Online nowadays it seems people’s opinions are extremely biased and often overlooking coaching focus as a result of a loyalty to clubs in relation to the Liverpool versus Manchester United fixture. Following Liverpool 3-1 Manchester United yesterday once again supporters posted in great numbers to abuse their rivals without much sign of genuine football talk. For those reasons Keepitonthedeck.com has decided to give a neutral opinion on both clubs approach in the game which will include player ratings with a completely unbiased view.
Manchester United What is Going on?
For over 13 years now the admin of Keepitonthedeck.com has been clipping matches, individual player clips of random football games. In all that time it is hard to think of a match in which a club was so wasteful in possession when attempting to play from the back, or as was the case for much of yesterdays game ‘not attempting to play out from the back’. If Keepitonthedeck.com can obtain copyright permission it will upload a video later this week showing over five minutes of atrocious wastefulness in possession from all three of the centre backs who started for Manchester United yesterday. The following is of course a slightly exaggerated comment to make but it almost appeared as though Liverpools goalkeeper was more comfortable with the ball at his feet under pressure than any of the United centre backs during yesterdays game. When you look at people who have played in the centre back role for Manchester United lately you think about players like Lindelof, Smalling, Jones, Bailly, Rojo, Darmian, it is the opinion of this admin that non of those players are good enough technically to play effectively from the back under the kind of high press Liverpool will often approach games with. In the modern game, dominating football matches is very much about the ability to establish control of the game from back to front. Manchester United simply don’t have enough quality on the ball in centre back areas. Bailly is a top class athlete but leaves much to be desired in terms of his ability with the ball, players like Jones, Smalling, Rojo, Lindelof are all what is known as “stoppers”, players who will get in the way of things but players lacking technical quality with the ball at their feet. In Darmians case, the man is simply not a centre back!
Lack of Overloads & Quality
The sheer volume of stick Paul Pogba gets is outrageous online. Perhaps Pogba is an example best used to describe a flaw that needs addressing at United. Have you ever played in a side which bypass midfield with long balls or played in a side with defenders who struggle to find feet or carry the ball into midfield areas which creates overloads and space? That’s what it must feel like in the big games for Paul Pogba. There is no question Pogba is a gifted footballer, but with little service who wouldn’t look average?. Watching the Liverpool versus Manchester United game yesterday you had to feel sorry for United midfield, they worked hard but in terms of possession, what hope had they got with the horrendous distribution from behind them. In summary, United badly need players with the ability to retain the ball and begin build up from the back. Too often Matic is dropping into areas due to a sheer lack of ability from centre halfs to carry the ball or distribute it between lines.
Based on yesterday alone. United started very slowly, a lack of belief and quality on the ball completely gave Liverpool control of the game for the opening 32 minutes. When United scored that belief grew and some composure came into the side, that period of fifteen minutes before halftime proved United have got players in areas capable of playing good football if the belief and instruction is there to do so. By halftime the manager had brought on Fellaini which completely ruined any momentum United had build in the final fifteen minutes of the half. It was back to the approach of being physical and basic rather than trusting in ability and quality.
Some pundits claimed Liverpool were far from their best yesterday? What game were they watching?. The opening thirty minutes at Anfield yesterday was a masterclass in composure, belief and ability. Liverpool simply outplayed a hesitant United and this game should have been over long before the break. A poor reaction to conceding perhaps the one worry for Liverpool as they fell apart for fifteen minutes before the break, in that spell when United had equalised we witnessed Liverpool players shy away from the game, that reaction leaves a little question mark about the characters who started within the side yesterday, how will they deal with falling behind early in big games in the future? With that said halftime brought about an opportunity to compose themselves and once again assume control of the game following the break. It was only a matter of time before goals arrived!
United desperately need defenders with ability on the ball. Defending should be the easy part for defenders, the top teams who look to dominate and control games have defenders with both defensive and technical qualities. Jose Mourinho is not a man who values technique before physicality, ultimately United will continue to fall miles behind Manchester City, Tottenham, Liverpool and now Chelsea until they close a massive gulf in technical ability and approach. For Liverpool, this is a side who will push City closely. Ultimately the question will be how they fair on the injury front. They can’t match the depth of quality City possess and that may well prove the difference come May.
Manchester United Player Ratings
De Gea (6/10): Made a few decent saves on the day. Struggled with the ball at his feet in play.
Diogo Dalot (4/10): Looks to be struggling for fitness. Off by halftime as he struggled to cope with the speed of the game.
Ashley Young (5/10): At least he showed some character and fight. Not a left back or left wing back, his positional sense defensively is simply not good enough and it cost United on the first goal.
Victor Lindelof (4/10): Horrendous in possession, shyed away from the ball and game. Easily tell he is lacking match sharpness.
Eric Bailly (4/10): A great athlete but not a great footballer and it showed in the big game. Not good enough on ball! Does the basic defensive things but who doesn’t?
Ander Herrera (4/10): Tried very hard but lacks the technical ability to control games from central midfield. Needs a technical player alongside him if he plays.
Jesse Lingard (2/10): Scored a goal and that was him happy. Showed no fight and zero ability on the ball. Gave it away countless times. Decision making in possession was awful. He opened a new clothes shop this week though!
Nemanja Matic (3/10): Spent most the game dropping between or alongside centre halfs out of sheer frustration about the lack of technical ability behind him to build play.
Romelu Lukaku (2/10): Got bullied, showed little fight. Was thrown about by Lovern and Van Dijk who completely dominated him all game.
Marcus Rashford 5/10: Good attitude, showed some fight. Best of a bad outfield bunch on display.
Matteo Darmian 4/10: Soft, didn’t show anything with the ball. Done the basics ok.
Marouane Fellaini 2/10: Won some headers and put his body into a few tackles, that’s all you’ll ever get from him. Technically out of his depth.
Liverpool Player Ratings
Gifted United hope with his first punished mistake at Anfield. Distribution was excellent on the day. Showed good character.
Nathaniel Clyne (7/10)
Very good, solid defensively all game and composed in possession.
Dejan Lovren (7/10)
Bullied Lukaku and was good with the ball at his feet. A leader!
Virgil van Dijk (7/10)
Another leader, dominant and very good in possession.
Andy Robertson (6/10)
Set pieces were horrendous, lots of energy but not his usual self going forward.
Georginio Wijnaldum (6/10)
Kept things simple and tidy.
Destructive and creative. Should have been given man of the match, robbed of that!
Naby Keïta (5/10)
His decision making in possession wasn’t great. Got tired second half.
Mohamed Salah (6/10)
Worked very hard and brought players into play well.
Roberto Firmino (7/10)
Aggressive, creative, tireless. A team player!
Sadio Mané (8/10)
A nightmare to mark, caused all sorts of problems with his direct approach and pace. Second best player on the pitch on the day.
Xherdan Shaqiri (8/10)
Game was crying out for him with his ability to hit the ball from range. Brought the energy and composure in and around the box that Liverpool had needed.