Manchester United got what they came for at Anfield on Sunday, while Liverpool were just left with a feeling of ‘what if’?
I’VE all the respect in the world for the people who do The Anfield Wrap’s Post-Match Show.
How Damian Kavanagh, Ste Evans and Ben Johno could sit there and speak actual sentences is beyond me. Had anyone shoved a microphone under my nose at full-time on Sunday I would have replied in a burst of one or two-word sentences…
“Nunez. Offside. Again! Injury time??? Where? Shoot! Just shoot! Stop shooting! Just stop shooting from everywhere! Six points! Six fucking points!!!”
Then I would have wandered back to the car, safe in the knowledge that I’d made some strong, lucid points there and would soon be replacing Ian Wright as the main pundit on Match Of The Day before too long.
Six points. That’s what hurts the most. A six-point lead against the only real title rival. I mean no disrespect to Arsenal and Aston Villa, and if they’re still in touch in May then fair enough, but as Michael Corleone said, our true enemy is yet to reveal himself. We played against the whole of Manchester on Sunday. It could have been a six-point advantage, but it’s still four. And 10.
But on Sunday Liverpool were disjointed, tired and a little slow. Actually, we’ve been there for a while but the late goals have dug us out. There’s still a lot of work to be done, though as Johnno said on the Post-Match Show, we’re trying to compare them to one of the greatest Liverpool sides we’ve ever seen. That’s hardly fair or sustainable.
A lot of that work is based on positions as much as ability. Is the Trent Alexander-Arnold thing working? I mean, I’d like the best right back in the world to play right back, but a man with a lot more knowledge than me says otherwise. I just can’t see it personally. No one ever took the guitar off Jimi Hendrix, handed him a bassoon and said: ‘Go on then.’
United will be buoyed by Sunday. I wondered if we’d ever gone to Old Trafford and took three minutes per goal kick just to get a point. I’m sure we have, but I can’t remember it. I’m glad they played like that.
It’s reassuring to know that the opposition have no intention of playing for a win and they let us know that just 90 seconds into the game. I don’t know, maybe if we’d set up like that in the ‘90s we might have got something.
As unpleasant as it is, it’s a recognised tactic and won them their game while we lost ours, so it’s all fair.
I hate draws. The only good draws are stolen ones.
Incidentally, was the United red card the least satisfying red card in the history of the fixture. At that point who cared? I’d rather he just gave us the throw-in.
We could have gone six points ahead of the world’s most expensive team before Christmas with a new midfield and without one of our main strikers and left back. That’s what stung.
But I suppose this is where we are. I thought the Manchester City game would be the best indicator of where we are, but this seems more apt. In with a shout but nothing like the finished article.
There’s never a full stop on form, only on season ends.
We’re second in the league, still ahead of the main rivals and we could go top if we beat Arsenal. I tried to ram those words into my head, but all I could see was Andre Onana shanking the ball into the Main Stand like some sort of Vietnam flashback. How could we not beat that?
Ah well, time gives perspective. We’ve sat through some awful Liverpool sides in the past, so it’s harsh to pick on one with one not-really league defeat. We’re a good side. A great curry of flavour. We’re just a bit under-spiced at the moment.
I just can’t believe that side took a point off us. Their keeper played more passes to our ball-boys than his full-backs.
Work to be done, but a ton of time in which to do it.
Six whole days.