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Man Utd's open midfield allows Suarez to probe

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Alistair Magowan - BBC Sport | 00:37 UK time, Monday, 7 March 2011

There is an argument to be made that Liverpool's resounding victory over Manchester United on Sunday - a win that further complicated the Premier League title race - was made in the Netherlands.

Reds strikers Dirk Kuyt and Luis Suarez were the architects of the 3-1 win at Anfield - and both players came to England from the Dutch top flight, from Feyenoord and Ajax respectively.

Netherlands international Kuyt and Uruguayan Suarez are very different players but the way they combined at Anfield will give Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish hope for his own title plans next season.

Perhaps it is too soon to judge Suarez, who joined Liverpool in the January transfer window having scored 49 goals in 48 games for Ajax last season. However, his overall performance in the win over United showed that he is much more than just a goalscorer.

Luis Suarez was by far the most effective ball carrier on Sunday

The 24-year-old had a hand in all three Liverpool goals and was also the game's leading dribbler, carrying the ball nine times (in seven of those dribbles he went past an opponent).

Yet it was his ability to receive the ball in positions between the United midfield and defence that caused all sorts of problems for the visitors.

In this respect, Suarez was helped by the selection of United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, who picked Michael Carrick and Paul Scholes in the centre of midfield. While both players are good when they have the ball at their feet, they are not renowned for their ability to shield the defence from harm, a skill that team-mate Darren Fletcher possesses.

Given United were without first-choice central defenders Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic, Ferguson's decision to employ Scholes and Carrick alongside each other was a little puzzling, although there were suggestions that Fletcher was ill. Chris Smalling and Wes Brown are both capable defenders but this was only the eighth time they had played together in the same side, let alone as centre-back partners.

"I was surprised by Sir Alex Ferguson's team," says former Arsenal full-back and Match of the Day 2 pundit Lee Dixon. "Maybe Arsenal's goalless draw against Sunderland on Saturday had something to do with his selection but it looked as though he wanted to go for a win and named an attacking side to get it.

"Manchester United got overrun at times. I've never seen them so open. Let's not forget how well Liverpool played but I think United were instrumental in their own downfall. When you see two midfield players like Carrick and Scholes leave space for the opposition like that, it encourages the likes of Suarez to hunt for those gaps between the lines."

The Uruguyan did just that within the first two minutes, picking up a return pass from Raul Meireles only to miscue his shot when he looked like he would open the scoring.

But that missed chance did not affect him and Dixon says he went on to demonstrate his footballing intelligence by dribbling towards the inexperienced defence ahead of him.

"Suarez had a field day," Dixon explains. "He was picking the ball up behind Carrick and Scholes, playing little one-twos off team-mates and making runs down the wings. He had one of those games where everywhere he ran he seemed to be in space. That was down to his good runs but also because there was space to exploit.

"When you start running at defenders, you give them huge decisions to make. They have to work out whether to close the ball down or drop off, at the same time as monitoring who is running off the ball. On the other hand, if an attacker gets the ball and passes it, the decision is made for the defender.

"A lot of players don't run with the ball with their heads up but Suarez is an intelligent player. A forward like him running at you is the most dangerous because it's very difficult to know what will happen next."

Liverpool also had a willing runner in Kuyt, who pulled United's defence apart on more lateral lines.

Dirk Kuyt was willing to run into the channels to create space for team-mates

The 30-year-old has long been admired for his tireless dedication to the team's cause but he has been able to show off his footballing nous and goals since being asked to spearhead Liverpool's attack.

The Dutch forward's pass map shows that a lot of his support work and passing was done in wider areas, allowing the likes of Maxi, Meireles, Steven Gerrard and even Lucas to burst forward into the gaps he left behind.

Liverpool skipper Gerrard played quite a disciplined role for his team on Sunday and, coupled with another industrious performance by Lucas, showed United a glimpse of what they were missing.

There were other reasons for United's defeat, of course: another relatively quiet game for both Wayne Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov, plus the injury to Nani.

But it was the influence of Suarez that stood out for Dixon.

"The number of times he got the ball in that space behind Scholes and Carrick and was able to expand the play was one of the reasons he played so well and Liverpool created so many chances," he says.

With Andy Carroll coming off the bench to give Dalglish further options in attack, it was certainly a positive day for the red half of Liverpool.

In contrast, United fans might wonder how much Ferguson's decision to employ an attacking approach has damaged their title ambitions.

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  • Comment number 1.

    "United fans might wonder how much Ferguson's decision to employ an attacking approach has damaged their title ambitions."

    Couldn't agree more. We played a very open system against Chelsea as well, and we lost control of both games. United have spent the last few seasons perfecting a flexible 4-5-1 to be used against top opposition, particularly away from home. It allows us to contain teams and makes us very difficult to beat, attacking and defending as a team, never getting too stretched. Yet all that seemed to go out of the window in the last two games - the biggest away games of the season so far!

    Perhaps Fergie was seeing whether this group of players can cope going toe-to-toe in a 4-4-2 in the big games - well I think we all know the answer now.

    Don't want to take credit away from Liverpool though - they played well.

  • Comment number 2.

    I would argue that Utd missed an in-form Anderson, as well as Fletcher.

    I think Ferguson played 4-4-2 because he doesn't have the options, confirmed by Fletcher's reported illness that meant he had to be on the bench. When Nani got injured, it was a striker (Hernandez) who came on as well, and Rooney was asked to play wide.

    United need to sign a replacement for Hargreaves in the summer, as well as find those long-term replacements for Scholes and Giggs. Van der Sar has already confirmed his retirement, so in my opinion they need at least four top class (or world class) players to stay ahead of the opposition. I think eventually they will no longer be able to get away with their policy of milking another year out of the veterans. Their vulnerability away from home this season is further evidence of that.

  • Comment number 3.

    Ferguson is tactically stagnant (if indeed he is the main strategist). Watching Liverpool there were numerous players roaming in free roles. Suarez in particular was working on both flanks as well as through the middle. If Man Utd are to compete over the next few years as they have in the past, they will need to freshen up their coaching and management as well as their playing staff.

  • Comment number 4.

    I totally agree. Man Utd need to invest heavily in the summer. Chelsea and Liverpool spent heavily in January with no activity from Old Trafford. Utd require a goal keeper, and two midfielders one of whom must provide the consistant creative spark that is required.

  • Comment number 5.

    I think the way Liverpool were set up tactically surprised United yesterday. It appeared at first as if Gerrard would play off Suarez, with Kuyt in his usual wide right role. Instead, it was almost a 4-2-2-2 formation, with Meireles and Maxi tucked in behind the front two and they pulled out wide when United had the ball, to cut off supply to the full backs. It stopped United controlling the midfield and allowed Liverpool to play through United. Another thing of note since Dalglish has taken over is the amount of third man running that comes from the Liverpool midfield- it was usually Gerrard doing this, but both Lucas and Meireles have been doing this in recent weeks.

