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Oh How It Hurts to lose there…..

Oh how it hurts to lose to one of the teams that we absolutely hate losing to; Liverpool. How the faces got gloomy and sullen after a defeat like that. The emotions felt at this point of time would be one of heartbreak and disappointment after a late winner by Liverpool in a game that was in most parts dominated by Manchester United. The Scousers would feel that justice had been done as Patrice Evra let Dirk Kuyt in to volley home the winner but we dominated large parts of the match which is scant consolation at the end of it all because we have been knocked out of another cup competition this season and that to at the hands of our rival.

The luck of the draw wasn’t kind on us in the first place having placed us against Manchester City away in the 3rd round and then Liverpool away in the fourth round. We might have won the FA Cup more than any other club in the country but we have not won it yet since 2004 and we have not won it at its traditional home, Wembley Stadium since the 2-0 defeat of Newcastle United in 1999. Having lost it in the final in 2005 and 2007 and the semi-finals of 2009 and 2011, the romantics and the traditionalists among United fans had hoped that we could win it again this season but we got to wait now for one more season at least.

With regards to the game that unfolded at Anfield, it was a treat to watch if you were a neutral with the end to end attacking of both sides but United dominated the game for large parts of it and were very impressive in the way we fought back from going one goal down, regained composure and played Liverpool off the park to get the equalising goal. The performance we saw was way better than any of the recent United performances we have seen at Anfield. When the line-ups were revealed, there was a lot of apprehension on how we would fare in a cauldron of an atmosphere that greeted United at kick-off. There would also be some fear among the United faithful but we kept our faith as we believed in the players Sir Alex had chosen and for large parts, they did very well.  I had hoped that we could repeat what we did in 2002 when an injury-depleted United side beat Liverpool to end a long winless run against them.

One of those that did exceptionally well was Paul Scholes who gave a masterclass in keeping possession and it was no coincidence that the control of the game was loosen when he was brought off. I wouldn’t blame Sir Alex on replacing Scholes because surely at his age and having just returned to competitive football, that was all the veteran had in his legs. If he had played longer, he might just get over-run by the fresher legs Liverpool had introduced. Besides Scholes, Chris Smalling, Jonny Evans and Rafael Da Silva had commendable performances. Michael Carrick kept the ball very well for most part but without the benefit of an extra pair of midfield legs with him to keep possession, he couldn’t exert more control onto the midfield. Antonio Valencia was certainly marked out as a threat and as such was double marked at times but he still did his best to cause Liverpool problems but at times didn’t receive enough support on the flank from Rafael or others. Park Ji Sung was always a threat when playing off Danny Welbeck in somewhat of a roaming free role and rose to the occasion once again in a big game to get us our equaliser.

Ryan Giggs was decent enough with his passing but didn’t do much when he was left to do the running and pulling of the strings in the middle of the park. He could hardly get the better of the younger Martin Kelly on the left wing and I can only remember once did he manage to deliver a good delivery from the left wing. Patrice Evra wasn’t his usual self too on the overlap and posed very little threat as an overlapping left back. Maybe it was part of the instructions from the manager to limit his overlapping runs. Defensively too he has been a little suspect this season and was caught out by the long ball that led to Kuyt’s goal. Personally, I feel he is a leader and a great personality to have in the squad but I don’t think he is good enough as the captain of the team in the absence of Nemanja Vidic. Welbeck faced a defence that dropped deep and as such he hardly had much space to run into behind defences but certainly something it is something the young Englishman got to work on now; dealing with deep defences. Finally, David De Gea who would surely get a lot of flak again from the press and some United fans for another shaky performance. For large parts he had little to do but was at fault in conceding the opening goal. He nearly gave the ball away to Stewart Downing and nearly made a hash out of collecting a cross under pressure from Andy Carroll. The best thing he did was saving Steven Gerrard’s free kick. It doesn’t do his chances much good of claiming a first team spot with a performance as shaky as that. Granted that he is young and still learning but at a big club like Manchester United, there is not much scope for errors or to be patient for too long. (Just look to Ben Foster’s Man United career!).

For large parts, United replicated its performance from last week against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium but the injuries inflicted on us that day took its toll as Phil Jones, Wayne Rooney and Nani failed to recover in time. We have had a lot of injuries this season and the situation has shown no signs of abating and it is unfortunate but the fact is the squad isn’t as strong as it is expected to be. We are out of the Champions League in the group stage, got knocked out at home embarrassingly against Crystal Palace in the Carling Cup and now we are out of the FA Cup too. All we got to play for are the Europa League and the Premier League and with our seemingly never-ending injury situation, it is perhaps better to play lesser matches for the remainder of the season which would also paper over our lack of squad strength in depth. But do we really want our inadequacies to be papered over?

Who do we have to come back into the squad? In defence we had Rio Ferdinand on the bench which obviously meant that he wasn’t fully fit and realistically, he is not expected to play every game considering his fitness problems. Jones is expected back and he brings versatility into the team but his form has gone off the boil recently. In midfield, we are waiting for the dynamic and energetic duo of Anderson and Tom Cleverley, who served us so well in the early part of the season to return. Ashley Young, whose form has also gone off the boil before his injury, is also expected back on the wings as is the very much in-form Nani and in attack we got Rooney and Michael Owen to come back in. On the surface of it, it looks like we have good strength to come back in and bolster the squad but how long do we have to wait for them to return? How long more do we have to rely on the old heads like Giggs and Scholes to turn back the clock and perform for us? At the moment, I am afraid of our chances to overhaul Manchester City and win the Premier League and/or win our first ever Europa League. It doesn’t look promising until our injury situation clears up at least.

