Manchester United vs Liverpool Analysis


Manchester United faced Liverpool in the International Champions Cup, the premier preseason tournament for the big boys of Europe. In front of 107 thousand fans at the Rose Bowl stadium in California. Chris Smalling was injured for United in the pre-game warm up. Eric Bailly, who was given a complete rest as he had a niggle, came straight into the lineup. He played centrally in a 3-5-2 system, supported on either side by the young duo of Fosu Mensah and Tuanzebe. McTominay, Herrera and Andreas Pereira were the part of the midfield three, with Mata and Sanchez up ahead.

Liverpool started brightly and expectedly so, as most of their first team players or squad players were in the starting XI. Sadio Mane and Mo Salah combined brilliantly in the opening stages and the latter had two shots on target inside the first 12 minutes. United lacked the physicality in the attacking department as the long balls from United's defense to overcome the Liverpool's pressing found only the heads of Klavan and Van Dijk. Around the half an hour mark, young Mitchell fouled Salah inside the box and Sadio Mane slotted the ball home from the spot. But Mitchell took it upon himself to rectify his earlier mistake and right from the kickoff, he went on a mazy run and won a free kick from a dangerous position. United's player of the preseason so far, Andreas Pereira stepped up and produced a moment of magic. From 25 yards, he curled a beautiful free-kick into the top corner and gave the Liverpool goalie no chance. Juan Mata found the back of the net twice, but the assistant referee had his flags raised on both occasions. 

At the start of the second half, United got Joel Pereira in place of Grant and the intensity of the game
reduced drastically as the heat started to get on to players. Around midway through the second half, Klopp got in Shaqiri and Sturridge and seconds later the duo combined to give Liverpool the lead. Then Hererra fouled Roberston in the area and Ojo scored one of the calmest penalties you will ever see in football. It was Shaqiri's turn now and the new Liverpool signing scored a gorgeous overhead kick to make it 4-1 for the Scousers. The lack of depth and experience amongst United's ranks was a glaring observation as the likes of Mata, Sanchez and Herrera played for almost 90 minutes for the second game running. 

But the fall out amongst United fans, especially online is really hilarious.  A preseason defeat to a rival, where more than 10 first team players were missing due to their World Cup duties was taken by many as a cup final loss to Liverpool. If the media's narrative is to be considered, United are in tatters after this preseason loss to Liverpool. But when United beat then defending UCL champions Real Madrid and Barcelona in 2014 and 2015 respectively, why weren't  United considered as the Treble favorites? It was very conveniently conveyed by the same media that it was just a preseason game. Hashtag "Mourinho Out" was trending among United supporters as some said they had seen enough of his moaning and negative football. But do they understand that this was probably just a quarter of the original first team squad? They easily forget how Mourinho got United to 2nd place in the league, highest ever position since Sir Alex Ferguson left and with 81 points, the highest ever tally since the Scotsman's last season at Old Trafford. Yes, sometimes he moans a lot and sometimes he gets his tactics wrong, like that one occasion vs Sevilla at home. But that doesn't mean he doesn't know what he is doing. He is still a winner, who has taken United to 3 finals in 2 years and won 2 of them. He is the best chance United have got to win their 21st league title. But he needs support from the chairman Ed Woodward too. Last season City splashed 130 million on fullbacks and that was important for Guardiola's system and proved to be a masterstroke. Mourinho said in his post-match press conference that he needs two more players for the season and it's the job of Woodward to make this happen and give the best chance for United to march on to the Premier League title.

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