Sunday, January 29, 2012

Opportunity Knocks, but No One Answers

photo by ChodHoundvia PhotoRee

Despite bossing the game for large portions of the action yesterday, Manchester United bowed out of the FA Cup on a late Dirk Kuyt goal at Klanfield. The 2-1 final was a harsh judgment on the Reds, who deserved a better fate on a different day.  To win consecutive away games at The Etihad and Anfield was always going to be difficult, but the Reds will be disappointed to not have at least forced a replay after their determined effort.  Below, some brief thoughts on a game that is painful to re-hash:

o Liverpool fans showed their true colors by booing Patrice Evra brutally throughout the game.  And then Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish complimented them on their behavior in his post-game remarks.  Am I the only one that finds the club's official reaction to the Suarez racism incident a bit strange...?

o I hate to say it, but the lineup United put out screamed a draw at best. The injury crisis robbed the team of several options, and they really missed Rooney's drive....  The team's offensive plan in the game's first half seemed to consist of giving the ball to Antonio Valencia and hoping for the best.

o And speaking of Valencia, he was a one man wrecking crew. His early shot off the post was a warning to Liverpool, and he was rampant in the first half attack. 

o The slagging off of David De Gea on my Twitter timeline throughout the game was absolutely brutal. And probably deserved. He didn't exactly ooze confidence in his return to the starting lineup.

o And the new playbook against De Gea appears clear: put some big bodies in the box and send the ball in high. It worked for Daniel Agger's goal, in which the Spaniard appeared totally lost in space.

o Ji-Sung Park's finish on United's first goal was so good; technically, it was a thing of beauty. It was typical of the self-effacing South Korean that he acted as if his equalizer was nothing special....  He must have studied at the same school as Paul Scholes.

o And as for Scholes, he put on an absolute master class in passing. Should we worry that United's best midfielder on the day is almost as old as Columnist Ed?

o At the moment it ocurred, I loved Sir Alex'a substitution of Chicharito for Scholes -- but it ended up changing the game, and not in the way the Scot had hoped. United substituted their best player on the day for a more attacking option, a move that suggested the manager's great confidence in his team's ability to nick a late winner.  Once Scholes left the pitch, though, United struggled to even get hold of the ball and Liverpool dominated possession.

o I have no idea what Patric Evra was daydreaming about when he was badly beaten by Dirk Kuyt for the game's winning goal.  The Frenchman was totally out of position and slow to react to a ball that was nothing more than hopeful in the end.  And although it wouldn't have been easy, De Gea looked beaten by both Kuyt and the Kop End before the ball ever left the Dutchman's foot.

o Bringing on Dimitar Berbatov in stoppage time?  Do I even need to comment on how ridiculous that move was?

Onward and upward.  This is farlieonfootie for January 29.

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