If you’ve seen Manchester United play bad once, then you’ve probably seen them win a thousand times; I suppose you can make that a thousand and one with a late smash and grab winner not only giving the Red Devils all three-points at Anfield, but almost certainly ending their most bitter rivals chances of securing a top four finish this season.
Now, if you’ve seen the visitors snatch an unwarranted victory, you’ve definitely seen Liverpool control the match only to come up short — and that was certainly the case here. You’d be hard pressed to find someone to say that the Reds weren’t in the ascendancy for the bulk of proceedings, but a lack of composure at the business end of the park rather than the high ball into the box was ultimately their undoing.
By the time Louis van Gaal’s side registered their first and only shot on target just shy of the 80th minute, they should have been dead and half way to being buried. Adam Lallana, Roberto Firmino, Jordan Henderson and Emre Can all saw gilt edged opportunities either trickle just wide or end up on the gloves of United ‘keeper David de Gea as Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp was once again left to rue his sides poor showing in the final third.
“I didn’t see too many chances for Manchester United and we didn’t take ours,” he told the BBC immediately following the final whistle. “Of course it is frustrating. We lost a game that we should not have lost,” continued the German manager. “We did really well creating the chances, but there were a lot of situations where we could have created more chances and didn’t,” said Klopp before adding, “There were a lot of things but we lost in a derby against Manchester United so I can’t be very positive at this moment so soon after the game.”
And who would blame him? After creating virtually nothing of note for almost 80-minutes, it was an all too familiar scene as Wayne Rooney smashed home after Marouane Fellaini’s header thumped off the crossbar. Set piece? Check. A ball played high into the box? Check. Poor showing in the air? Check. The red club from Manchester doing the double over Liverpool? Double check.
I just puked in my mouth a bit — ok, fine, it was a lot.
At risk of beating a dead horse, the worst part isn’t that we gave up the goal, it’s that we didn’t score our own. The midfield’s lack of output in front of the net has been a concern for some time, but the responsibility of runningcan up the tally only falls on their shoulders so much — it’s a striker’s job to score goals and it’s becoming increasingly obvious that the only one that isn’t currently on a treatment table somewhere just doesn’t mesh with the style of play that Klopp is employing at Anfield.
Give Daniel Sturridge, who is yet to return from his “mini pre-season” training regime, Lallana’s chance in the first half and he takes that delicious ball from Lucas and makes de Gea pay for even thinking about trying to rush it down. Hand Danny Ings the opportunity Henderson had when the captain was released into the box after a scintillating series of flicks, feints and passes around the back saw him go one on one with the United ‘keeper and the former Burnely man finishes that off with one testicle tied to his ear. Even young Divock Origi bags at least one in that contest, but we continue to pay for our lack of a fit finisher up top.
Which, of course, is exactly how the Red Devils came to collect. Burdened with injury problems of their own, it’s hard to cry the blues about this player or that missing out, but when you’ve got a striker in form, you always have a shot. It’s not too often that Rooney needs more than one chance to smack one home from inside the box. And at Anfield, where he hadn’t scored since 2005, and that late in the match in front of the travelling support? He wasn’t missing.
I puked some more. I’m done with this now.