Sunday, January 09, 2011

Gerrard gets his comeuppance and not before time as Liverpool crash out of FA Cup...

As great as he can be when he's at his best, Steven Gerrard finally got what has been coming to him for quite some time; the Liverpool captain was given a straight red at Old Trafford in today's FA Cup tie for what could be described as a typical over the top two-footed Gerrard tackle.

No doubt, in part due to who he is, "Stevie G" has got away with it down the years, with too many referee's appearing to be lenient towards the Liverpool captain but today Webb wasn't about to duck his responsibility.

Thankfully, the recipient of Gerrard's lunge, Michael Carrick was not seriously injured, but when you launch yourself into an airborne two-footed challenge there is a danger of carnage - TV replays confirmed it was the right decision - he had to go. At that point in the contest, Liverpool were already a goal behind after Ryan Giggs had given table-topping United the lead in the first minute.

Referee Howard Webb was in charge of what always is a difficult game for the officials and from the first kick there was controversy, when United were awarded a very soft penalty when Berbatov went down inside the Liverpool penalty area. Giggs converted the resulting spot-kick with a fine low drive to Reinna's left; Liverpool's Spanish stopper appeared to get his fingertips on the ball, but he was powerless to stop it.

From that point onwards, it was always going to be difficult and it was, but with Kenny Dalglish restored as the new manager of Liverpool after a 20 year absence, the visitors ensured that United didn't have it all their own way.

Even with ten men, Liverpool matched United all over the park, especially in midfield where Fletcher and Carrick failed to capitalise on the extra man advantage. Fletcher had a poor game and once again he was guilty of giving the ball away cheaply on too many occasions - though to be fair, he supplied the ball to Berbatov which led to the penalty.

Fletcher got himself needlessly booked early in the first-half after he'd given away the ball; it was a schoolboy error, the Scot should have known he was in close proximity to his marker, but he received the ball, turned and promptly passed it to Dirk Kuyt. Fletcher then fouled Kuyt and Howard Webb booked him. From that point onwards, Fletcher's influence was affected and his passing let him down on numerous occasions, he was eventually replaced by Anderson in the second-half but he did no better and he too got himself needlessly booked after losing the ball just minutes after his introduction.

Johnny Evans hit the woodword with a powerful header just before the break, but apart from that, there wasn't many clear-cut goal scoring opportunities.

United improved after the break and boy did they need to. Liverpool were on the rack briefly but United were unable to break down the visitors.

Berbatov, contrary to the view of the match sponsors, did not have a great game, the Bulgarian's touch deserted him today. Giggs was United's best performer and by some distance - he made one mazey run down the left early in the second-half, one that was reminiscent of days of yore. Giggs is a left winger and Fergie should play him in his best position because once again he showed that he is still capable of performing at the highest level and in his favoured position.

With no Nemanja Vidic due to injury, Rio Ferdinand marshalled United's back four alongside Evans, on the whole they handled Fernando Torres quite well, but it's fair to say the Spanish striker was starved of service after the Gerrard sending off.

Wayne Rooney was left out of the United squad due to an ankle injury, his replacement Hernandez did okay, but he was replaced by Michael Owen late on in the second-half. Owen looked quite sharp on his return to the first-team, but the goal the United fans were hoping for didn't materialise.

Ferguson will be delighted with the result, if not entirely satisfied with the level of what was at times another unconvincing performance against a team who have been struggling. Liverpool fans will also be happy, not least because Dalglish is back in harness.

7 comments:

  1. I completely agree with your comments regarding Gerrard.

    I think referee's are too reluctant to send off senior England players at times so it was about time we saw some strong-minded refereeing.

    Not an overly convincing display by United, but how many times have we said that this season?

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  2. Gerrard had to go for that challenge. It was disgraceful. Liverpool fans have never been able to take defeat well. They should be grateful we never got out of first gear and really tear them apart.

    Dalglish is in way over his head. 2 games, 2 defeats. They are in serious trouble.

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  3. Anthony,

    Yes, can you just imagine if Nani had committed that foul? We'd never have heard the last of it. With St Gerrard it is brushed under the carpet.

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  4. Dave,

    Let us hope so! Ref Kenny, the messiah...

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  5. Great result, not-so-great performance. We weren't great but somehow got the job done- story of our season, eh?

    On another note, Giggsy had his first good game in a while, which is a relief considering our second-choice left winger at the moment is Gabby Obertan. The lad is talented alright- his decision-making can just be frustrating at times.

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  6. Great result, not-so-great performance. We weren't great but somehow got the job done- story of our season, eh?

    On another note, Giggsy had his first good game in a while, which is a relief considering our second-choice left winger at the moment is Gabby Obertan. The lad is talented alright- his decision-making can just be frustrating at times.

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  7. Delay,

    I agree with all of that. Regarding Obertan, it looks to me as if he's playing witht he proverbial handbrake on at times. I think he needs to take a leaf out of Giggsy's book and just run hell for leather at oppenents while bobbing and weaving: If I was his coach I'd be telling him just that, he needs to show more self-belief.

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