  • Comment number 6.

    I can't believe Van Der Sar dribbled the ball more effectively than Berbaflop.......oh well.

    Again we are witness to a garbage United midfield and with the Glazers sucking every last penny out of our club, the squad slowly weakens bit by bit.
    We are now forced to re sign the likes of Carrick, Anderson and Brown, whilst begging for Scholes and Van Der Sar to stay for 1 more year.

    P.S. Liverpool weren't much better.

  • Comment number 7.

    3. At 12:39pm on 07 Mar 2011, Chris wrote:
    Ferguson is tactically stagnant (if indeed he is the main strategist).

    Sorry, but thats rubbish. More coming from the angle of a personal pop at the man, I think. Let's be fair, Utd were without their first choice centre halves as well, which had an important influence on the result too. I'm less inclined to believe that Utd lost because of 'tactics' and more because of individual personnel and away form this season. As for 'competing' they didn't lose until last month are still top of the league so I think they have been 'competing'. But they need new players.

  • Comment number 8.

    liverpool where a better side better equipped for the game on that day

    a side is no longer about 15 players u need 23 good players now to win game after game u dont always have ur best 11 out and u have to adapt to who and what u have at the time to play

    u cant take that away from a great liverpool victory against utd vidic would have prob got sent off any way !!

    and rio is on his way with scoles n giggs

  • Comment number 9.

    As a neutral I was surprised by the 4-4-2, but Fletcher's form has been patchy as has Man Utd's away form in general. It's also true that they haven't won at either Anfield or Stamford Bridge for years playing 4-5-1 so not sure the formation is the whole story.

    Sometimes when you are missing your defence, going more positive is actually beneficial because it forces the opposition onto the back foot and gives less time for them to attack. The problem in the last two matches is that their players didn't keep the ball well enough under pressure and Liverpool's movement in particular caused all sorts of issues for Scholes legs playing two games in a week. The free kicks they had which were in prime positions were also shockingly bad.

  • Comment number 10.

    This isn't the first time this season when a 4-man midfield, that contains the ageing Scholesy and Giggsy (especially the former), has been part of our troubles away from home (see Fulham away). Scholesy is now too weak defensively to be picked in a two-man central midfield. Once Essien woke up in the second half, we were easily overrun in central midfield. Once you play at that tempo, a two-man central midfield, with ageing Scholesy in it, can not cope defensively.

    Well done to Pool for playing to that tempo and exploiting that big weakness United have in central midfield.

    'Ferguson is tactically stagnant'

    Idiot of the day goes to no.3. If anything, he is not stagnant enough, considering the numerous tactical changes he makes.

  • Comment number 11.

    Spot On!

    Even the best get it wrong at times and fergie yesterday got it all wrong.
    great performance from liverpool.

  • Comment number 12.

    the tactics were baffling, as was the line-up. fergie likes to try and keep liverpool at arms length, and yet yesterday seemed to just invite them onto his back four. very strange. to be fair, at 0-0 there was a spell of decent united possession that promised a controlled passage in keeping with many a united visit to anfield down the years. that pretty much went out of the window with the comedy lack of tackling on the first goal though.

    that said, people want to put some deeper meaning on this match, especially in terms of the title race. in truth united will just be glad to have got it out of the way and still be in pole position as the season moves to the run-in.

  • Comment number 13.

    Interesting points about Man Utd's formation but correct me if I am wrong, were some United not fans up in arms when Carlos Queiroz insisted on playing a lone striker?

    The point I am making is that formations are often not the root cause of any problems, it is more the players, although I always believed it was better to adapt your system to suit players rather than other way round.

    Anyway, you could argue that Liverpool also played a 4-4-2 with Kuyt and Suarez up front, and Maxi left with Meireles right, but you could also claim that it was more like a 4-2-3-1. For me, this shows that the difference between formations is often very small, but if players understand their roles and more importantly easily combine with others then the system does not matter so much.

    Liverpool were simply more fluid for many reasons. What do you think they were?

  • Comment number 14.

    @ no.6 'P.S. Liverpool weren't much better.'

    Did you actually watch the game??

    Fergie had 2 choices after losing Vidic; give extra cover to the defence from midfield, or try to play more attacking to take the pressure off them. By the sounds of it Fletcher's illness made his mind up for him and it didn't work out.

    Suarez's freee role behind Kuyt was the key to Liverpool's success. The United defence looked scared every time he got the ball and totally lost all composure, committing themselves to tackles and playing right into his hands and letting him dribble past them far too easily.

  • Comment number 15.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 16.

    'The point I am making is that formations are often not the root cause of any problems'

    4-4-2 is fine but you need the right personnel and Scholes-Carrick wasn't the ideal pairing. It may have worked if Pool hadn't set out with the tempo they did, which would've allowed Scholesy-Carrick to conjure up long spells of possession. But Pool's midfield didn't let them and the United duo crumbled, unsurprisingly.

    They worked to a certain extent in 06/07 because we had a fluid attacking movement to our side during that season but we simply haven't had that for the past four seasons (yes, i include 07/08), so our central midfield needs to be more gutsy going forwards to help better the attacking movement and the only central midfielder that has provided that this season has been Anderson. Scholesy (these days anyway) and Carrick are too passive, defensively and offensively. Fletch has been a mess as the box to box midfielder this season, he should be made to sit (which he does a good job at). We lack invention in central midfield, which has limited our attacking fluidity and a ideal central midfield dynamic which has hampered us defensively at times.

  • Comment number 17.

    With the impending closure of 606, I'm glad we'll see less of the Neanderthal behavior illustrated by the likes of Kewy on the 606 boards (although we may well have to put up with it on blogs). Amusing that he preaches about the lack of class displayed by others, when he clearly can't do it himself. How dense can you get.

  • Comment number 18.

    I don't think number 6 is actually a Man Utd fan, he's one of these wind-up merchants trying to be amusing. Even the most plastic Utd fan does not call Berbatov 'Berbaflop'.

    On the point about Liverpool and their performance- I think Suarez was just fantastic. He was a world class player having a world class match. You can talk about tactics all you like, but thats usually what wins football matches.

  • Comment number 19.

    What a weak tactical analysis yet again. Not one pundit has failed to state the KEY reason behind Liverpool's success yesterday - Meireles. I dont think he was picked up at any point during the time he was on the pitch - did United players not realise he was there??

    It was his runs from midfield, always in good areas, that created the space for others, as the defenders had to come out of position to pick him up.

    Scholes and Carrick have been shown to be completely inadequate now at the top level. Scholes WAS one of the best in the world, but it's time to follow Gary Neville now. Carrick had a period 2 years ago where he looked like he could be a key player for us, but that has evaporated desperately in mediocrity. His passing accuracy must be under 50%, and he isnt a great tackler, has no pace, and doesnt get goals either!! Time he was offloaded.

