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Liverpool clash wasn't pretty, but Mourinho tactics helped Manchester United clear tricky hurdle

By Ian Herbert

Published 18/10/2016

Liverpool's German manager Jurgen Klopp embraces Liverpool's Brazilian midfielder Philippe Coutinho after the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Manchester United at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on October 17, 2016. AFP/Getty Images
Liverpool's German manager Jurgen Klopp embraces Liverpool's Brazilian midfielder Philippe Coutinho after the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Manchester United at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on October 17, 2016. AFP/Getty Images
Liverpool's German midfielder Emre Can (R) gives Manchester United's English midfielder Ashley Young a helping push as he's substituted during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Manchester United at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on October 17, 2016. AFP/Getty Images
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp (centre) shows his frustration during the Premier League match at Anfield, Liverpool. PA
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp (left) shows his frustration during the Premier League match at Anfield, Liverpool. PA
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho applauds supporters after the final whistle during the Premier League match at Anfield, Liverpool. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday October 17, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Liverpool. Photo credit should read: Peter Byrne/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: EDITORIAL USE ONLY No use with unauthorised audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications.
Manchester United's English striker Wayne Rooney walks off after the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Manchester United at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on October 17, 2016. The game finished 0-0. / AFP PHOTO / Paul ELLIS / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. / PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images
Manchester United's Belgian midfielder Marouane Fellaini (L) vies with Liverpool's Senegalese midfielder Sadio Mane during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Manchester United at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on October 17, 2016. AFP/Getty Images
James Milner of Liverpool lies on the ground injured during the Premier League match between Liverpool and Manchester United at Anfield on October 17, 2016 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Liverpool's English midfielder James Milner lies injured during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Manchester United at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on October 17, 2016.AFP/Getty Images
Manchester United's Spanish midfielder Ander Herrera (R) vies with Liverpool's Brazilian midfielder Roberto Firmino during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Manchester United at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on October 17, 2016. AFP/Getty Images
Manchester United's Ivorian defender Eric Bailly receives the first booking of the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Manchester United at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on October 17, 2016. AFP/Getty Images
Manchester United's Portuguese manager Jose Mourinho gestures during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Manchester United at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on October 17, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / Paul ELLIS / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. / PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images
Manchester United's Wayne Rooney during the Premier League match at Anfield, Liverpool. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday October 17, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Liverpool. Photo credit should read: Peter Byrne/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: EDITORIAL USE ONLY No use with unauthorised audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications.
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 17: Jurgen Klopp, Manager of Liverpool looks on during the Premier League match between Liverpool and Manchester United at Anfield on October 17, 2016 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho during the Premier League match at Anfield, Liverpool. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday October 17, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Liverpool. Photo credit should read: Peter Byrne/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: EDITORIAL USE ONLY No use with unauthorised audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications.
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 17: Jose Mourinho, Manager of Manchester United is greeted by Jurgen Klopp, Manager of Liverpool during the Premier League match between Liverpool and Manchester United at Anfield on October 17, 2016 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 17: Ander Herrera of Manchester United is closed down by Roberto Firmino of Liverpool during the Premier League match between Liverpool and Manchester United at Anfield on October 17, 2016 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Liverpool's English midfielder Jordan Henderson (C) does stretching exercises during warm up ahead of the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Manchester United at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on October 17, 2016. AFP/Getty Images
Liverpool's German manager Jurgen Klopp watches his players warm up ahead of the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Manchester United at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on October 17, 2016. AFP/Getty Images
Three Liverpool fans show off their shirts ahead of the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Manchester United at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on October 17, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / Paul ELLIS / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. / PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images
Supporters gather outside the ground ahead of the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Manchester United at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on October 17, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / Paul ELLIS / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. / PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images
The sign above the re-located Shankly Gates is seen illuminated ahead of the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Manchester United at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on October 17, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / Paul ELLIS / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. / PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images
Supporters gather outside the ground ahead of the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Manchester United at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on October 17, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / Paul ELLIS / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. / PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images
The coach carrying Manchester United's players arrives at the ground ahead of the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Manchester United at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on October 17, 2016. AFP/Getty Images
Manchester United's English striker Wayne Rooney (C) is seen through the roof of the coach carrying Manchester United's players to the ground ahead of the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Manchester United at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on October 17, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / Paul ELLIS / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. / PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images
Fans pose with a scarf outside the stadium before the Premier League match between Liverpool and Manchester United at Anfield on October 17, 2016 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 17: Fans arrive at the stadium for the Premier League match between Liverpool and Manchester United at Anfield on October 17, 2016 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 17: A fan takes a photograph of the stadium before the Premier League match between Liverpool and Manchester United at Anfield on October 17, 2016 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 17: A general view of the Shankly gates outside the stadium before the Premier League match between Liverpool and Manchester United at Anfield on October 17, 2016 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 17: A general view of the Shankly gates outside the stadium before the Premier League match between Liverpool and Manchester United at Anfield on October 17, 2016 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 17: Fans arrive at the stadium for the Premier League match between Liverpool and Manchester United at Anfield on October 17, 2016 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 17: A local guesthouse advertises its German breakfast near to the stadium before the Premier League match between Liverpool and Manchester United at Anfield on October 17, 2016 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 17: Vendors sell merchandise outside the stadium before the Premier League match between Liverpool and Manchester United at Anfield on October 17, 2016 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 17: A general view of the stadium before the Premier League match between Liverpool and Manchester United at Anfield on October 17, 2016 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 17: A general view of the stadium before the Premier League match between Liverpool and Manchester United at Anfield on October 17, 2016 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 17: A general view of the stadium and surrounding area before the Premier League match between Liverpool and Manchester United at Anfield on October 17, 2016 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 17: A general view of the Paisley Gateway outside the stadium before the Premier League match between Liverpool and Manchester United at Anfield on October 17, 2016 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 17: Fans arrive at the stadium for the Premier League match between Liverpool and Manchester United at Anfield on October 17, 2016 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 17: Fans arrive at the stadium for the Premier League match between Liverpool and Manchester United at Anfield on October 17, 2016 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Composite photo of Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp and Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho, who go head to head on Monday evening when Liverpool face rivals Manchester United at Anfield. PA
Winning record: Klopp’s had edge in meetings with Mourinho
Watchful eye: Jose Mourinho presides over United training

