After yesterday’s result Liverpool fans have a right to be a little despondent as there was not much encouraging that we could have got from seeing that display. Manchester United got the game of to a start and it was they who did the early pressing putting the Liverpool team under intense pressure in the first 20 minutes. Although two goals from Captain Steven Gerrard or Captain Fantastic as he is known as wasn’t enough to salvage a point and it was down to defensive errors that let us down in the end.
This however you cannot take anything away from Berbatov who was outstanding on the day and his second goal was world class you cannot defend against that. Let’s half a look at the first goal, it was a poor passage of playing with Liverpool in an attacking position and the play broke down when a poor pass from Torres gave the ball away from which Man Utd got their corner. The first one was defended but the 2nd was not. Torres had hold of Berbatov and had he not scored would have conceded a penalty. Torres did not get goal side or in front of his man to make the chance more difficult. Knocheskey who was meant to be on the post was virtually behind the keeper so if he had done his job maybe we would have gone in level at the break.
The first half display wasn’t good enough though for me Koncheskey had a very poor game and was caught cold on numerous occasions, he’s a player who has been brought in to sure up the left hand side of the defence and was found wanting on many occasions, I for one was not impressed with him what so ever. It’s how you play in the big games that count and he was very poor. In general for all the possession Liverpool had in the first half they did nothing with it even when in space there was no intention to go forward it was all sideward’s and back ward’s passing, if you watch the game closely you will see this, even when the players had space to turn and give the forward service he did not get it.
In recent weeks a lot has been made of Torres’s body language and reference had been made to say that he does not want to be Liverpool but he’s been feeding off scraps and not getting the service he requires and thrives off, there was only maybe one occasion when he got the ball in the first half and was able to have a run at the United defence, other than that there was nothing there.
In the second half you could see the change in mentality from the Liverpool players from the start and a much more positive approach was taken and it was the forward ball towards Torres that was causing threat. The manager had rightly made the decision to take off Maxi Rodriguez who offered very little attack threat and replaced him with Ngog and it wasn’t long after this substitution that Torres was found in space only to be hacked down by Jonny Evans allowing the captain to score from the spot. 6 minutes later Torres was hauled down by John O’Shea and the captain restored hope and this was the time when reds fans would have thought just maybe we can get the win when just moments ago this was unthinkable.
However this was not the case it looked like United had lost their way and was heading towards another draw but Berbatov rose above Jamie Carragher to head the ball home and seal the win. This was a harsh blow and this could be seen on the faces of the players as final whistle was blown.
Let’s get this straight though we cannot say that we was even close to matching Manchester United for long period of the game we did not match them and it was down to Gerrard to drag the team from being two goals down, he was the only one to have shown any passion, he preformed his role that he has been doing for a long time and that is leading from the front.
It seem like Liverpool had set up their stall to hold Manchester United and it was a negative approach that cost us as we just did not have the quality to that nor was there any attacking invention.
I’ve said this previously and Hodgson needs time, the main task will be getting the club back in to the Champions League and a good cup run but talks of winning the league are too far beyond this team. One thing that cost Liverpool was the ability to deal with the cross and the defensive pairing of Carragher and Martin Srktel looked very shaky, I personally had expected Agger to start. Paul Koncheskey also struggled during this fixture.
Joe Cole also struggled on the wings during this fixture and Poulsen and Meireles to relatively new players to Liverpool, Poulsen was conservative and Meireles only showed glimpses of what he’ll offer to the team as the season goes on. Meireles was one of the better players on the day although this is scant consolation he should have stayed on and played the full 90 minutes.
Torres was light years away from the striker who reduced Nemanja Vidic to an ill-disciplined wreck when Liverpool won 4-1 at Old Trafford in March 2009. Vidic was the winner here, while Torres cut an isolated figure. Still he invited the fouls in which Liverpool got their equalisers.
Torres is being starved of quality service for a start and there also appears to be an issue of mind and body. If Torres gives off one clear signal at present, it is that he does not quite trust his fitness after his recent injury problems.
It seems a long time ago from when Liverpool hammered united 4-1 at old Trafford and a catalogue of errors have now lead the club to where it is at the moment and now the struggle is to get the club amongst Europe’s elite and in the reckoning from the Premier League however this is a long way off.
It’s going to take a while for Hodgson but he must know Liverpool need to improve their performances and rediscover the winning touch and go on a run to ensure that the club is where they should be. It’s clear to see that the first half display was awful and although it was improved in the 2nd half it’s clear that they need to start producing the goods on the pitch the time for talk is over.
It is important that Liverpool win their next games before the international break and try and find some consistency to their performances. It’s true that it has been a tough start to the season playing Arsenal, Manchester City and Manchester United but these are the teams that Liverpool wants to be competing and challenging with so it gives an indication of where the squad is in relation to that of their main competition.
On a side note I disagree with Alex Ferguson’s claims that Torres is a cheat and tried to get O’Shea sent off. Ferguson should look at his own players before labelling others as it was clear to see Agger’s annoyance at Nani going to ground in the penalty area without being touched and just going to ground on every occasion was not the appreciated by the Liverpool players. Let’s not forget Ronaldo who was also known for such play acting tactics during his time at United. I feel Roy should have defended Torres from such claims and hit back.
It’s clear that it’s not time to panic yet but it’s difficult to see they can do to change their fortunes. We are improving and the second half performance was really good. If we play like that every week then we can take heart but more performances like the first half then we will be in for very long season indeed.
Liverpool need start playing football from the back and bring the midfielders in otherwise the team with struggle as this is cutting out the creativity the midfield players such as Gerrard, Cole and Meireles bring, the one thing clear is that the squad doesn’t seem as strong as the teams we are competing with. It also seemed clear that Liverpool need to be more attack minded as this was a very negative display overall from a team struggling to find form.