    Fletcher would have made a difference had he been fit, but he wasnt and - like Carrick, hasnt been at his best this season anyway.

    United need to address the midfield situation - get a proper defensive midfielder. Look at the successful teams of the last 15 yrs or so:
    Juventus - Deschamps/Davids/Conte
    Milan - Albertini/Gattuso
    Bayern - Effenberg/Van Bommel
    Madrid - Makelele
    Barca - Toure/Busquets
    Chelsea - Makelele/Essien
    United - Keane/Fletcher

    Some of those players werent the best players in terms of ability, but they did a job! United have no-one that does that at the minute (Fletcher would do that, if whoever is alongside him was adequate). I can't understand that when fit, Anderson isnt the first CM on the team sheet. Why Fergie can't see he's our best CM by far I don't know. The games he's played this season, he has been brilliant, and when he came on against Spurs and Blackpool he made us a different team. he's the future, and if Fletcher can regain some form, then he can be our holding player, but we defintiel need 2 more CM's ot cover for injuries, unless Fergie puts his faith in some of our young players, which he seems too reluctant to do.

  • Comment number 20.

    19. At 1:39pm on 07 Mar 2011, Nevs_A_Red wrote:
    What a weak tactical analysis yet again. Not one pundit has failed to state the KEY reason behind Liverpool's success yesterday - Meireles. I dont think he was picked up at any point during the time he was on the pitch - did United players not realise he was there??

    I think the decisive moments came from Suarez though.

    By the way, don't you mean Pirlo/Gattuso for Milan's partnership and Scholes/Keane for Utd's?

    Also Effenberg and Van Bommel never played together at Bayern. You possibly mean Schweinsteiger and Van Bommel.

  • Comment number 21.

    'By the way, don't you mean Pirlo/Gattuso for Milan's partnership and Scholes/Keane for Utd's?

    Also Effenberg and Van Bommel never played together at Bayern. You possibly mean Schweinsteiger and Van Bommel.'

    I think the poster in question meant certain defensive midfielders those sides have had over the years, so don't have to be players that have been at the club at the same time.

  • Comment number 22.

    ah you mean DMs only. Just re-read your post. Conte and Effenberg weren't DMs though. That's what confused me.

  • Comment number 23.

    I think a lot of times this season we have looked poor in attack and thats because fergie isnt sure how to play all 3 strikers and has always had issues with fitting strikers in with rooney constantly being shifted around i believe we should play with both rooney and berba up top and play nani just behind them with 3 CM more in a 4-3-1-2.

  • Comment number 24.

    #22 - correct on the point of what I meant. Conte and Effenberg did play in holding roles though for the most part - ie disciplined positionally just in front of the defence, unless tactics required otherwise on occasion. So my description was a little off. The main point was, compare them to Carrick and Scholes in terms of their ability in a DM role when asked to play there. No contest.

  • Comment number 25.

    Aye, Effenberg was more box to box, although he had a certain physical presence to say the least!

  • Comment number 26.

    #25 - I wouldnt say box to box - he did get forward at times, but he was more the playmaker - breaking up or dictating the play first, before getting forwards. His strength helped in that respect too.

  • Comment number 27.

    Ferguson made a poor choice in midfield yesterday. Carrick has not looked good for two years ago. It was not long ago that he looked like becoming a top quality player, but nowadays he looks average at best. His tackling is non-existant, he doesn't get into the box to convert chances, and his passing is poor. He used to be an outstanding passer of the ball so i don't know why he has suddenly lost it.

    Scholes should not have played. He's still a quality player, but only in short bursts. He's the sort of playing united should have on the bench to turn games around. He longer has the legs to keep up for a full game, espeically against the bigger teams. He's at his most potent now if united are dominating the game and looking for some inspiration to break a team down. This is where united went wrong yesterday.

    I keep seeing people say they had a weak defence, but Smalling and Brown are no mugs. There was not much they did wrong. I think even Ferdinand and Vidic would have struggled because of the lack of support from midfield. Carrick and Scholes just never dropped back because it's not in their nature, and the likes of Suarez and Meirelles were allowed to much time on the ball in front of the defence.

    Man Utd never looked too dangerous either which would be the worrying thing for them. They scored whilst Liverpool were cruising, and their only chances other than that were a shot out of nothing from Berbatov and a header after a bit of a scramble cleared off the line, but other than that rarely threatened. I would be worried by that if I were a united fan. Rooney has looked a bit of a liability, despite Barbatov's goals he's been the same in several games, and the only player who has looked any good, Nani, could be out for a little while. Where's the creativity going to come from?

    Yesterday Liverpool deserved credit because they were intelligant,Suarez ran United ragged while Kuyt gambled well to get in positions to take his goals, but they were helped by how poor United were

  • Comment number 28.

    Earlier on in his career, he'd get forward quite a lot but as time went by, he played more of a passive role, though he was never naturally a defensive-minded midfielder (even though he was able to put a pretty good shift in). I remember for Bayern in his second spell, he usually played with Jeremies who did most of the dirty work in central midfield with Scholl shifted out wide. A nutter but a quality player.

  • Comment number 29.

    "Interesting points about Man Utd's formation but correct me if I am wrong, were some United not fans up in arms when Carlos Queiroz insisted on playing a lone striker?"

    Phil, I think you're being a little bit black and white there. There's a time and a place to play certain formations. United fans were frustrated at United playing 4-5-1 in most of their games, despite their opposition.

    Recently, playing a 4-5-1 formation away from home in the big games have served Man Utd well and 4-4-2 this season has been productive at home. It's about being dynamic and setting up correctly for the game - and 4-4-2, especially with Carrick and Scholes in the centre, simply wasn't enough.

    With that said though - shouldn't most pairings of Manchester United's centre midfielder be enough to at least compete against the other top teams? In the last few years this simply hasn't been the case.

    The team also looks to the strikers (almost always Rooney) and wingers for the main creativity and seldom do they get it from a centre midfielder which is very worrying for a top club.

  • Comment number 30.

    agree on the tactics often not being the sole reason or even the biggest problem, and yesterday liverpool were sharper all over the pitch, their movement and interchange of positions making united look like strangers at the back, which of course they were. liverpool looked as if they had the edge physically and also psychologically. they have won the last two clashes at anfield, they had dalglish back in charge and they had convinced themselves that they owed united one; united had problems putting a team on the pitch and had all the recent ABU vitriol to contend with as well - by the looks of that first goal fergie had clearly told his players whatever you do don't even blow on these anywhere near our box. everyone wants to view this match in the context of the league title race. if that's the case then there's also the fact that liverpool had absolutely nothing to lose.

    the point about the 4-5-1 is that using it as the default formation in all big games is just too predictable, too negative, and has become very boring as a result. at chelsea i think fergie got it spot on, united played very well and were unfortunate to lose in many respects. yesterday he got it wrong, particularly by making voluntary changes to the back four as well as enforced ones and by failing to match up in the centre.

    the main point that is being lost amid the rabid feeding frenzy attacking united's midfield is that yesterday's game wasn't that much different to any other recent (last decade or more) united visit to anfield. we've lost there and played a bit better and won there and played a hell of a lot worse in that time. if fletcher was ill then i can understand why he might be left out obviously, and there is an argument that given who else was unavailable attack was (potentially) the best form of defence, hence rafael for o'shea). but that would bring me on to talking about the movement and general performance level of wayne rooney and i really can't be bothered to go there.