Jose Mourinho was lost for words on Friday when he tried to say that he did not care if people found him less animated than Jurgen Klopp. "I'm not on the touchline to…" he said, waving his arms around as he left the room to indicate what he meant.

Klopp did, indeed, take the eye as the minutes ticked down last night - staring at the opposition warm-up as he always does, lingering on the pitch long after Manchester United had left to hear their final instructions.

Something new was building here by then; a suspense about how the new Anfield would feel under lights with 18,000 more packed into the new top tier. A black cat stalked the turf. A beautiful Harvest Moon dominated the sky.

What Mourinho had imbued his team with was considerably less poetic but very effective, though. He scowled, sniffed, stuffed hands in pockets and it was clear from the second minute that he had sent his team out to win this game physically.

That was the moment Marcus Rashford went through James Milner.

United were tougher, stronger, uglier. The presence of Marouane Fellaini in the deep midfield never fulfils that sense of what their supporters feel the spirit of Old Trafford should bring but few would not have taken the bubble of Liverpool speed and intensity being burst. It was a necessity.

Mourinho was facing the side which had scored more goals than any other in the Premier League (73) since Klopp's tenure began a year ago. He also began with three points fewer than Louis van Gaal at the same point last season.

The pressers became the oppressed and individuals at the heart of Liverpool were bullied. Emre Can, Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino struggled to retain the ball. A re-organisation Mourinho had effected pushed Paul Pogba up behind Zlatan Ibrahimovic (6ft 3in behind 6ft 5in) and Jordan Henderson felt it.

It didn't help Liverpool that the Daniel Sturridge enigma was far from being solved. A ball Can put across for him dribbled off his foot. He didn't anticipate a ball from Milner.

Klopp's displeasure was explosive at times. To say that Can received both barrels would be an understatement. The new expanded cauldron was supposed to have burnt United alive but Anfield seemed to lack the thumping intensity of old.

Klopp arrived for the second half several minutes before his players. It seemed to be him saying: 'I've said my piece, now sort it out' and his players tried: David de Gea required a save of outstanding quality to palm away from Can.

Even finer was his leap to make the fingertip touch which sent Coutinho's 30-yard shot clear. The quality of Antonio Valencia's tackle on Firmino should not be forgotten.

It was what Wayne Rooney can bring that United had missed when he arrived with 15 minutes to play. The missing factor was skill and touch, something only Ander Herrera had brought to any degree.

Such sophistication didn't arrive. Rooney was scrambling around in the right-back berth, trying to seize back possession, by the end. Not pretty and not memorable, but necessary.

There was no animation from Mourinho for Klopp; just a handshake before he marched away down the tunnel, obstacle cleared amid these difficult early months in the foothills of his biggest football mission yet.

Belfast Telegraph

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