Manchester United without Ronaldo defeated Liverpool
For fans of English soccer, the season has actually begun. The first bright preseason match took place, which could immediately attract a lot of attention. Since Manchester United and Liverpool met, the games between them in any tournament and in any status remain principled and attractive.
Additionally, the reason for the interest was the fact that, for United, it was the first match under Eric ten Hague, a game without the ghost of Cristiano Ronaldo. And it was curious to see where Liverpool were headed, having almost reached the top last season and now having to try not to drop the high bar. In general, the meeting in Bangkok was very interesting. But with the understandable and inescapable caveat that it was only a preseason game, and the first one at that.
So all conclusions on the basis of what we saw can only be considered superficial, but we can at least be glad for the return of great soccer to those who missed it. Let it be in this format. Especially considering the fact that the teams did not sit back and tried to use the friendly match to maximum benefit, playing spectacularly, intensely, albeit with the inevitable flaws. So, what could be seen?
Let’s go on the pressure
Of course, the main thing that attracts attention is the scoreline. Even for a preseason match, it was obscenely high, not in favor of the stronger team in the end of last season. “Liverpool lost 0-4, conceding three times in the first half. Let’s start with the positives in the actions of MJ. The players began to show signs of confidence in ten Hague’s philosophy and methodology, with which they trained hard for a week or two. You can already see how they are trying to implement some of the techniques in the game.
Last season, Rangnick eventually conceded that United were not in the best shape to lead the pressing game. But if you look at this preseason meeting, there has been some serious progress. Even Marcial, who cannot be suspected of excessive commitment when working on defense, tried his best after returning from loan. He put pressure on the opponent in the 33rd minute, intercepted the ball and rushed to the goal to score, which he did. And he rushed to the rebound in the stifling heat, working all the time he was given.
And in general, the MJ players were already moving more aggressively and confidently. Obviously, it will take time to sharpen their style, to establish interaction, but the direction is already visible. As can be seen the desire to play only forward. Players were directly looking for options to develop combinations only for the opponents’ goal, not dragging rubber with crosses. We should also note and follow the progress in this regard.
Not Ronaldo alone
When Cristiano returned to MJ, everyone at the club was held hostage. On the one hand, the return of the legend and striker, on the other hand – too much attention to the Portuguese, because of which the teamwork could suffer. Ronaldo was not involved in this game and the team showed that the 24 goals he scored last season could well be smeared among other players. Sancho, Fred, Marcial and Pellistri each scored a goal.
Even Rashford had an awesome moment in the first half, but missed it. Of course, Manchester City could use a scorer, but we need to develop other players’ confidence and desire to score, so from this point of view the match was definitely good for the team spirit.
Liverpool have their own goals
Teng Hag at Man Utd and Klopp at Liverpool have different tasks at this stage of pre-season. The former needs to build something new, look for a scheme and philosophy that will bring the collapsed giant back to his feet. The second needs to just smoothly bring his top team into the season with the addition of some new pieces and reviewing those very pieces from his own reserves.
Hence the difference in approach, which was expressed at least in the substitution system. MJ actually played two squads, while Liverpool played three, with each squad given thirty minutes on the pitch. In the end, by the way, each team conceded, and the first team even conceded twice – it was not notable for its strength, while United put on a more powerful combination at the start.
Of course, Liverpool wouldn’t want to lose 0-4 to MJ even with these “own goals”. Even in a friendly game. But we shouldn’t attach too much importance to the result. It’s unlikely that anyone will doubt that Liverpool will be one of the dominant forces in Europe next season after that defeat.
We’ve already said above that Marcial, back from loan, has done well, feeling that he can return to the team from the category of written off players. The same could be said for defender Eric Baya, whose situation seemed even more dire when you consider the fact that MJ have Varan, Maguire and Lindelöf in the center, as well as attempts to sign Lissandro Martinez from Ajax.
But it seems that Bayeux also wants to show ten Hague: it’s not for nothing that United once paid £30 million for him to Villarreal. When the weaker second choice of Manchester City’s squad came under pressure from a fresher and stronger combination of Liverpool players, Eric was excellent in the last lines of defence, acting reliably and carefully – ten Hague, a champion of strict discipline, must have liked it. One of his interceptions led to United’s fourth goal.
Overall, Bayy gave the impression of a player who should not be written off right away. Quite a few United players were in a similar position, and some had to rehabilitate themselves not in front of the coaches, but in front of the fans. But everyone did it in different ways.
Presentation of the newcomer
Liverpool, on the other hand, were busy incorporating new important links into their perfectly functioning mechanism. Of course, the most anticipated was the debut of Darwin Nunez. And he took to the pitch, but in the last squad, when Liverpool had already lost 0-3. But Klopp partnered him with Salah, Trent, Robertson, Fabinho and Alcantara in the same slot.
In general, Darwin could feel he was in decent surroundings and with a good chance to clear the scoresheet, because MJ, on the other hand, weakened the squad with substitutions, letting the boys out “to try out the pen”. Darwin had a great chance to score when the ball hit the post after Salah’s shot, but Nunez missed the ball.
Liverpool can only hope that the ex-Benfica player swings up and gets into the game as dashing as ex-Porto player Luis Diaz did after his transfer in January. Diaz was excellent here as well – even the crowd greeted him in a special way when he got the ball. True, he failed to score either. But that’s how it’s going to be.