An Afternoon of Mixed Fortunes At The Theatre of Dreams
We have for the last seven days been told by most of the media that the game this afternoon was the biggest in the football calendar. Now I would love to know why that is because it was simply a game between two rivals based in the North West of England. Two rivals who have been battling it out over the last twenty years to simply prove a point.
That point of course boils down to who will win the most trophies. Now as we all know Manchester United are in the lead where the Premiership is concerned, because apart from four years ago when Rafa Benitez was in charge, Liverpool have not come close anywhere close enough to ensure that they are knocked of their perch. Where the Champions League/European Cup is concerned, we have won it five times and Manchester United is playing catch up.
The game today was part and parcel of that fierce competition and it was always either going to be a classic or indeed one of those games that left the supporter wondering what would happen if things had been done differently.
A classic it wasn't and it was us as supporters of Liverpool Football Club, who were left asking the 'What if' questions, because for the first 45 minutes our performance was less than acceptable.
Now I have nothing against Joe Allen - he is young and has a lot to learn, but playing him against Manchester United was a massive mistake. He simply is not good enough at the moment and his form over the last couple of weeks has been terrible. It would have been far better for Brendan to have put the much improved Jordan Henderson in from the beginning.
Because he did not, Stevie's performance suffered because he was following and covering up for Joe Allen's mistakes rather than concentrating on his own performance. We only saw the Stevie we all know and love once the lad had been taken off the pitch. This of course allowed Stevie to roam a lot more and ensured that the game flowed in the right way.
Joe of course was not the only offender in the first half, because none of the players appeared to be able to settle into the game and it was not long before Manchester United scored their first goal. A goal, which had been coming because yet again our defence was not concentrating on what it should have been doing.
That goal of course came from Robin Van Persie who having caught Daniel Agger out, picked up a ball from Patrice Evra and sent it flying into the back of the net. It was a goal that proved to most of us that players of Robin's age can be a great asset to a team. An asset that FSG appear to have decided is not within their remit and I really do think that eventually Liverpool will suffer because of it.
It is fine believing that youngster are the future, but sometimes someone with an old head on his shoulders can do just as well. Raheem Sterling and Andre Wisdom did as well as they could today, but it become evident very quickly that Manchester United was all over them. Two experienced players may well have helped to keep Manchester United a lot quieter than they were in the first half.
If the truth be known, the whole team were being walked over and to be honest, it was amazing that they reached the half time whistle with only one goal against them.
As the first half drew to a close it also looked as though we may have to change our goalkeeper. Pepe having left his goal open went into a tackle to try and stop an ingoing ball and ended up being hurt. It was several minutes before he received attention, but thankfully appeared to fine and came out for the second half.
Now that second half, proved that yet again, Liverpool turn up, when they feel like it. Brendan had taken Lucas off and put Daniel Sturridge on. Now I would have taken off Joe Allen at this point and put Jordan Henderson rather than leave until the last ten minutes. I am not Brendan though and I respect his choices, although nine times out ten, in my eyes they are totally wrong.
This of course, led to a change in formation and ensured that Luis Suarez began to receive the service that he had been missing in the first half. Suddenly Manchester United were beginning to look vulnerable and were there for the taking. Liverpool had woken up and with gaps opening up in the Manchester United defense, Daniel Sturridge proved yet again, why at some point in the future, if all goes to plan he will be remembered for some great goals.
After watching Manchester United gain a further goal, it was only a matter of minutes before Daniel picked up a ball that David De Gea had fisted away and sent it flying into the back of the net. Liverpool had narrowed the gap and turned the match on its head.
Liverpool suddenly gave the impression that a draw was possible and did all they could to try and get the second goal. Brendan sensed this too and sent on Fabio Borini for Joe Allen, which not only freed up Stevie but meant that we had three forwards on the pitch. Fabio Borini of course has only just returned from injury and sent his shot wide. Hopefully once he is fully fit, we will see his balls go into the back of the net.
The players kept pressing though and if luck had been on Daniel's side, his shot on the eighty fifth minute would have found the back of net rather than go wide and Liverpool would have been level. It was not to be and Liverpool have dropped a further three points.
Three points that could in the end mean that we will not make the top four this season and I really hope that FSG wake up and realize that we need players in the team that will ensure that the Champions League is part and parcel of our season once again. It will also ensure that Manchester United will eventually be knocked from their perch.