the delivery to Welbeck was simply not good enough. The reigning champions failed to trouble Reina, as Liverpool dominated the pitch. However, once Gerrard had given his side the lead, Sir Alex introduced Nani and Rooney. Manchester United then began to pick up their game, and when Hernandez came on, he continued to enhance his reputation as a clinical goal scorer in and around the 18-yard box. He made an immediate impact and from a corner managed to spin away from Skrtel and head the ball past Reina to equalise and earn a point for United in the last ten minutes.

Although Rooney may have inspired his fellow team-mates, he himself was very quiet and took up an unusual position, playing in the centre of midfield, and only really game into the game when he made an excellent defensive header denying Suarez a clear opportunity to score.Fergusonsaid that he was left on the bench because he was ‘devastated’ after his Euro 2012 ban, and this really did show.After Hernandez had silenced the Anfield crowd, there was still time for Dirk Kuyt and Jordan Henderson to force De Gea to make some decent stops. The United keeper has had his fair share of critics this season, but he is just settling and came through today’s game with class. This was a game that Liverpool could and should have won. Dalglish perhaps made a mistake in not bringing on Bellamy and Carroll on, as both players have the potential to add positives in the attack. Manchester United fall behind their new arch rivals,Manchester City for the first time this season, while Liverpool remain in fifth place and continue to fight for a place in the top four.


Liverpool Miss Golden Opportunity To Punish Manchester United — By The Gaffer

Sir Alex Ferguson has done it again. He set out with a precise plan against Liverpool. He risked it by resting some of his key stars, and as I predicted, gambled on Manchester United stifling Liverpool until the 65th minute to come back and draw. Even after Steven Gerrard scored the free kick, I was confident that United would come back and draw this game. The writing was on the wall.

That said, I was extremely disappointed with Liverpool’s performance. You had a full-strength Liverpool side starting against what was essentially a B-side Manchester United with star players such as Nani, Wayne Rooney, Javier Hernandez and Antonio Valencia on the bench, while Nemanja Vidic didn’t even dress and you had, gulp, Jonny Evans, an aging Ryan Giggs and an out-of-position Phil Jones in the side. If Liverpool is to mount a serious title challenge this season, this was the sort of game where Liverpool should have punished Manchester United. Even Liverpool legend Kevin Keegan said before the game that Sir Alex Ferguson’s starting eleven was an insult to Liverpool FC.

With Liverpool, there was too much bluster and not enough precision. Dalglish’s side controlled possession in key moments of the match but they were unable to create as many chances as I would suspect. And the chances that they didn’t create were wasted by Luis Suarez and Dirk Kuyt. Put Javier Hernandez into that one-on-one situation that Suarez had against De Gea and Chicharito would have scored nine times out of ten. Kuyt, meanwhile, had a late chance in the game but shot straight at De Gea.

Manchester United set out to get a draw in this match and they got exactly what they wanted. Sir Alex Ferguson made a calculated move in starting with the line-up he had today. He walked away from Anfield with one point and with players who will be well-rested for next week’s Champions League game. Sir Alex Ferguson found the perfect balance in getting what he wanted and preparing his team for their next game. For Liverpool, they have to start all over again next weekend with a home match against Norwich City. And judging by the performance the Canaries put on today and comparing that with how Liverpool lacked imagination, the Reds are going to have a tough time against the recently promoted side.

22 thoughts on “3 Contrasting Opinions About Liverpool’s Performance Against United: You Decide”

  1. Basically, Liverpool’s divers were dominating the game, but unable to dive close enough to the keeper to get a goal. Finally, they managed to dive their way to a free kick, which would have been blocked except a former diver – who is too old to dive and still pick himself off the pitch – decided it was more important to protect his chances with Imogen Thomas than United’s chance of winning.

    Thankfully for United fans, Sir Alex brought on his best divers with hopes of equaling the contest. Unfortunately for them, they were unable to generate some much needed dives before they accidentally scored a legitimate goal, thereby ruining the whole plan when an actual game broke out for the last twenty minutes.

  2. I think the dominant factor in this game was the international break. It led to the Rooney kerfuffle that kept him on the bench. Fatigue from play or travel or both kept players like Nani, Suarez, Lucas etc. from playing at their peak. This, plus the upcoming schedule, led SAF to park the bus in the first half and hope he could get through an hour or so without his best attacking team. Turns out that he could.

    Looked to me like Kenny set out to play against the pacey brilliance of a full strength ManU but didn’t adapt to the side Ferguson put out there. LFC needn’t have clogged the midfield against the under-strength side and the presence of Carroll in the first half would have been useful, as the Reds were forced to play longer balls into the box by the lack of space.

    I took less away from this game as an indicator of Liverpool’s progress than I did as another indictment of international breaks and the congested schedule. Supporters of both sides deserved a game where both sides were closer to full strength.