  • Comment number 31.

    @no 3

    Clearly Ferguson is not tactically stagnant nor should he be turfed out either, just looking at his record throughout his time at United (despite the fact that the game, style of play and even positions have changed vastly) shows that.
    I would not blame him for going for the win on this occasion either as with Arsenal dropping points, it would be a chance to extend the lead to 6 points, especially with arsenal and Chelsea still to play(and this way, the title is still in their hands).

  • Comment number 32.

    Ryan Giggs is an awful player. Yesterday to cap everything else off he even ran out of the middle of the wall for the ball to go through!!!

    Any other player with such consistently poor performances would be absolutely hammered by the press. Giggs has the papal infallibility.

  • Comment number 33.

    7. At 12:50pm on 07 Mar 2011, Vox Populi wrote:

    3. At 12:39pm on 07 Mar 2011, Chris wrote:
    Ferguson is tactically stagnant (if indeed he is the main strategist).

    Sorry, but thats rubbish. More coming from the angle of a personal pop at the man, I think. Let's be fair, Utd were without their first choice centre halves as well...........

    sorry but that is rubbish, given the fact that last year Arsenal was playing w a Gallas/Vermaelen partnership in central defence can we say that Arsenal are playing without their first choice centre halves thru the whole year?????

    yes, we can. see, its managable...

  • Comment number 34.

    erm Gallas was let go at the end of last season

    bemusing logic

  • Comment number 35.

    maybe an original point of view, but let me remind you that doesn't change the fact that Arsenal have a new central defensive partnership and they received not far too many more goals then MU.

    all-in-all, teams at this level should get used to playing long periods without the first choice central defensive partnership and MU is not prepared to handle this problem by far. that is the point.

    btw. Gallas went as he wanted a 2 years contract instead of the offered 1, which means he wasn't fired because of his lack of merit but directed elsewhere by his true financial reasons.:-))

  • Comment number 36.

    I haven't complained one bit about having players out injured/suspended as its par for the course. I simply found your use of Gallas (in your first choice defence point), when he doesn't even play for Arsenal anymore, simply laughable. Odd.

  • Comment number 37.

    At 32 Nibs.

    I cannot believe you can call Giggs a bad player, im sure that 99% of the football watching public would disagree with you.
    But i agree with your point about yesterday, he had a ridiculously bad game in terms of delivery with his crosses, free kicks and corners all being utter rubbish. This was strange because usually this is second nature to him. This didnt help united because they had a difficult time keeping the pressure on liverpool when their dangerous free kick positions in the second half were all wasted.

  • Comment number 38.

    I think I have to agree with a few other posts here that formations don't dictate the game, it's the players knowing or being able to play in the positions they're in. Look at the difference in Liverpool's midfield since Meireles has been moved off that wide right position that Roy was sticking him in. I think the big difference for Liverpool in general at the moment is that Kenny's playing people in the positions they actually play in (think he got lucky with Glen Johnson!!). I much prefer seeing Kuyt up front and don't know why he has been deployed as a wide man for so long (not just this season).

    I'm excited by the fact Kenny seems to be finally looking to sort out the positional issues that were plaguing the team previously. Liverpool fans have been crying out for a wide man for years now and I think Kenny might actually listen and make some decent signings in the summer.

    Man U were missing players that could comfortably fill in the roles required by Fergie's tactics but they didn't have the depth in the squad to do much else.

    The way Liverpool are currently playing is refreshing to watch and I think we'll be challenging again next season once we get some much needed depth added.

  • Comment number 39.

    The fact that United lost on Saturday was due to a simple mistake made by Fergie, however much of a genius he is, the choice to play Carrick in the centre rather than Fletcher for 85 minutes was wrong. Plain and simple.

    In a game that is reknowed for its battles in the centre, playing two players, one cant tackle (Scholes) and one who wont (Carrick) was a mistake.

    It allowed Liverpool to dominate possession and that, twinned with a woeful showing from Brown, allowed Liverpool to walk the ball into the net three times.

    This Liverpool team is not a world class team, it is a team just about on the same level as Bolton. But its a derby game and anything can happen so the decision to not play Fletcher would have infuriated Man Utd fans such as myself.

    What we should take from this game is a sense of optimism about our defense, with the exception of Brown and Evra (who had an uncharacteristicaly poor game), is very well set up for the future. Smalling has not looked out of place at all in the last two games and Rafael is coming along leaps and bounds.

    All United need is one quality central midfielder, then we should be back to being the top team with the young players we have coming through.

  • Comment number 40.

    A question for Liverpool fans, is Dalglish really doing anything different to what Hodgson was doing or is it just the case that Kenny is a Liverpool legend as both manager and player and his presence is just galvanising a top 7 team to outperform?

    By the way, Liverpool were very good yesterday. United seem to have gone off the boil.

  • Comment number 41.

    As a Gooner I was delighted to read the numerous comments about Man U's demise. Then I checked the league table and remembered that they are still top of the league, despite being apparantly useless/tactically inept!
    I can only hope that the predictions are true and Man U will fade into obscurity, but I somehow doubt that - they are normally in the top 2 richest clubs in the world, and do have a fair few improving young players (with resource to replace the oldies who are on their way out).

    Forgetting tactics, to me it is good to see that the top 2 teams in the Prem at the moment both have a fairly low net transfer spend over the last few years (although of course the 80m GBP sale of Ronaldo does skew Man U's figures somewhat).

  • Comment number 42.

    #40 not a Liverpool fan but have seen them play several times - what Dalglish has done different to Hodgson is that he seems to motivate the players more (whether the players refused to repsond to Hodgson is another matter) and he's more attacking. Hodgson by nature is a cautios manager, which is not suited to a top team, who should be taking the games to others. It works well at a smaller team, like Fulham and is why he should do well with West Brom. Dalglish has more attacking instinct, which is why Liverpool seem rejuvenated. Time will tell whether he can take them back to the summit.

    #39 agreed, Liverpool are not a world class team, but comparing them to Bolton seems very harsh and a negative view of a United fan. They may be going through a tough period but they still have several quality players, and just need to be able to perform like yesterday more consistantly. They tore through United yesterday in a way very few teams could do, even when they play to their best and United at the worst. This shows they still have sufficient quality. A few more additions and greater consitancy, and they'll be challenging again, probably not for the top, but at least for CL spot.

