Monday 16 January 2017

Spirit and courage on show again as United refuse to accept defeat

The first half against Liverpool was arguably United's worst 45 minutes of the season in a strangely flat and lifeless performance.

We still created more chances than the visitors, but Jurgen Klopp outdid his opposite number tactically and many of our key players were below par. 

The effervescent German got his system spot on and deserves credit for his game plan that stifled and smothered United.
Jose's tactical change from a pass and move style to a more direct approach paid dividends and his introduction of Marouane Fellaini was an inspired switch. 

Michael Carrick struggled to find his usual metronomic consistency, Anthony Martial was well - er - marshalled by a posse of  Liverpool players and Henrikh Mkhitaryan was quiet.
Zlatan, his goal aside, was largely ineffective and Paul Pogba - hugely impressive in recent weeks - had probably his worst game in a United shirt.

He gave away the penalty from which the visitors took the lead,  missed a great one-on-one chance, was often caught in possession and resembled the player who struggled in the early weeks of his second United career. 
Even the best players, however, have a bad game and Pogba should not dwell on his bad day at the office too much. 

Ander Herrera was excellent, our man of the match Marcos Rojo also impressed with an immense performance at the back and Marouane Fellaini's introduction changed the game in the second half. 

The Reds run of nine successive victories came to an end, but the unbeaten run goes on as we gained a deserved reward for a much improved second half showing.

A draw was ultimately a fair result from a fiery encounter low on quality but high in entertainment and passion with talking points aplenty.

The fact that we managed to still get a result despite not being at our best spoke volumes of this side's spirit, desire and courage.
There were again hallmarks of Sir Alex's United, the never-say-die mentality, the refusal to accept defeat and the ability to grab a game that appeared to have slipped from our grasp by the scruff of the neck. 

Decision making let us down against Liverpool: too often we tried to pass our way through the middle of their high-octane midfield, didn't get crosses in often enough and struggled to deal with set-pieces. 

There was to be no late heroics like we saw against Middlesbrough on New Year's Eve, but, had there been another five minutes against Liverpool then we might well have forced a winner.

No doubt it's an opportunity missed as victory would have put us two points behind Liverpool, but our unbeaten run stretches to a 16th game ahead of the ever-tricky trip to Stoke on Saturday.

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