Chicharito equalizer spoils Gerrard's return
Photo Courtesy of Nigel Wilson
The English FA has launched an enquiry after Manchester United’s Patrice Evra accused Liverpool’s Luis Suarez of racially abusing him throughout Saturday’s uninspiring one-all draw – a claim the Uruguayan striker adamantly refutes.
An accusation that can’t be denied is the one leveled at Sir Alex Ferguson, one that accuses the United manager of fielding an unadventurous team with the main objective being to avoid defeat at Anfield.
Following substitute Javier Hernandez’s late equalizer, it is impossible to argue that Manchester United didn’t achieve their ultimate objective –maintaining their unbeaten start to the Premier League campaign.
United’s starting 11 threw up a number of surprises.
Danny Welbeck started as a one-man forward line, ahead of the benched Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez.
Phil Jones was asked to play in an unfamiliar midfield role, tasked with breaking up Liverpool attacks at an embryonic stage, whilst the experienced Michael Carrick warmed the bench.
The in-form Nani also found himself picking splinters, as Ferguson preferred the tireless and dependable Park Ji-Sung.
It is hard to know whether United’s defensive line-up was a show of respect to their old rivals or, rather, Ferguson thought it more important to rest some of his key men ahead of Tuesday’s important Champions League fixture in Romania.
Two draws from two games has left Ferguson’s men knowing that failure to beat Otelul Galeti will leave United in somewhat of a perilous position in their group. The likes of Rooney and Nani are sure to be recalled in order to inject the flair and creativity that was severely lacking on Saturday.
However, Saturday’s drab affair, which only sprang into life following Steven Gerrard’s 68th minute opener, can’t solely be blamed on a cautious United, with Liverpool also deploying five men across the middle of the park.
Prior to the match, we at Footballopod predicted the return of Gerrard to the starting line-up but expected it to be at the expense of Lucas Leiva or Charlie Adam. Yet manager Kenny Dalglish went with Suarez as a lone striker, relegating Andy Carroll to role of substitute and slotting Gerrard in alongside Adam with Lucas just behind.
This produced a congested midfield and a highly forgettable first half ensued - far removed from the usual blood and guts action we are used to when these two sides meet.
Only when his side went behind did Ferguson unleash Rooney, Nani and Hernandez – with the latter being on the field for just five minutes before stooping to head home from a corner.
Although Liverpool edged what turned out to be a tight affair – David de Gea thwarting the home side on a number of occasions during a late onslaught – neither manager could bemoan a point upon the final whistle.
Who was the happiest manager after the game? Undeniably, Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini.