January 29, 2012


Kenny Dalglish can savour the week Liverpool's whole mood changed (Kevin McCarra, 1/28/12, guardian.co.uk)

When Liverpool's followers look back on the week's events they will not be so dull as to debate the details. The surge that is pounding through their minds even now is of the momentum that Kenny Dalglish's side established after the interval here. It was reminiscent of the displays inspired in other days by the beaten manager.

Sir Alex Ferguson is more often associated with the ravenous ambition and limitless endeavour that distinguished Dalglish's men in the second half. The aftermath now sees the United manager at far greater risk of a trophyless campaign. The tie was not distinguished, but the sheer impetus of Liverpool hinted that their old standing need not be out of reach permanently.

Some aspects of what was, in truth, an unkempt match can be mocked, but the victors will think only of their vindication. The extra energy with which they pummelled their opponents late in the match spoke of a team that realised its moment had come. Andy Carroll was the epitome of that.

Once again he did not score but he helped to settle the outcome by acting precisely as he is supposed to do, glancing the long ball from his goalkeeper, Pepe Reina, into the path of another forward, the substitute Dirk Kuyt, to hit the winner while Patrice Evra was stranded out of position.

If United's thoughts were drifting towards a replay by that time, most of the crowd would have been in a similar frame of mind. The hosts, however, borrowed from the Old Trafford repertoire by somehow insisting on victory. At such a moment we recognise the fallibility that the leading clubs hide from us most of the time.

It is a little disconcerting to recognise that Paul Scholes, a retiree until his sudden return to the field, was perhaps the most accomplished performer while his stamina held up. United got 75 minutes of the technique and sheer talent that bolsters a side. On this occasion, that did not suffice.

Liverpool were the inexhaustible force. Dalglish did everything in his power to sustain that intensity. The captain, Steven Gerrard, was even sacrificed after 72 minutes so that Craig Bellamy could bring more verve to bear. The latter, so important in sending the team to that Carling Cup final with his goal against City, would help in sustaining the momentum that proved too much for United.

...that when the manager was forced out of his defensive posture into an attacking one it radically altered the game. Playing an opponent with no striker who can create a shot and no central defenders who can stop one, it was unforgivable to play a lone striker yourself.  All you had to do was account for Valencia and there was no chance of Man U scoring. 

The King is simply overmatched by the modern game.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Posted by at January 29, 2012 9:11 AM

blog comments powered by Disqus