  • Comment number 43.

    Dalglish has made a massive difference (with Steve Clarke). He has got the team playing more short passes, with patient one and two touch moves and is clearly putting a lot more emphasis on movement. The team has cut out the long punts which Hodgson encouraged them to hit.

    Kuyt and Suarez never stopped yesterday and Meireles is in what used to be Gerrard's role - arriving in the box late from deep positions. There is also more position switching and pressing higher up the pitch.

  • Comment number 44.

    In answer to #40, the difference between Dalglish and Hodgson is massive.

    Hodgson was very rigid in his beliefs and his set-up and really couldn't see the woods for the trees when things weren't working. He was simply a fish out of water at Liverpool.

    Kenny motivates, send his players out to win, can change his hand at any given time, for example yesterday when Aurelio went off, the defensive line up changed but it didn't affect us over the course of the game.

    Also, Kenny GETS Liverpool and what they are about. He was the best player we have ever had, if circumstances had been different he would have been the best Manager we ever had (well maybe...that would be some shoes to fill)

  • Comment number 45.

    Losing two first choice Centre Backs against a top opposition will leave you vulnerable,no matter how many foramtions you put forward.United's two underweight CBs could never hold-up against highly skilled forwards like Suarez,intelligent Kuyt and Meireless;if Vidic were present I highly doubt if the first goal would have gone in.He would'nt have given Suarez that much room to manipulate the ball.
    As regards tactics,SAF is still the wiley old fox.That's how he keeps United ticking w/an aging squad consisting of Schole,Giggs and Van der Sar still starring in key positions.Unfortunately injuries to key personnel hurts you bad,as evidenced by Arsenal last year during the later part of the season.
    The top teams in PL have miniscule differences w/regards to talent;it is always the injuries to key personnel and the motivation of certain individuals on a given day that wins or loses the day.

  • Comment number 46.

    Sometimes one player is crucial to a team, just look at Robin Van Persie at Arsenal. Had fletcher been fit, I think SAF might have dropped Berbatov and gone for a 4-5-1. It was poor tactically to leave a big gap inbetween the defence and midfield and this was easily exploilted by the willing Kuyt and Suarez.

    Despite Liverpool being the much better team, had Berbatov's shot gone a few inches to the right, I doubt we'd be talking about a liverpool victory as United are so good at exploiting teams on the break.

    Sometimes in football you get lucky, but you make your own luck and that's exactly what liverpool did yesterday. The final tackle on Suarez by Wes Brown before the ball was squared to kuyt, could have gone anywhere. Had it been Vidic, I feel that ball would have gone out for a corner. Sometimes its a difference in quality that makes all the difference. Suarez could provide the foundations for a liverpool title challenge next season

  • Comment number 47.


    It could be argued that Liverpool were also without their two first choice centre backs (Agger and Carragher) after Aurelio went off injured. Dalglish has rotated Kyrgiakos and Skrtel (and given Wilson some experience). He reaped the reward yesterday as none of them looked short of match practice.

  • Comment number 48.

    The Premiership is unpredictable this year. Man Utd definitely need to spend big.

    Having said that, who cares?

    Football is becoming increasingly pathetic. The level of indiscipline from managers to players is nauseating and turning people off the game. It is increasingly difficult to admire a game in which many of the prima donnas are too inclined to cheat, fake injury and give disrespect to officials. Football bodies are pathetically unwilling to stamp out misbehaviour. Why do referees have to physically retreat and put up with snarling histrionics and foul language? Why? The FA could stamp it out in a couple of weeks. Yellow cards should mean a sin bin of 15 minutes. Dissent? The same. The authorities must be content to let things be. If it weren't for the other sports, Sky Sports would lose my subscription.

  • Comment number 49.

    interesting conclusion. maybe if it wasn't for your subscription sky sports wouldn't throw so much of your money at these prima donnas you profess to detest.

  • Comment number 50.

    I think what is evident as we have seen with Chelsea and Liverpool is that if you stop spending big money in the transfer windows eventually you are found wanting. United obviously don't have any money to spend due to their massive debts and now it's starting to show. Injuries to key players happen all the time but usually United and the other top teams have a quality back up option, but when you stop spending big money your options become limited. United are top of the league because their rivals are mostly in dissaray or in transition and because they have a very experienced manager who always wants to win at all costs. But unless United spend heavy in the Summer a more resurgent Liverpool, Chelsea, Man City, Arsenal and Spurs will ensure United struggle for a top 4 place. The problem I see though is with Fergies retirement imminent will the board really want to give him lots of money to spend?

  • Comment number 51.

    As a neutral it was obvious both ManU and Liverpool lack a few class players.. but there are good signs for the future in both the camps. Dalglish seems to have finally lifted pool from the gloom and Rooney has done a great favor to ManU with his threats earlier (I refuse to call them antics though I understand fans when they are angry with Rooney.. but when you are as talented as that guy and put in as much effort as he.. then it must be truly frustrating seeing himself surrounded by such relative mediocrity). Personally I would love to see(and both the teams are certainly missing) both the teams adding quality creative midfielders in their lineup.
    Hopefully all this will mean going forward EPL would have even better quality on show

  • Comment number 52.

    this is to all the manutd fans, for me i think our club is goin down. what happened to the tradition Roy Keane and the boys left behind.this is a disgrace to them. this whole season has been about lack. you saw what happened in the Carling cup against westham. what will happen if vidic is injured. we have players who are gettin new contracts at the expense of vidic, evra, rooney, fletcher and vanderser. we need new midfielders. fergie shud give scholes and giggs a break. these guys are already legends. mascherano is unsettled at barca, schwansteiger is not settled at beryern, what is fergie waitin for. the match against Chelsea was men vs boys. quit talkin about the referee, we do not have midfielders what do you expect. carick has never tackled anyone in his life as a footballer. is it the funds? whats happening to manutd.

  • Comment number 53.

    Bacon face is cracking up.

  • Comment number 54.

    Liverpool played so well. Best Ive seen the play all season. finally showing some verve in attack.

  • Comment number 55.

    Liverpool played well and United lost. But for me, it's simply because Liverpool played at home and United away. United will bounce back and win the title.

  • Comment number 56.

    Utd may well win the title and, with it, take the English league record.

    However, you have to wonder where subsequent titles will be coming from without a major injection of cash and it seems to the outside observer that the cash simply isn't there.

    Liverpool, on the other hand, are clearly on the way up. Their players have been revitalised under Dalglish, Suarez and Meireless are clearly additions of the highest quality, Carroll is going to cause defenders sleepless nights and there are funds available thanks to the clearance of the club's crippling debt.

    I hope Man Utd celebrate their record-breaking achievement if it does happen at the end of the season. Because I don't think they'll be holding the record for too long.

