Neil Atkinson’s post-match review for The Anfield Wrap after Manchester United 4 Liverpool 3 in the FA Cup quarter final at Old Trafford…


LIVERPOOL get what they deserve.

I think this is important. No hard-luck stories here. For the first time this season Liverpool need to have a good, long think.

One hard-luck story – it is the end of a long run. It has been hard and arduous and it has taken it out of them. One hard-luck story. Being blunt is a teeny bit understandable.

But none others allowed. Not having it.

Liverpool start poorly, United tire and then Liverpool are 1-2 and actually sort of worth it. By 55 they are definitely worth it. By 65 it should be 1-3, but Liverpool only have themselves to blame. They only have themselves to blame.

The game was weird – Manchester United away should be a matter of everything and it will be on April 7th. Manchester United themselves are weird, a side without a shape, a side who appear to only be able to attack or defend, but never really do both in one movement. You go from facing up six of them to facing up none of them and carrying it without having to be particularly good.

Then you end up able to have a shot. The keeper is good, but shots are shots. Then you start again.

Liverpool end up the game’s dominant force, but do nowhere near enough with it. If I felt they had the nous I would wonder if Manchester United were rope-a-doping Liverpool, but they are themselves dopes.

The game should have been killed. It just should have been. Liverpool under Klopp have rarely made it easy for themselves and it felt like that, the idea we’d have to show graft and character rather than just ease away.

When the camera cuts to the manager he has the good grace to look as vexed as I am by the decisions being made by his side second half. The game is there to be killed and Liverpool instead resuscitate the thing through their own slack behaviour.

I respect Manchester United, seemingly more than Manchester United have managed to respect themselves recently, and Old Trafford gets to be a thing. They can keep an inferior side in it the way Anfield has managed down the years. Get through a series of fives and stay in touch and just see. It’s a way to play football, a way to live.

But that’s why you kill the game. Put them to bed. Make them fractious with one another.

All the subs felt late and Darwin Nunez and Luis Diaz’s races looked run from about 80. But the manager thinks they are about to win it.

In the end they lose it. Liverpool are daft again and again, daft for the first equaliser, daft for the second. For the winner they are beyond daft. Why don’t they have one more man back? Why don’t they just end the attack? It’s a great finish from Amad, Conor Bradley actually does alright, but watching it unfold was like watching Sideshow Bob with the rakes.

No one does a quadruple and days like today are why. It isn’t a reason to fall out of love with these lads of ours, not a reason to doubt they can’t go on and deliver the league title we all crave, but is instead a timely reminder they are a work in progress.

The game was the least important remaining, however much of an emotional maelstrom it became. The game was merely a warm up for April 7th, no matter what it means to them. The game gets to be a video, an improvement, a reason for growth.

Because it was there to be won and in all the dominating Liverpool forgot the winning. How unlike them.

They can have this one, however it feels going to bed tonight, but no more. We’ve bigger fish to fry so we need to make our nets bigger, but the gaps in the netting smaller. Tonight a fish squirmed away from our grasp. Not again.

International break comes at a good time. Recharge, reconvene and remember what we are.

Liverpool get what they deserve. It happens. But it can’t happen again.

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