  3. Unquestionably, Liverpool had the better chances, and deserved to nick it – only DeGea’s positioning and save-making kept the game level. This is typical of this fixture at Anfield. ‘Pool usually have the better of things. There may be a gap between the two sides overall, but judging from today’s result, it’s a small one – ManUtd are more ruthless in front of goal. The ability to finish well-worked chances will be the deciding factor in Liverpool’s hunt for a top three spot.

  4. Oh my God! Rooney didn’t start because “he was upset and shocked over three game ban” of his red card. You have to be kidding me. Rooney needs to grow a pair and Ferguson needs to stop babying him. You know the biggest difference between American athletes and English ones? The Americans rise in the face of adversityu while the English succumb to it.

  5. It doesn’t make sense that Rooney did not start….If his “head wasn’t right” to start as the announcers put it how could his mindset change over the course of 65 minutes? If your going to play Rooney at all in this match then you start him. If you don’t plan on starting him because he isn’t mentally ready, then he should not play at all.

  6. United has a Champions League match on Tuesday that they have to win then it’s back to England for the Manchester Derby.

    A fit Vidic, a rested Nani, a rested Anderson and a right-minded Rooney for the week to come in Europe and the Manchester Derby.

    One match in October doesn’t decide the season, but mismanaging and not protecting your players can always have ripple effects for the remainder of the season. To that, a point at Anfield compared to zero in the last three is a positive.

    But Liverpool is getting better and will always be a tough, tough challenge at Anfield/North West Derby.

  7. Liverpool couldn’t beat a weaker United side shows you how far they are from the top sides in the EPL. A very disappointing performance by Liverpool who have shown a lack of clinical finishing in many a game this season. Even when United are not at full strength they find a way to get something from the game. If you cannot win at home against a top side who rested their stars till the end then you have no claims to being a top 4 club. Liverpool are way behind United, City, Chelsea and Spurs and are only as good as Arsenal, Stoke and Newcastle right now. That’s why they will finish 6th at best.

    Imagine Liverpool playing away to United without Gerard, Suarez and Kuyt. They would have been hammered. Shows you the gulf between the two clubs. Liverpool may have spent over a hundred million since FSG took over but they bought poorly and are still a long way from being competetive at the top.

  8. What’s with all these pundits and fans hopping on the Gerrard train? Gerrard was largely anonymous for the entire game (aside from the free kick, which would have hit the wall had Giggs not mysteriously disappeared) and looked his age. He’s a talisman, but their truly best player was Suarez, who’s an absolute handful for even the best defenders in the world. No mention of the largely excellent performance by Ferdinand, the fairly decent first game back for Smalling, or Evans’ surprisingly good game (considering how many United fans rate him so low). I thought it was an extremely conservative and slightly fearful lineup from Fergie, but Welbeck did well, running his heart out and putting in some good touches. Kelly was brilliant in keeping Young quiet, but Liverpool looked outclassed once the subs came on.

    Furthermore, what’s with the “then came the subs?” Rooney and Nani were on the touchline waiting to come on before Gerrard scored, so it wasn’t a reaction, it just seemed that way. All in all, a decent result for United, who have CL to worry about and the real biggest game of the season next weekend against City at OT.

  9. The most important thing we learned from today’s match was that Liverpool are still nowhere near the level of United, City, Chelsea or Spurs. That’s why they will finish out of the top 4 again this season.

    Daglish has bought mediocrity with the money he’s spent which is why they are still miles behind United. Ferguson knew he could afford to start without his big guns and still come away with something because he doesn’t rate Liverpool highly at all. Sorry Liverpool fans but you are going to have to do better just to get into the Europa League as you have no chance for a Champions League spot.

  10. I keep hoping there will be some sort of decent discussion here, and there so rarely is. 1st, how you do against the other top sides doesn’t determine the league standings, Utd have shown that many times when they have been beaten by Chelsea or Liverpool or Arsenal or whoever is mounting a challenge that year and gone on to win the league. The league is won, and the other top 4 positions are gained, by the big teams ability to turn over the lesser teams. Utd tend to trip up a couple of times a season at most. That is why the win the league so often, they concentrate on the trips to Wigan or West Brom or whoever far better than any other team.
    Also Adam did not dive, the 1st few camera angles don’t show, but one of them clearly shows Ferdinand caught him. He stuck out a foot and he made contact with a man who was running with the ball, that is a foul every single time, no matter what team you support.
    Thirdly Fergie’s line up was nothing to do with him belittling Liverpool, they have a big squad and three games in a week. A point at Liverpool is fine. A loss at Liverpool would have not been a major issue (it didn’t dampen anything last year did it?). Home against City is different, because it is home game. So he is hedging his bets by making it the most important of the three, and the team will reflect that. If they had three games with CIty away at the start and Liverpool at Home at the end he would have again worked towards his strongest team for the home game.
    Fergie knows better than anyone how to manage a campaign to win the league. Probably the second most knowledgable is Kenny. Believe it or not, both know what they are doing, which is why despite the protest, Utd will either win the league or be a hair behind City and Liverpool will get fourth. Utd are keeping pace with City, which is all Fergie needs to do, as he knows his players know how to handle the pressure of a title run in and is banking on that being a huge factor. Kenny has bedded in a bunch of new players through a tough set of opening fixtures and has done it with a points per game that is already on the verge of what is the usual 4th place total. If Liverpool win against Norwich they are back on pace for pretty much guaranteed 4th place.
    Titles and Champ League places are not gained in one off gladitorial battles, they are won by grinding out results and keeping your points per game ratio at the right level or having great runs of form.

