Belfast Telegraph

Liverpool gave Manchester United a tactical lesson at Old Trafford

By Steven Beacom

It was 3-0 going on 10. The gulf in class between Liverpool and Manchester United yesterday was as wide as the Grand Canyon.

Even when Liverpool last won at Old Trafford, 4-1 in 2009, it wasn't as convincing and dominant as this.

The visitors, enjoying an exceptional season, were brilliant. Again.

United, enduring an excruciating campaign, were brutal. Again.

There's been quite a few but this was the biggest embarrassment to date under David Moyes... hammered and humiliated by the fiercest of rivals.

For months the football world has marvelled at the skill, speed and scoring ability of strike sensations Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge. Yesterday, though, the Anfield men also showed how solid and spirited they are for the run-in with the less celebrated John Flanagan, Martin Skrtel, Jordan Henderson and Joe Allen playing vital roles in their latest comprehensive victory.

Clearly this is a side in it together, led by the magnificent Steven Gerrard who netted two penalties in a commanding display. His spot-kick which hit the post, with a hat-trick waiting, was his only error all day.

That mattered little to Gerrard. The team triumphing to keep up their impressive title chase was all he cared about.

In contrast, United don't appear to be a team at all. Defensively they lack organisation, in midfield there is no creativity or class and up front Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie are devoid of inspiration and a goal threat. Van Persie says he wants to extend his contract at United. On this form he doesn't deserve to be in the starting XI, let alone be handed a lucrative new deal.

It wasn't just the Liverpool players who came out on top in their individual battles.... manager Brendan Rodgers outwitted his underfire United counterpart.

Tactically, Carnlough's favourite son taught Moyes (below) a lesson. Rodgers played a diamond formation in midfield cleverly negating the threat of Juan Mata and Adnan Januzaj. United had ONE shot on target in the entire match.

In terms of strategy, shape and the scoreline, Rodgers had a spectacular success.

As a boss he gets better and better and so does his exhilarating side who, following Gerrard's brace, wrapped up the contest with Suarez slotting home late on after Nemanja Vidic, red carded in that 4-1 defeat five years ago, was sent off for the FOURTH time against Liverpool.

Rampant Liverpool, playing with the style and strength that Rodgers demands, are second in a four horse title race. Kopites are starting to believe, with this manager and these players, a 24- year wait for championship glory could soon be over.

Rodgers, cool, calm and clinical in his job, will continue to take one game at a time. It's worked so far for the Ulsterman.

Belfast Telegraph


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