Belfast Telegraph

Liverpool v Manchester United: Louis Van Gaal saved but Jurgen Klopp must find a bit extra

The Verdict

By Steven Beacom

Louis Van Gaal is fast becoming the great survivor at Manchester United. Many United fans have wanted him and his boring brand of football out of the club for months.

But after all the pressure, scrutiny and derision, the Dutchman is still there and following yesterday's 1-0 victory at Liverpool he will feel stronger about his position than he has done for some time.

Liverpool are nothing special these days - they are ninth in the Premier League for a reason - but to United fans they are still Liverpool, their most hated rivals. And Van Gaal's record against them is perfect. Four Premier League games and four wins. He must wish he could play them every week!

For long periods yesterday United were as dull as normal under LVG, but in David De Gea they had a goalkeeper who refused to be beaten and in Wayne Rooney they had a match-winner at the other end.

As an Everton-mad kid, scouser Rooney dreamed about days like this... scoring the winner at Anfield, which took the Red Devils into fifth, seven points behind leaders Arsenal.

He may have been in United white rather than Everton blue but his feeling of joy when he drilled home in the 78th minute after Marouane Fellaini's header had crashed against the bar from a corner was evident.

Rooney was a picture of delight as he celebrated his victorious strike. Such a contrast to the dejected figure who has laboured with his own form and his team's style of play for most of the campaign.

In September, United had three shots on target at home to Liverpool and won 3-1. At Anfield Rooney's effort was their only one on target. They have been making it count versus the old enemy, even if failing miserably against others.

Mind you, when De Gea is at his brilliant best one is all United need. What a superb goalkeeper he is. Before Rooney broke the deadlock, he saved goal-bound efforts from Adam Lallana and Emre Can and quite possibly his manager's job in the process.

Defeat at Anfield would have upped the ante on Van Gaal. With only two wins in their previous 11 dreary games, the heat was on. Now will come a cooling off period and the United boss knows it.

So buoyant was he after one of the biggest results of his career he was talking about the winning the title. Steady on Louis ... if you don't build on this the temperature will rise again.

For Liverpool, under Jurgen Klopp, it was a day that promised much and delivered only disappointment. There's been quite a few of them since the German arrived to much fanfare.

In his 14 Premier League games Klopp's lightweight side have earned him just 19 points, six of which came in false dawn victories at Chelsea and Manchester City. (Van Gaal has 21 in the same time frame).

Klopp has inherited these players, and he will only be judged when what he considers to be his team is out on the pitch. What he needs is a marksman to take chances - a fit Daniel Sturridge would help - and players at the back who can cope with set pieces. Only when Liverpool learn to defend corners will Klopp know they have truly turned one.

Belfast Telegraph


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