Full-time from Old Trafford and Liverpool have suffered another loss to their biggest rivals. The battle of the Premiership’s two most potent strikers was never really in doubt. Van Persie finished the game with a goal and an assist, while Suarez left with a pair of sore ears from the constant barrage of abuse he received from the Old Trafford faithful.
On a day when Liverpool felt they could finally prove they are ready to battle with the Premiership elite once again, they never really got going. The first half was a very one-sided affair and the ‘Pool were lucky to be going in at half-time just one goal behind (Robin Van Persie). Lucas was non-existent, Gerrard looked fatigued and Sterling barely got a mention. A change was needed.
Daniel Sturridge entered the fray to a chorus of boos from the Stretford End but displayed his confidence by nonchalantly striding onto the pitch without even looking up at the country’s most famous stand. Sturridge was to have his moment, but not before a Evra/Vidic goal put United 2-0 up. Like all good strikers, Sturridge anticipated a David De Gea parry and the ball kindly dropped to his feet inside the box. 2-1.
This was to be as good as it got for Liverpool on the day as the game finished with United the victors. Sturridge showed some excellent movement throughout his forty-five minutes, and even displayed a relationship with Luis Suarez that was reminiscent of the Gerrard of old. However, Sturridge also displayed the immaturity and arrogance of his Chelsea days when he snatched at chances and held onto the ball when maybe he should have passed. Twelve million is a heavy price tag to bear, but luckily the Kop are used to inflated transfer fees and will feel that Sturridge can repay the investment. Two goals in two games makes for good reading.
The biggest losers today were not Liverpool Football Club or their players, no. I feel it was the ever-optimistic Liverpool fans that have endured so much heartbreak in recent times. When Manchester United were tearing through the Liverpool midfield with ease during today’s first half, a four or five nil hammering would have had it’s benefits. It would have created outrage in the stands, causing the Liverpool board to reassess their situation and pump more money into a talented, yet inexperienced, Liverpool side. It was clear from today’s game that one or two more signings is needed for Liverpool to finally break back into the Top Six (Everton sixth?). However, Liverpool’s improved second-half performance could lead them to becoming agents of their own downfall, as the likes of John Henry, Tom Werner and Ian Ayre will leave Old Trafford with the false belief that the gap between Manchester United and Liverpool is not as vast as first thought. Perhaps they will feel, somewhat foolishly, that the acquisitions already made during January are enough to see them through the season. It is for this reason that I believe the Liverpool fans, among the greatest in world sports, will suffer the most as a result of today’s game. In truth, United took their foot off the pedal and were caught day-dreaming once they opened their two-goal lead. If this had been against the likes of Manchester City or Chelsea, you can be sure no such lapse would have occurred.
There is no doubting that the future finally looks bright for Liverpool. Players such as Raheem Sterling and Andre Wisdom are improving with every game. Alan Hansen once foolishly remarked that “You’ll never win anything with kids”. Unfortunately for Liverpool fans, Hansen’s comment is more apt when looking at this current crop of young talent. Liverpool fans deserve so much more than they have been getting for the last few seasons. Let’s hope the light is bright at the end of the famous Anfield tunnel.
SPORT IS EVERYTHING. Richard Barrett.
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