Man Utd v Liverpool – 15/01/2017 – An Outsider’s View
Well… that was rubbish.
I know I should have some kind of eloquent, witty line about this titanic clash but, frankly, it was as drab as my Grandma’s curtains. It had all the sophistication of a Michael Owen observation and quality as limited as Owen Hargreaves’ vocabulary. It was awful.
I say this as a Man Utd fan who can kid himself that we should have nicked all three points but, in truth, I’m just glad to be spared the Whatsapp abuse that was six minutes away and fully deserved. Why do I say that?
Because all the stats suggest Liverpool were the superior team. Because Man Utd have to admit that, after Zlatan, Marcus Rojo was their best player. Because the tide only shifted when they threw on that tree, Groot, AKA Fellaini, to play Allardyce-style Pulis-ball. This should have been a game of unrivalled passion, slick passing and relentless attacking.
Instead, Man Utd, Ibrahimovic aside, had a game that is best described as rabbit-in-the-headlights. Pogba froze and got his £89 million backside handed to him by Dejan Lovren, time after time, during set pieces. Carrick’s passing range didn’t just make me wish Fellaini was on the pitch. I was pining for Eric Djemba-Djemba!
From the start, I looked at that Liverpool team and I fancied Man Utd’s chances: Henderson just back and not fully sharp – An unknown youngster at right back, primed for Martial to tear him to pieces – A Liverpool team that looked leggy on Wednesday and was doing far more of the running early on. I thought to myself ‘Get through the first twenty minutes and we’ll have them.’ It hinted at happening and then, somehow, faded away.
Then Pogba rose for his star moment. I don’t know if it was a nervous reaction or his name/hashtag was spinning around Old Trafford distracting him but what made him give away that penalty is a mystery. The only decent explanation is the craving to dab got too much and BOOM! Spot kick to Milner. Even with a world class goalkeeper in De Gea between the sticks, I was still happy to bet a swift kick in the nuts he wouldn’t miss. The absence of scrotum pain did not soothe my Red Devil soul.
Man Utd may have got the equaliser but it was fresh from the Sunday Pub League manual. Lump it into the big fella and hope something drops for someone. Yes, Zlatan did well with it but it shouldn’t have needed that. Pogba and Mkhitaryan both should have scored but well played to Mignolet, he was outstanding. People forget that Wijnaldum could and should have scored. They forget that Liverpool looked menacing every time they went forward, while Man Utd seemed to be relying on deflections and second-balls.
Maybe a draw was the fair result but I think Man Utd fans should be far happier about it. A draw keeps us in the hunt for a top four spot. For Liverpool, I think that result leaves their title challenge hanging by a thread. With a game against Chelsea on the horizon, that has become must-win for Liverpool if they want to stay in the hunt. With Spurs and Arsenal also lined up in the next six Premier League games, it could be make-or-break for Klopp’s men. Man Utd’s fixture list looks far more forgiving.
Meaning this game was pretty much for nothing. Liverpool need to find their second wind or get Senegal knocked out of the African Cup of Nations, so Mane can get back on the pitch.
Let’s, however, not be all doom and gloom: Man City got a spanking and it was absolutely hilarious. Every cloud…