  • Comment number 57.

    Kuyt effectively played as a false nine

  • Comment number 58.

    #22 what are you talking about? Ignorance or what, Antonio Conte WAS a defensive midfielder i'm a bif fan of Juve and watched them for years when I was younger and Effenberg played there time to time although he was a more central midfielder box-to-box player

  • Comment number 59.

    *big fan

  • Comment number 60.

    SAF played the best team at his disposal in my view. Liverpool were just far more mobile and effective up front . The cries of SAF tactical nous is crazy in my view, the guy has won everything and not just on Champ Manager which i suspect is the case with most people who have a go at tactical decisions.

    I'm sure SAF will address the issue during the summer and sign midfielders who can allow the forwards and defenders to do their job properly.

  • Comment number 61.

    As you all should know, United are the BIGGEST club in the world, admittedly the squad is very average at the moment, and needs improving but two bad performances mean nothing, some of you are over reacting this is not the end of united. Fergie will re-invest this summer you'll see, and what is everyone's problem with Carrick he's a great player.

  • Comment number 62.

    25. At 1:55pm on 07 Mar 2011, 11_Giggsy_11_dont_save_606 wrote:

    Aye, Effenberg was more box to box, although he had a certain physical presence to say the least!

    That is correct, Effenberg was a CM with Hargreaves as DM but both had athleticism to break forward from defensive positions. Before that Bayern played 2 CMs in Effenberg and Jen Jeremies

  • Comment number 63.

    #32 "Ryan Giggs is an awful player"

    really???!!! do you follow football buddy?!

  • Comment number 64.


    If anything, football should have taught you that even the very near future is completely unpredictable. 3 months ago United were flying and Liverpool were in the doldrums. Now according to you that's reversed (though not the league position. hmm?).

    Regardless of what United do from now till the end of the season, there's no indication at all of what'll happen the next season or the season after that. Who's to say that United won't go out and reinforce their team in the summer. Or get sold to the Emir of Qatar and go on a Man City style spree. Or they could indeed decline. But you're merely speculating either way.

    Now about Sunday's game. I don't always defend SAF's selection but this time, I can't blame him at all. Pretty much the entire team selection was made up for him. People criticise the mobility of the midfield but United had both Fletcher and Anderson out (Hargreaves doesn't even worth getting mentioned any more), and the only midfield sub was Gibson who is probably the least mobile in United's team.

    With Valencia and Park out, the wing positions were secured by Giggs and Nani. With Vidic and Rio out, it was left to Smalling and Brown to man the defence. The only choice SAF had was to choose 2 strikers from Berba, Rooney and Hernandez.

    I'm not looking for excuses, Liverpool thoroughly deserved their win and the future indeed looks brighter for them. But people are reading too much into one derby game where United had hald the team missing. The saying in football is that the table never lies. United deserve to be where they are, and they're only a couple of transfers (a DM and a GK) away from assembling another brilliant squad. So don't be quick to make predictions about the future.

  • Comment number 65.

    ManU need to fill the DM role fast. Problem is the Hargreaves has been threatening to come back and it just hasn't worked out as yet. John OShea was tried out by fergie a couple of seasons ago, but didn't work out.
    Good tactic frm Dalglish to solve that prob was to play a 3Central defs for a few games. Worked well. It was basically a defensive screen to a the two centre backs. Maybe that could have been tried by fergie with Rooney getting a deeper role, playing just off the midfield. I guess though that in a big match like this taking chances is not the best thing and thus the team put out by fergie.
    Another question is with the attacking spirit of Rafael, would it be a good thing to try him as a RM than a wing back, a la Bale?

  • Comment number 66.

    Liverpool should have got atleast one or two more goals. I hope Liverpool need winning consistency.

  • Comment number 67.

    Our midfield balance is all wrong.

    We need a high quality proven attacking central midfielders that can, or if the money is not there, have the potential to, run games themselves.

    Paul Pogba is a fantastic prospect in the reserves, but this problem is immediate and urgent.

    Basically, we needed one of Sneijder (£12m Inter last year), Ozil (£12m Real this year) or van der Vaart (Tottenham this year, £7.5m). We were too slow to act in the transfer market, so in the summer we will have to spend big or fall further behind.

    Arsenal are best placed in the title race, particularly as they are imminently going to fall out of the Champions League, and will face us in the FA cup.

  • Comment number 68.

    A Limerick

    There once was a footballer called Ferdy

    Who had a manager called Fergie

    When Fergie wouldn't speak

    Then Ferdy would tweet

    Because Ferdy was Fergie's little birdie!

  • Comment number 69.

    Should he have parked the bus a little ... learn from the Italian's a little?

  • Comment number 70.

    Man Utd were awful end of. They desperately need to spend in the Summer and revive the squad for the next 5 years. Anderson, Carrick, Hargreaves, Evans, berbatov need to go. Some of them are half decent but would NEVER EVER make it into the 99 or 2008 team (possibly apart from Carrick who was half decent until last year!)

    Motihur Rahman

  • Comment number 71.

    Point is, does United have £100m to spend this summer? I'd be surprised if that happens, especially without some players having to be sold to make weight in the dealings. In any case, £100m doesn't buy much these days:

    They'll be looking at our lad, Reina, in the summer - £20m

    Modric - £40m

    Bale - £40m.

    There's the replacements for Giggs, Scholes and Van Dar Sar. However, United need much more than three shallow replacements - their depth is showing real signs of fragility due to lack of squad shuffling over the last few seasons. I reckon United need 5-6 players if they want to maintain their position at the top because Liverpool, Chelsea and City will be looking to invest this summer. Wenger may even splash a bit - they're not shy of a few bob and he needs a trophy one season very soon. Even Spurs like the odd £30m outlay from time to time. Can United compete financially, can they afford £100-£200m spend to get players of high quality? Is it going to happen without the Glazers looking to recuperate some of the outlay? Biggest asset? Rooney, worth on form £50m. Worth on this season's performances? £25m.

    At Liverpool, H&G were always trying to balance the books. I can't see the Glazers being any different. You may have £80m from the Ronaldo sale tucked away somewhere (in the Glazer's new yacht!), but the majority of that has been kept in case of emergencies. This is an emergency, so will United be spending big next year in the face of a long overdue transitional phase (with a new manager coming in very soon - don't be surprised if Fergie retires at the end onf this year or next)? Will they, like Liverpool, struggle to keep up with the top four? Time will tell but there's blacker clouds over United than has been for a long, long time.

    @#51. If anything, Liverpool have too many creative midfielders, all at various stages of their career! Stevie G has been one of the most creative midfielders in the English game for many years. He's starting to wind down his career but I see him reverting to the DM role one day, influencing the tempo of the games with his vast range of passing. Meireles is very creative, and showing it now Kenny's playing him in the right position. Joe Cole was a top creative player, as was Maxi. We may even have Aquilani back one day, and he isn't shy when it comes to creative output! If anything we need a top class LB and some wingers to get service into the box. A DM better than Poulson is the only change we should be making in this position, and I think we're lining up Yann M'Vila from Rennes. All the same, our CM is just fine, ta!