Can United forget this defeat and bounce back?

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No Responses to “Oh How It Hurts to lose there…..”

  1. kevin foy says:

    A fair take on the day ..good article Its about the game ..Nice to see you too supporting your team and players through good and bad ..As a big Liverpool fan I tend to do the same it is what it is.. The rivalry between the two most successful English clubs is unique and unrivaled the passion and heat of the moment does sometimes effect our brain and or mouths. AS a Scouser now living in Toronto amongst other Brits some good friends are even Mancs the banter back n forth is extreme at times and hard to escape in such a neutral location I give as good as i get my license plates read MANUTD8R so for tonight I get to wear a smile on my face down the pub..As a side note the clubs are supported word wide the most popular shirts you see are Liverpool and utd .. So the articles well written and seen worldwide should be given the thumbs up from both sides ..well done See you in a few weeks ..

  2. Eugene Garvey says:

    United played well for the most part with some good passing but there did not seem to be a urgency to score, maybe they missed Rooney. It’s a bad day for United fans, the scousers need to be punished at OT in a couple of weeks.

  3. Big Boss says:

    I agree with you mate… We missed Rooney today

  4. Big Boss says:

    Thanks Kevin for passing by..Glad to hear this from Liverpool fan. You are right,both clubs are popular worldwide… I was in Toronto on September and watched Stoke vs United at the main event and i met many passionate fans there. You won today…But hopefully we will win at Old Trafford ;)

  5. Ras S says:

    Kevin, thanks for the compliment and I got to say this is the first time in my life that I have come across such a level-headed Liverpool fan. But maybe that has got to do with the fact that you won. I am from Singapore and the passion and fever of a Liverpool-United match is also keenly felt here. The banter and insults are also regularly traded and these two clubs remain the most popular English clubs in the world. The two most supported English clubs in the world. Which is also why it hurts more having lost a tie against Liverpool. I am still sulking about it a day after the game. Hahah. See you at OT :)

  6. Ras S says:

    Eugene, I got to agree with you. We had a lot of possession and we controlled large parts of the game but in fairness we hardly created many clear-cut chances and as the clock ticked down in the second half, the lesser we kept possession and the lesser we were in the opponents half. I doubt Berbatov touched the ball when he came on and Hernandez was feeding on scraps. Our lack of creativity and lack of penetrative play has cost us this season too. There is no use keeping possession when we don’t do anything with it. Moreover our defence and goalkeeper don’t exude much confidence but in fairness, the younger members of the defence are doing better than the senior ones.

  7. Tatts says:

    Well, there is no surprise that Owen is sticking up for his young team mate De Gea. I am stating the obvious, but I am also just expressing my opinion.

    Evra was also at fault for the fault too with his positioning for the 2nd goal, but Hart, Schmeichel, Van Der Saar etc,etc, would have been quick to rush off his line to close Kuyt down in that situation – he made it too easy for Kuyt to line up his shot. But also for the first he should be coming out to try and get something on that corner for the first goal.

    I realise his confidence has suffered, but you have to look at why his confidence has suffered. I think uncertainty leads to anxiety and not knowing or not having the experience of the English game to deal with certain situations, (such as dealing with attackers that block vision and path to the ball and cause confrontations, pushing/pulling -all part and parcel of the game) – has caused De Gea to loose confidence. Then the uncertainly passes through to the defenders who are not sure whether to come or go.

    I have to say I like De Gea, his agility is not in question, he has good composure on the whole and good distribution too. I seen some of his saves and have been impressed with shot stopping on the whole and I think If he started his career in England @ age 15 and got used to the demands of the english game, then I am sure he would one of the best goalkeepers in England/Europe by now. However unlikely it is I think one of the best things that Fergie could do for him is really let him have a loan spell at a championship club where he would get the consistent game experience of bulking up and dealing with being bumped and bashed around. Short term pain for long term gain. I imagine he would come back a really solid keeper able to deal with the demands of the premier league.

  8. PLT says:

    I think generally, the defence can’t be blamed, and it’s easy pickings to point the finger at De Gea as per usual. Generally, United were so comfortable during the game that perhaps it was just a lack of concentration that cost us the game. Michael Owen has since stuck up for De Gea on Twitter and I think it’s just unfortunate for the lad that every goal he lets in will be followed by a question “should he have done better with that”. Unfortunately mud sticks and the poor guy is going to get judged every single game for the rest of the season. United badly missed Rooney, and our usual philosophy of score more than we conceed would have won us the game if perhaps Nani and Rooney were involved.

  9. Ras S says:

    Tatts well said but I doubt Sir Alex will let him go on loan. It goes to show that it is not easy to play in England. He is not the first foreigner to suffer and there have been more experienced and better established foreigners before him who have come to England and failed, having done better elsewhere. I am not sure if the vision story has any truth in it. Only God knows. I feel Sir Alex will either sell him or stick with him. As sensible as a loan spell elsewhere might sound, I doubt he will do it.

  10. Ras S says:

    PLT what you say has some truth as well because it’s rather unfair that every goal he concedes will be magnified. However that goes with the territory of playing for Manchester United and being a United keeper. That is why so many came and failed to replace Schmeichel until Van Der Sar. It looks like its going to be a similar kind of a journey to find a replacement for Van Der Sar. De Gea has invited pressure from the first day in the Charity Shield and honestly, I don’t think many are convinced when they look at him and his slight figure in goal. It doesn’t exude confidence. As for scoring more goals than conceding then let me tell you that is not the way to win trophies. To win trophies, a team needs a solid defence.

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