  11. it was a horrendous game. there was no football played until the last 10 minutes to be honest. even ferguson said that after gerrard’s freekick, the game was “much better” which shows that even he thought it was a s*** match. living in CT, i woke up at 6.30 in the morning expecting a football fiesta. the first half was just awful with the two teams just giving away possession and the ball flying all over the bloody place. i was hoping the 2nd half would get better but unfortunately it didn’t. for someone who was probably watching a premier league match for the first time, hoping that watching two of England’s most successful clubs would create a spectacle, this was a huge letdown. perhaps that fan will get into spanish football and watch Real Madrid and Barcelona play good, technical football with the best quality players in the world. Just because it’s the biggest rivalry doesn’t mean you abandon your football and just get overly aggressive and physical with your opponents. i’ve seen many united-liverpool games and although they are entertaining, they pale in comparison to El Classico games as far pure, technical, and eye-pleasing football is concerned.

    1. I suppose you havent watched any of the last 6 or 7 el clasicos which have been a showcase of diving, cheating, surrounding the ref and mourinho arguing with anyone he can find. Mixed in with some good technical football from barca.

      not saying that the match yesterday was good, it was far from it, however the majority of fierce derbys arent good games technically.

  12. Gaffer, you have hit the nail on the head. I would add that it is yet another sign that Sir Alex has even lost more respect for Liverpool. I’ve never seen Ferguson, as seen with his team selection, look past this fixture as he did yesterday. With 19 titles, he has nothing prove and Manchester glides towards it’s 20th. Even the perch is being pissed on. Liverpool’s failure to take advantage, proved him right.

  13. Anfield has seen better days, they are no longer a force. Look for a mid table finish for Liverpool and the table for Manchester.

  14. The fact that Liverpool at home couldn’t beat an under-strength United side shows how far they are from the top. I do agree with Kevin Keegan that United’s lineup was an insult to Liverpool but it showed that Fergie knows that Liverpool are nowhere nearly good enough to trouble United home or away. That’s why Fergie looked past Liverpool and as he said after the game that he always knew United had the quality to get something from the game as he had the players on the bench if things didn’t work out with the starting lineup. In fact he had readied Rooney, nani and Chicarito to come in just before Liverpool scored as he was sure he could get a goal. That’s the difference between United and Liverpool. Liverpool had no one on the bench that you can count on to score. Carroll is a bust. Liverpool will be lucky to get a top 6 spot as teams like Stoke and Newcastle are close to them. United, City, Chelsea and Spuers are way better than Liverpool. Of course we’ll have to wait and see what business each team does in January as things could turn with new players coming in. But right now Liverpool are nowhere nearly as good as the top teams.

  15. MU should be happy. Ferguson basically started the B-team so that he could ensure champions league qualifications. The B-team was just about enough to handle the job. Liverpool would not have scored had it not been for Ryan Giggs bit of foolishness and Suarez’s incessant diving. I could complain about the lack of good refereeing but I think that was obvious.

  16. With the international break, and Liverpool welcoming back its oft-injnured (at least recently) talisman into a revamped team it is hard to read very much into this game. I know everyone wants to think every single game is the most important game ever until the next weekend, but in reality we will know a lot more about Liverpool by the new year. While this game changes nothing about the knowledge that Manchester United will at least challenge for the title.

  17. While the Liverpool goal did not stem from a Suarez dive, oh my goodness. That guy falls over more easily than my 8 month old toddler.
    If a butterfly flaps its wings in China, Suarez would fall over, especially when inside the opposition penalty area.
    Suarez is a highly skilled player, but I do not want him anywhere near a United jersey. I will reserve judgment for the racism claims against him, but this guy has plenty of priors in cheating (World Cup), violence (Mike Tyson impersonation), and diving.Some United players are no saint off field, but this kind of behavior is just ridiculous.

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