Although Manchester United walk away from Anfield with three points, thus completing their league double against Liverpool for the second season running, their performance in the game was far from impressive.
The lone strike from Rooney was enough for the Red Devils from Manchester as a lot of attempts from the Scousers were deemed pointless either by de Gea or by their own poor finishing.
Here we have some of the talking points from the game.
Manchester United could do with signing Felipe Anderson. The travelling fans would have not at all been satisfied with what they saw. The performance from United was below par to say the least, but in the end, they got the goal which might just save Louis van Gaal, at least for now.
With only five shots, Van Gaal really needs to step up United’s game if they are to at least qualify for the Champions League. United’s game lacks pace and creativity and most of all, that X-factor which made United what they are.
With only Anthony Martial trying to break the monotonous approach United have had in recent weeks, the squad lacks the willingness to take on defenders or, to put it bluntly, score. The effort which gave United the three points was perhaps the only one which did not involve Martial.
Signing Felipe Anderson would not only bring pace to United’s attacks but will increase the probability of them scoring. The kind of player that Anderson is, and the fact that he is available for them to sign should be enough motivation for United to splash the cash. The team as of now isn’t one which can handle intense derby matches like these.
The fact that Liverpool didn’t score on their home ground even though they had 14 attempts of which 5 were on target is self-explanatory of what Jurgen Klopp needs to do. The free flowing passes which cut through United’s defence like scissors through paper could not once find the back of the net.
For 10 minutes or after the half-hour mark, Liverpool looked dangerous to say the least as their long balls and build-up play reached United’s penalty area with astonishing ease. But United fans were never really on the edge of their seats in the fear of conceding a goal.
With David de Gea in the form of his life and Liverpool lacking lethal finishing, the Scousers, who were in the driving seat of the match, were never really going to walk away with three points. Jurgen Klopp has to find a decent striker whom he can rely on to win matches as all the players he has are incredible when it comes to creating chances. What he needs is someone who can capitalize on those chances.
There were times in the game when Lingard and Martial needed support on the flanks but there was no one to do so and they ended up losing the ball or in Martial’s case, taking on defenders even in the most ridiculous of places. What more can be said about the faulty tactics Van Gaal has adopted. Even though his team won the game and the points that come with it, this has to be one of the most unsatisfactory performances of late.
Ander Herrera was forced to come to the wide players to provide support, leaving gaps in the middle of the park. Both full backs for United were nowhere to be seen in the opposition half. Why this particular tactic is faulty is that none of the full backs that United have on their roster are defensive full backs. Imagine Luke Shaw not making sharp runs on the wings, waiting instead for an attack from the opposition to build.
In the modern football, full backs are essential to say the least and if you look at teams like Barcelona and Juventus, the teams who have been successful in recent months, their full backs have been integral in their play. With such tactics especially without the players who conventionally play such a style of football, United are going nowhere.
Although believed to be competent even on his other flank, Damian’s brief performance as a left back was abysmal. His positioning was poor and his runs were badly timed. With Lallana and Milner changing flanks effectively, Darmian was left befuddled and was ineffective both on and off the ball.
After some impressive performances in the start of his career as a Red Devil, his performances of late have been questionable. Darmian on the left, with the fullbacks not allowed to enter the opposition half, is not a threat as an attacker and a neither a presence defensively. With Young picking up an injury in today’s match, it would be wiser to play him on his natural wing and give Borthwick-Jackson a chance to prove himself.
The lack of energy in the stadium amongst the fans tells you the Red Derby is no longer what it used to be. A game which commanded an aura of tension and speculation has now become a dull affair. Even the lustre the lineups contained at one time is now lost. No Gerrard, Xabi, Luis Garcia or Fernando Torres for the home side and no Giggs, Ronaldo, Keane or Scholes for the away team.
The game has become such a quiet affair that it has now become easier for the referees. The players, relatively new to this rivalry on both the sides, never show the hunger this game usually saw. Even the Liverpool fans were not as agitated when Rooney, a scouser, scored. Back in the day, they would have gone crazy which would have propelled the players to perform better and possibly score.
Playing Liverpool at Anfield used to be a matter of great importance for fans all over for the bragging rights and it was a great game to look forward to for the neutrals, but tonight’s game fell well short of such expectations.