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PL: Man United 0 v Liverpool 5; HAPPY BIRTHDAY CAPON

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--- Quote from: Yorkykopite on October 20, 2021, 12:49:19 am ---Manchester United v Liverpool FC at Old Trafford (not the cricket ground, the other one), Sunday 24 October, KO 4.30pm

Referee: Anthony Taylor (Manchester. Yes, Manchester).

This may well be Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s last game in charge of Manchester’s number two team. If it is we will miss him. He’s been a breath of fresh air for anyone wishing Manchester United an ill wind. We cheered stupidly when he was appointed, we marvelled at the pundits who grotesquely hyped up the former Molde and Cardiff City manager, we breathed a sigh of relief each time his side pulled off a victory after a sequence of bad results. And of course we have sniggered at the ineptitude of his team’s performances in the big matches - especially in European competition. Think of all that money he has spent in the transfer market. And ask yourself who, really, he has captured that would make the starting XI at Anfield, or even the bench? Not the old men Ronaldo and Cavani, not the big oil-tanker at the back, not the Dutch bloke who once graced Ajax and who now works part-time at Hallmarks in the Arndale Centre, not the right back who “can tackle” - we are told - but who prefers to spend half of the 90 minutes on his backside. And not Varane who, though decent enough, would only be fifth in line for a centre-back spot at Liverpool.

And then there’s Solskjaer’s coaching which also produces such mirth. Tactics and strategy? Neither seem to exist at Manchester United. How to press? When to press? How to react in the first five seconds after the ball is lost? These are questions which seem never to have floated into Ole’s mind. The greatest thing, possibly the only thing, he brings to his team is enthusiasm. That’s needed of course. Klopp brings his own special kind to Liverpool. But there’s a strong sense watching Solskjaer’s teams that there’s not much else going on. If Man United are on the rack Ole pounds the club crest on his track suit top, heaves his shoulders and pulls up his chest. “Play for the badge lads” he is saying. “Play for Sir Alex.” That might have got Paddy Crerand going in years gone by, it might even fire up the technically challenged Scott McTominay, but it means nothing to Pogba or Matic or Fred (Fred? Really?) I strongly suspect it means nothing to Ronaldo either. He’s there for the money and the pens. And he’s not even taking the pens.

So we should win right? I think so. So do you. Last season we despatched them handsomely at Old Trafford - and with a team that was raw at the back but beginning to acquire confidence and momentum. This season we arrive unbeaten. Indeed we haven’t lost a game since April 6th. Our pressing game is back after a season’s convalescence and goals are plentiful and emanating from all areas of the pitch. In Salah we have not just one of the greatest players in the world over the last 5 years, but the greatest there presently is. These are the games he lives for. Old Trafford will be treated to at least one Salah goal I would think. Hopefully it will be another one “made in Heaven.”

The right flank has been the king’s highway for the Reds this season of course. It’s a sure thing that Luke Shaw will think twice about marauding up the pitch with Salah on his side of the field, especially when Maguire is the backstop. It’s worth considering this too. The vibrations from Mo’s extraordinary goal against Manchester City are still being felt, and will be felt on Sunday too. Indeed the equally extraordinary goal against Watford last week was in large part a by-product of that City goal. Defenders were starting to convince themselves they could show Salah on to his right foot. The thunderbolt against Man City ended that speculation and undoubtedly persuaded two Watford defenders the following week to throw themselves at a right-footed strike which never came. Mo simply swivelled back and curled the ball in with his favoured left. Your turn next Maguire.   

Sunday’s opponents do have good players of course. Mason Greenwood is a seriously talented forward with a pure strike and the ability to carve out space in tight areas of the pitch. He’d do well in a Klopp team. Fernandes is a good player too, though he’s suffering a little bit this season from the new edict allowing referees to let the game flow. He’s also suffering from having to adjust his game to Ronaldo, who now moves as adroitly and as ambitiously as his famous statue on the island of Madeira. And between the pegs de Gea appears to have rediscovered his confidence and his form. But, once again, these are players left to their own devices and they are playing against much better players who are being coached. 

Over the years we have sometimes gone to Old Trafford and administered a lesson. The Boxing Day massacre of ‘78 is a favourite of mine because it was the first time I saw the Reds win there. The John Barnes match in 1990 was another. The 1-4 drubbing under Rafa and the equally imperious 0-3 returned by Brendan Rodgers’s cavaliers were like gourmet meals. Such games live in the memory for ever because (Everton aside) United are our biggest opponents. We are still savouring and digesting them now. Can we lengthen the list on Sunday?

Well, we come off a hard-fought win in Madrid. Manchester are about to play Atalanta and hopefully don't screw it up so badly that Ole is no longer at the wheel on Sunday. 

I never do predictions, which means 1-3 to us.

--- End quote ---



The players are coming out. I’d love to have Andy at Allerton beside me in the comms box for this one because his dodgy officiating count will surely be off the scale.

And we’re off.


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