  • Comment number 72.

    9. At 1:02pm on 07 Mar 2011, RoyaltyinTheChampionship wrote:

    Well said. SAF probably didn't trust the defense and tried to use attacking pressure to release the pressure of the defensive unit.

    The problem of using Carrick and Scholes together is the speed disadvantage. Liverpool kept on running and passing the ball and those 2 were not able to support the defense due to lack of speed. Fletcher might have helped, but he is not known for good defensive movement either.

  • Comment number 73.

    45. At 4:59pm on 07 Mar 2011, atrig wrote:

    2 points I don't agree with:

    1) CB issues. The goals were not purely due to defensive mistakes. It's more like the lack of midfield support defensively that caused those goals. For the 1st goal, Suarez could have caused problems to any defensive players with such run. For the 2nd, it was purely Nani's mistake. For the 3rd goal though, I didn't know why Brown would commit that foul.

    2) Scholes/Giggs/VDS inclusion. If SAF had the choice, I don't think he would start them in any games. But looking at the new breed, who in the team can perform consistently to replace these legendary players?

    Injury is part of the game. All those could've and should've means nothing.

  • Comment number 74.

    I do not agree that Fletcher being sick gave no option to partner Carrick with Scholes in the mid field. There were other options especially after SAF saw how was Scholes strrugling against Chelsea as well as several past matches this seasonal.

    The first option was to play Gibson, Fabio or Podga any other player regardless lack of experience but would still could have done far much better than what we saw from Scholes.

    The second option given the fact that we missed our dependable Central Deffenders the best option would have been to play Oshea and Carrick in the mid field this option could have made our mid field tight and competitive and the defence more solid.

    SAF seam not to realise that the weakest MANU team is that which partners Scholes, Giggs, Berbatov in the pitch; now Rooney inclusive. If you want to play Scholes and Giggs then Berbatov should remain in the bench or both Scholes and Berbatov should be on the bench.

  • Comment number 75.

    1. first choice central defensive pair injured/banned
    No matter how good/ experienced brown is, he hasnt played in the middle for a very long time and probably hardly played with the young smalling, who did ok, but when you have Suarez, who is world class, attacking you all over the shop, it was always going to be difficult.

    2. Fletchers illness/ Energy on the park
    We didnt have a box to box midfielder, scholes and carrick together was always going to be a problem. Anderson? If fit shouldve played, 100%. No one realises that for these games, where you know the opposition is going to run themselves ragged, you have to match them, with Fletcher out and Park out, and Anders out, we lacked that energy on the ground.

    These were two major factors that didnt help matters much, but lest we forget that aside from the wonder-assist by Suarez, and lets face it he shouldve been tackled at some point, United gifted two goals away, Nani headed directly to Kuyt, VDS dropped the ball, and no one covered Kuyt.

    This doesnt mean that United are suddenly crap all over the park. Yes we need to buy a central midfielder/ playmaker/ box to box player, or promote from within, but this is hardly a crisis. True United Fans will be hurt by defeat to pool, but one look at the table and you will understand that we are still top, still have to play Arsenal and still looking strong. Stamford Bridge and Anfield are two places where it isnt wholly surprising to come away from with nothing. So whats the big deal. Park, valencia, Ferdi all coming back soon so that will help ALOT.

    Biggest prob for me, personally, is Rooney, wonder goals aside, he doesnt link up play very well, his first touch is still poor most of the time. We have to start with Berba and chicha up front. They have almost 30 goals between them this season, start them together. Rooney off the bench, till he starts gatting his act together.

  • Comment number 76.

    Syyeung, Giggs and Scholes at the moment are just a myth of players they used to be. Insead of plating them play any other players they will give good contribution to the team.

    We have already lost two back to back matches with Giggs and Scholes in the pitch, come next match let SAF play Gibson or Oshea in instead of Scholes and Fabio/Obarten/Bebe etc instead of Giggs and Hernandez instead of Berbatov the performance will be completly different. The experience af Giggs and Scholes have already been diluted with age, wear and tear over the number of years they performed at top level. They are now a spent force and can't win us competitive games on their own as the case was in the past. They are our old stars we now need new stars. SAF need not go further talking about transfers at present moment and time when we are in the mid of the season we have capable lads let them get more and more involved in the remaining games.

    The team need good ball winners not ball passers who can't win a single ball in the middle of the pitch.

  • Comment number 77.

    Your analysis is too simplistic as you only consider the phase of play immediately before the first two goals. Rewind further and you see that for the first the United defence didn't clear the corner and failed to win the second balls.

    For the second a cross from the right was blocked and cleared poorly. Suarez gained possession and crossed to put the United defence under pressure again. Rafael as the defender should have called for the ball and cleared it (he was facing the right way) whereas Nani had little chance of clearing from the position he was in.

  • Comment number 78.

    76. At 06:30am on 08 Mar 2011, almas wrote:

    That's exactly the problem I was trying to point out. Do you serious think that Fabio/Oberten/Bebe could achieve anything close to what Giggs/Scholes have done? In my opinion, Giggs and Scholes remain useful players off the bench. They are made starters now because the new breed is simply too far from being good enough as Man Utd players.

  • Comment number 79.

    77. At 06:30am on 08 Mar 2011, Robwiz wrote:

    For the 1st goal, it was Berba's "clearance" that created the problems defensively. Why did he kick across the pitch instead of putting it out to touch?

    Liverpool was very smart in keeping the pressure on the weak Man Utd backline. I won't put all the blame on the defensive unit. There were so many Liverpool player in attacking position, with 3 players trying to get to the loose ball. Man Utd was totally outnumbered. That was the main problem.

  • Comment number 80.

    I don't think it's just the formation that was the problem, United players seemed to be off their game since half time at Chelsea. It's like a switch has flicked and the passes are not going where they should, and they are not getting stuck in and harrying the way the used to. I disagree the back line was weak. I think Nani tried to head the ball the other way, but Van der Sar could have should have come for it.
    I think Fergusons weak point in his 20+ years, is underestimating the opposition when he plays not his Strongest possible 11. The defeat to West Ham might have caused him to think Liverpool were soft. He will have to used different tactics now against Chelsea and Arsenal. There are not too many games left, it remains to be seen if this team can hang on.

  • Comment number 81.

    Plenty are saying United should be signing a goalkeeper and 2 midfielders as a minimum but in that case who would you sign??

  • Comment number 82.

    personally we need to get rid of the dead wood that is Brown, Hargreaves, Carrick and Obertan. Along with replacing VDS, Scholes and Giggs. Up top we should be ok as wellbeck looks a talent for next season along with hernandez to help out rooney and berba. It seems the rest of the positions need to be thought about maybe ok for right wing Nani/valencia. and centre defence not bad although how long will ferdinand keep playing especially as he is becoming more injury prone.

