Liverpool had the perfect opportunity to put right the disappointing loss to West Ham United just over a fortnight ago with a trip to Old Trafford and a meeting with a Manchester United side that looked just as out of sorts as the Reds, but a startaling lack of composure on the ball and a dearth of creativity in the rare moments they did have it made the trip up the M62 a disappointing one.
“Overall, we had plenty of effort and commitment but we needed to be better with the ball,” explained Reds boss Brendan Rodgers in his post-match interview. “I just felt we needed to be much better in terms of showing for the ball and wanting the ball. For me, it’s too late when you go 1-0 behind. I like players who take the initiative in the game, be proactive in the game, and second half we were a bit better at that,” he continued. “You need to [be better] technically and you have to be superior with the ball in order to build your attack, said the Northern Irishman before adding, “That’s something I need to go away with the coaches and staff and have a look at and how we can find ways in which to be much more creative.”
Video courtesy of MrBeanyman
For a team supposedly built with ball retention and attacking football in mind, Liverpool looked a shell of the kind of side Rodgers likes to think they are; for all the character and heart and swagger he’s famous for spouting off about, the Reds never looked like the idealized version of the team he’s so eager to describe. Though there are a number of important players set to return from injury over the coming weeks, one has to wonder that even though he recognizes that there’s are problems, whether or not he’s able to fix them. Empirical evidence just doesn’t support that — even if he insists otherwise.
“This is the biggest game in this country and maybe in the world in terms of a derby game. I’ve been in here and sat down when we won 3-0 and felt great and when you lose 3-1 you don’t feel so good,” he said, over simplifying things a bit too much. “It’s difficult for the supporters and everyone connected to the club; when you win it, it’s a different feeling. We’ve just got to go away and work even harder at being better, and that’ll be the case,” explained the Reds boss. “The players are bitterly disappointed because they know we can play better than that and over the course of the season I’m sure they will but as you can see there’s still a lot of hard work ahead for us. The players are still learning and adapting to how we work.”