Saturday, March 14, 2009

United pay price for sloppiness in Liverpool rout.....

Manchester United were on the wrong end of 4-1 hammering by Liverpool at Old Trafford today, the margin of the win will send shockwaves around the football world given that not even the most optimistic of Liverpool fans could have anticipated such a big victory over the Premier League leaders.

Losing this game did not come as a total shock, even if the manner of the defeat was alarming. Ahead of what is always a tough encounter I had warned that the danger signs were there in midweek against Inter Milan, but thankfully the Italians did not take advantage of United's sloppiness in midfield; today it was a different story with mistakes in defence being punished.

United had started the game brightly as once again the champions made the perfect start after going ahead from an early Ronaldo penalty following good work by Tevez and Park (United's best two players on the day).

Ronaldo converted the resulting spot-kick, but after that breakthrough, his performance left much to be desired - in a nutshell the world player of year simply didn't look interested, because there were too many occasions when Ronaldo lacked desire to support those in Red shirts when it was needed.

Ronaldo wasn't the only United player who looked jaded, apart from one second-half turn and shot, Carrick had another game to forget - which made it two in a week because his passing was appalling, just as it was against Inter Milan.

It wasn't long before Liverpool hit back at United after Nemanja Vidic, of all players, was made to pay for failing to effectively deal with a routine high ball; instead of using his head, the big Serbian tried to control the ball and turn, which gave Torres half a chance to pinch the ball, which he did before beating Van der Sar with a cool finish to level the sore.

The mistakes didn't end there though, as Gerrard was brought down in the United penalty area by Evra and the Liverpool skipper converted the spot-kick.

United came out after the break and rested a degree of control from the visitors for fifteen minutes, but United couldn't find a way through the Liverpool rear-guard.

Then on 76 mins, Vidic capped-off a day to forget when bringing down Steven Gerrard for which he was sent-off. United fans might well be asking why Reina wasn't sent off for the earlier challenge on Park which led to the Reds first-half penalty. It is a fair question to ask given that last season Tomasz Kuszczak was sent-off in an FA Cup tie and Rio Ferdinand had to replace him in goal.

To add to United's woes, Aurelio slotted the resulting free-kick when leaving Edwin van der Sar rooted to his goal line, after that third goal there was no way back into the game for United.

Second-half substitute, Dossena made it four on 90 minutes. Steven Gerrard missed an easy chance to make it five after another passage of rank bad defending by a very ragged United defence.

In the wake of this heavy defeat there will be much soul-searching by Fergie and his players. Going into this game, the United manager freshened up his team when leaving out veterans Scholes and Giggs, but he also left out Berbatov plus Fletcher. Anderson, Park and Tevez came in as replacements, the Argentine and the South Korean were two of United's better performers on the day; which begs the question was tiredness an issue coming on the back of some big games recently, coupled with the fact that Liverpool had the benefit of an extra day's rest after the respective midweek Champions League games?

Losing to Liverpool is bad enough, but in all honesty, the situation could have been a whole lot worse if Inter Milan had taken advantage of United's sloppiness in midweek, that is the only upside to what was a rout at Old Trafford today.

Perhaps a defeat was coming after such a wonderful run in all competitions; time will tell how the rest of the season will pan out for United. In the context of what lies ahead, the best way to deal with today's setback is to learn from it and bounce back - that is the hope for United supporters and the manager.

One thing is for sure, talk of the quintuple will be dampened. There is also an argument the Premier League is all the stronger because of the Liverpool win, but that view will not be shared by United or the supporters who will have to lick their collective wounds until the next game comes around.

5 comments:

  1. The reason Reina wasn't sent off was because Park was going nowhere, he wasn't attacking the goal directly, he was going back out toward the deadball line, and there was minimal contact, whereas Gerrard would have been through on goal had Vidic not pulled him down, plus he'd already been booked so it was a stupid challenge. It's simple really.

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  2. It wasn't the defeat that disappoints me most, it was the body language of the players which was just appalling! Vidic, however good he might be, had a howler of a game today. Ferdinand wasn't so good either. Neither was O'Shea, but lets be honest, he rarely is while defending. Evra okay maybe...if you don't count the penalty. There was no motivation in them, and you'd have imagined that they'd be charged before an encounter of this magnitude.

    Sure it doesn't change much in the title race. But what troubles me is not questions like "Will United slip up now?" or "Liverpool have done the double on them, they surely will go on to win it right?", its the lack of motivation before such big matches, when you need all the quality in the side to shine and you end up watching a player of Carrick's talent pass the ball like a nobody.

    Deeply disappointed, but hoping for a much hungrier and better team performance next time around.

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  3. Yeah, Reina could have been red-carded for a last-man tackle, but it would take extraordinary courage by a referee to flash the red card in the first half-hour in such an important game.

    By the time he red-carded Vidic, United had pretty much thrown away the game.

    This was again, a 'game of suicide', I think the United players lacked the hunger, the desire, the creativity to break down Liverpool's defence. And on the day, I would be more than happy with a 1-0 after scoring the penalty.

    It was a surreal performance by United, this might have significant implications for the rest of the season, for we can remember last season that, it was a comparable 4-1 drubbing we gave to Arsenal, even though they were many points ahead, that turned the season around (albeit it might have been in the F.A. Cup), but psychologically, it changed the course of the campaign.

    Let's hope Sir Alex picks up and his squad pick up, because the season is far from over, and the matches are only going to get harder. I don't know if its just me, but the United players just didn't seem motivated enough, and personally I think Van der Sar could have done better with that one-on-one.

    I'm hoping Ferguson's odd remarks on Wednesday aren't having bearing on United performances, because they should hit the reset button rapidly.

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  4. Reina was Liverpool's last line of defence, if Park was going "nowhere" then why did the keeper bring him down? I think there was a compelling argument that Reina should have walked.

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  5. I also agree with the points raised by Uday and CrimScReam. It was very bad day for United. Let's just hope that fergie can sort it out.

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