Manchester United beat Liverpool FC 3-1 in a rather dull game at Old Trafford with new boy Anthony Martial neatly finishing a move, after Benteke scored a stunning goal to give the Reds hope late into the match.
Pressure seems to be mounting on Brendan Rodgers as the Reds look listless in attack and have now conceded 6 goals in the last two games. THT looks at three things that can be learned from the game.
1. Brendan Rodgers is no longer the fearless manager who wanted to infuse ‘death by football’
Brendan Rodgers is under tremendous pressure at Liverpool FC to deliver after he was given the vote of confidence by the owners after the Anfield outfit finished a disappointing sixth in the table last year. One of the biggest reasons for the downfall of the Reds under Rodgers has been the defensive errors in the side that have cost them points.
The defensive line-ups put out by the manager seem to be completely opposite to the style he had promised at Anfield when he first came in. His Swansea side were a fantastic passing side and he promised ‘Death by Football’ when he first came to Anfield, stressing the importance of keeping the ball as the best form of defence.
Last night, Liverpool FC were dreadful on the ball. And even though the three best passers in the squad were missing (Henderson, Coutinho, Allen), it is a shame that the Anfield side performed so dismally in the trio’s absence. It seems that Rodgers has completely lost faith in the defensive ability of his side, and hence, is putting out line-ups to secure the defence. It is clearly not working, with the Reds having conceded 6 goals over the last two games. In fact, it is compromising the attack and now, it seems that Liverpool are neither good at defence nor at attack.
In many ways, the fear of the side conceding goals and losing games has led Rodgers to alter his tactics and personnel, in a manner that would have been described as anti-Rodgers when he first took over. Fear of being sacked has gripped him, it seems, and he is really not in control.
2. Benteke can score even without service
Liverpool FC’s attack has been downright pathetic over the first five games. The Reds have prioritised defence over attack and this has led to Benteke being isolated up-front. The absence of Phillipe Coutinho in the United game further enhanced the problem. However, as he had shown in the pre-season debut, when he smashed in a wonder goal from outside the box, Benteke has the quality to score goals out of nowhere. He once again showed his quality when he stunned Old Trafford with a fantastic bicycle kick with Liverpool trailing 2-0, to give a ray of hope to his side.
There may have been a lot of questions raised about him fitting into the system at Liverpool FC, but Benteke has proved enough times over the past few games that even with a side so incapable of creating chances for him, he can score goals.
3. The dressing room unrest at Manchester United is overhyped
Prior to the game, the Manchester United manager was questioned about the reports in the media about the unrest in the dressing room with his methods as well as the treatment of players.
Van Gaal was approached by Wayne Rooney and Michael Carrick, who told them about the dressing room atmosphere being ‘flat’ following his falling out with Victor Valdes.
The players also had problems with the amount of pre and post match meeting. However, any suggestions of the player not being motivated was erased with the starting XI adhering to the style of play van Gaal has implemented at the club. Everyone seemed aligned to the philosophy the manager had outlined. Sure, there may have been disagreements, but Van Gaal seems to have everything in control.