Notwithstanding the failure to clinch all three points against ‘the enemy’, the Reds come out buoyed with a truly convincing performance against what remains arguably the best team in the PL. Some of you may recall my ‘Prophecy’ article a couple of days earlier. I got most of it wrong (of course!) but I did get a couple of things spot on. What I got wrong: the formation, the game-plan, the final result. What I got right: Gerrard scoring first (albeit not from a penalty which we incidentally were denied a few minutes earlier), Hernandez scoring the equalizer, and also that the Reds would play one or two notches up on the tempo.
We played 4-5-1 because we wanted midfield supremacy. They played 4-5-1 because they were weary of us. Some commented on Fergie leaving his star trio (Rooney, Nani and Hernandez) out of the starting line-up, but then even when they came on, bar the amnesic moment from that corner kick, our defense and defensive midfield looked on top of their game and I can’t remember Pepe doing any save worthy to be called a game-saver! That, of course, cannot be said of Senior De Gea!
Some rapid considerations on our team: Pepe was solid and had no particular responsibility for the goal conceded, Kelly has made the right-back position his own as far as I am concerned, Carra played well, and so did Skrtel (excluding his ‘slip’ on Chicharito’s equalizer). Enrique is worth every penny we spent on him and he will make his country’s national team in the near future. Lucas priceless, Gerrard legend, Adam much improved. Downing and Kuyt both gave in a good shift and Suarez….well; he rarely gets a game wrong does he? Oh, and Hendo! He certainly looked the part alongside Gerrard. Had that strike gone in he would have risen to legendary status and it took the very best of De Gea repertoire to keep it out!
I do think we made a statement last Saturday. I do feel that Gerrard’s return has given the team an enhanced glow and an aura of added commitment. I think the preparation for this game was very good and that in this instance we were unlucky not to give the Mancs their first defeat of the season. Four points from an away derby and a home encounter with Utd is not a bad tally, on the contrary. Now we need consistency. We need to stay within contact, we need to become unbeatable at home, and fearless away.
Definitely on the right track!