  • Comment number 83.

    With all the people saying Fergie is the problem need to get real. People complain when he plays 4-5-1 set up for the counter and then complain when he plays a standard 4-4-2.

    The problem at the moment is neither system will work because he does not have adequate wingers, there's only Nani. Giggs can play on the wing and some of his performances have defied his age, but he cant play every game, especially not such high intensity games after injury. Park's timing of injury was very bad luck, but him and Valencia will be back soon which will be a boost (although I think may be long time yet till Valencia will be anywhere near level he was before long term injury).

    Central midfield is the biggest worry, and Ferguson has to rely on playing unbelievably poor players like Carrick and Gibson. Fletcher has also gone backwards. Scholes like Giggs cannot be expected to play all the time. And Anderson i'm still unsure of, he had a very good couple months where he finally looked like stepping up, but then started to decline again and then got injured.
    United need a true defensive midfielder, who can go box-to-box if needed, which they had signed in Hargreaves but we all know what happened there. They also need a central playmaker (I believe Cleverley given matches can be the man for that), and lastly a genuine left winger.

  • Comment number 84.

    There is so much rubbish being spouted about Suarez it is ridiculous.
    Last week against West Ham , Liverpool were beaten badly . Suarez was made to look very average and Demba ba was much the better striker and he has good feet and he is good in the air.
    The reason that Liverpool won against Man utd was because of their supremacy in midfield however last week Parker and Hitzelsperger completely dominated them.

    If Carroll is worth 35 mill and Suarez over 20 million then Ba is worth much more.

    The media seem to miss out the fact that Liverpool have probably paid 35 million more than they should have done for their striking pair.

  • Comment number 85.

    83 no, the point is not that he plays one system or the other, but in which games he plays them. at chelsea it should be closer to a 4-4-2 with one dropping back in when we're under pressure. and as it showed, united were very unlucky not to come away with at least a point last tuesday. only favourable interpretation of the advantage rule for the home side eventually led to united being over-powered. at liverpool fergie generally aims to keep the home side as far away from the goal as possible by crowding their midfielders. in the past he has pushed his defence right up to achieve this, but for the past 3 seasons now he has tried to do it using 2 or even 3 recognised strikers in his starting line-up and it hasn't worked. united had a good spell of possession in the first half but ultimately only really threatened from berbatov's shot against the post. in the second half united were much better, with 3 or 4 serious goal threats, fewer errors under pressure and far less threat of conceding (other than the spell just after the soft 3rd goal). this was largely down to the change in formation.

    Carrick certainly is not an "unbelievably poor" player, as both his record at united and the fact a manager like fergie continues to play him more often than not, should indicate to you. I fully agree with the general point about limited wide options though.

  • Comment number 86.

    I just wonder how strange it is with 2 of 4 wingers injured, 1 over the hill, that United are still on top of the league. I understand the next couple of weeks could change that drastically, but even with people like Valencia to come back in, he isn't match fit and it's expecting a lot to have two guys back from injury make an impression. Giggs and scholes are impact subs in my opinion. I do believe Fletcher and O Shea are far better than a lot of people are saying, but Carrick Evans Gibson can all go as far as I am concerned. .. Obertan has the right attitude when he is on the pitch which is something someone like Carrick doesn't show. Perhaps it's time to call back all the loanees and go with the kids again.

  • Comment number 87.

    Nevs_A_Red very good post. A rare thing here finding someone that actually understands what they are watching on the screen.

  • Comment number 88.

    I would have mixed feelings about United signing top class central midfielders. There is a real buzz around the youngsters Morrison, Pogba, Tunnicliffe and Cleverley. I hope they can step up in that area.

  • Comment number 89.


    and yet Carrick has often been asked to operate as a DM, or as good as, and United have a superb defensive record in all comps and are top scorers as well in the league. still, it's the first time I've ever seen him compared with Effenburg.

    Anyway, presumably United will make a decision on Hargreaves this summer and Carrick will start to get a bit more freedom again, just as he had in his first 3 seasons at United, which all went pretty well.

  • Comment number 90.

    Giggs and Scholes at the moment are just a myth of players they used to be.


    I think this is the point. SAF thinks that experience is the most important thing in games like these, and on the way to the match my old fella pointed out that Giggs and Scholes were definites as SAF doesn't trust the younger players in these games.
    Maybe if SAF picked his teams on form rather than reputation when he plays against Liverpool/Arsenal/Chelsea and in europe, there would be fewer results like Sundays.
    I often think that United have a great squad, Fergie just seems to get his priorities wrong when picking his teams sometimes.
    As a Liverpool fan, I was much happier seeing Scholes in the team than Fletcher, enough said.

  • Comment number 91.

    hi great game on sunday,to all fans of what clubs they support,i can tell you who youll all need to be successful and that is KENNETH MATHEISON DALGLISH,the only problem there is that he only wants success for LIVERPOOL FOOTBALL CLUB

  • Comment number 92.

    United need to get rid of these midfielders that have been poor for United this season in the summer and replace them with world class midfielders. All these rumours that SAF got £100m in the summer to spend better be true.

  • Comment number 93.

    United is going through a period of renovation. After Beckham, Keane, Scholes and Giggs, they have struggled to find a new quartet. Ferguson has even switched his classic 442 for a 433.
    Evans, Vidic, Evra, Nani and Rooney are the only ManU-worth players with future in the starting eleven. A new keeper is needed, the da Silva brothers are not good enough, and Carrick and Fletcher are just backup players. The 60 million ManU spent on Anderson and Berbatov would be enough to buy 3 or 4 players that could instantly jump into the starting eleven.

  • Comment number 94.

    Would be very interested to see Suarez's touch map (think that's what it is called, the thing which shows where on the field all his touches have been) for this game. Especially if you overlaid it onto a map of the field which showed the average position for the united players.

  • Comment number 95.

    #83, "And Anderson i'm still unsure of, he had a very good couple months where he finally looked like stepping up, but then started to decline again and then got injured."

    Anderson never recovered after the knee injury. He said so himself when with Brazil when they played France recently. His knee was swelling up after every match, so he couldn't play 2 in a row; that's why SAF was rotating Anderson even after some memorable performances from him.

    He is turning into a very injury-prone player, sadly.

  • Comment number 96.

    Man U is slowly but surely gettin overaged mo in the same boat with Chelsea if u ask me...
    Anyway Liverpool did absolutely super and to beat 4/5 guys,even duds(Man U doesnt hev many of thoz),tex a lot of skill and generally Liverpool played awesome and would hev won with evry Man U pleya in thur

  • Comment number 97.

    Sori I ment to beat 4 or 5 guys like Suarez tex a lot


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