The good, the bad and Mane’s reaction – Debating Man United 2-4 Liverpool

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Following Liverpool’s superb 4-2 victory away to Man United, three Reds supporters dissect a huge win at Old Trafford.

It was a make-or-break night for Jurgen Klopp‘s side, but they delivered a huge three points in the top-four battle.

Bruno Fernandes may have given United a first-half lead, but Diogo Jota‘s equaliser and Roberto Firmino‘s brace put Liverpool 3-1 up.

Marcus Rashford’s goal made for a nervy ending for the Reds, but Mohamed Salah burst clear to clinch victory in the dying seconds.

Here, This Is Anfield’s Henry Jackson (@HenryJackson87) is joined by fellow writers Liam Togher (@liamtogher88) and Dan Clubbe (@dan_clubbe) to discuss a memorable evening for Liverpool, as well as an unsavoury moment involving Sadio Mane at the end of the match.

 

The good…

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Thursday, May 13, 2021: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah celebrates after scoring the fourth goal during the FA Premier League match between Manchester United FC and Liverpool FC at Old Trafford. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

LIAM: Well who saw this result coming? Because I certainly didn’t!

Considering that not even our all-conquering teams of the last couple of seasons could win at Old Trafford, for us to go there and do the business in a hugely troubled campaign is incredibly satisfying.

Trent ran the show and, with Gareth Southgate watching on from the stands, surely gave the England manager a four-course meal for thought with the selection of England’s Euro 2020 squad on the horizon.

The things that the 22-year-old can do with the ball are a joy to behold.

Also, what a night for Firmino to end his lengthy scoring drought. It was also welcome to see all three of the starting forwards getting on the scoresheet – something which hasn’t happened since the Selhurst Park romp just before Christmas.

Hat tip, too, to Gini Wijnaldum, whose performances in recent weeks have been much-maligned. The Dutchman was near-impeccable with his passing and did his share of defensive work as well.

Like Firmino, he chose the perfect occasion to give one of his better displays of an underwhelming season.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Thursday, May 13, 2021: Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold puts on the captain's armband during the FA Premier League match between Manchester United FC and Liverpool FC at Old Trafford. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

DAN: For me, it’s impossible to start anywhere other than Trent.

The lad was untouchable and comfortably the best player on a pitch full of some high-quality performers.

His range of passing and creativity has genuinely never been seen before from a right-back – the ball to put Mane in on goal was the pick of an outrageously impressive bunch.

Deserved a goal from one of his three attempts to show for his efforts. Future captain’s performance for me.

Firmino is next in line for an individual mention. After being too unselfish early on, his much-needed two goals were taken well.

That’s something we can’t always say about Bobby.

Both centre-backs also came out of perhaps the most daunting night in their short Liverpool careers with plenty of credit. Coming up against Cavani, they did a stellar job for the most part – particularly Phillips, after what was a shaky start following the own goal.

Finally, Thiago. Had his problems this season but last night was another sign of the Spaniard adapting to life with the Reds.

2FN37JJ Liverpool's Roberto Firmino celebrates scoring their side's second goal of the game during the Premier League match at Old Trafford, Manchester. Picture date: Thursday May 13, 2021.

HENRY: I agree with Liam that the win was richly deserved, which makes it even sweeter at a ground like Old Trafford.

Then of course there’s Trent, who the lads have covered perfectly. What an unbelievable footballer he is – he sees passes most mere mortals only dream of seeing.

I thought the centre-backs did admirably, considering they were up against some elite attacking players, while Thiago was relentless in the middle of the park.

The hope is that Bobby’s goals will give him massive confidence going into the final three games, too, especially with fans returning and the Brazilian able to show off!

How are we in this position? It seems unfathomable, after all that has gone wrong, which is a massive positive.

 

The bad…

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Thursday, May 13, 2021: Referee Anthony Taylor looks at the VAR monitor before disallowing a penalty for Liverpool during the FA Premier League match between Manchester United FC and Liverpool FC at Old Trafford. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

LIAM: Klopp and his coaching team will watch back this game and realise that, while Man United netted twice, it could easily have been more.

It took a heroic Phillips goalline clearance to stop them from drawing level in the second half, while Alisson got away with one in the opening exchanges as Cavani failed to capitalise on his sloppy pass.

At the other end, we could actually have had more than four, spurning some decent opportunities as Firmino fluffed an early chance and Jota later struck the post when he seemed primed to score.

Missed opportunities and close calls at the back didn’t cost us last night, but if they do in the upcoming games against West Brom, Burnley and Crystal Palace and prove the difference between us making top four and missing out, the sense of regret will make it a horrifying summer.

DAN: Although it was far from the perfect performance, I found it difficult to pick out many bad points as it was probably about as complete a display as we can hope for with this current side.

Having said that, at 3-1 there was more wastefulness in front of goal as Jota and Mane both squandered chances to kill the game off that looked as though they may come back to haunt us when Rashford scored.

HENRY: Again, both Liam and Dan have read my mind!

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Thursday, May 13, 2021: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp reacts during the FA Premier League match between Manchester United FC and Liverpool FC at Old Trafford. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Despite the brilliance of the result, and performance, there was still some sloppiness in the final third.

If that had finished 3-3 – which I was convinced it would do in the last 20 minutes – the likes of Jota and Mane would have had a lot to answer for.

Alisson‘s distribution was also poor, as it has been too often this season, with that error for Cavani’s miss simply not good enough.

He will come good in that area, but he’s been a tough watch with the ball at his feet throughout the campaign.

VAR was painful again, too – I didn’t think it was a penalty at first, but in hindsight, that is a shocking decision, considering the current rules.

Then again, it was Anthony Taylor, so what do you expect?

 

And Mane’s reaction…

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, April 14, 2021: Liverpool's Sadio Mané during the pre-match warm-up before the UEFA Champions League Quarter-Final 2nd Leg game between Liverpool FC and Real Madird CF at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

LIAM: The optics of it aren’t great, that’s one thing for sure.

Hopefully, it’s one of those matters which is discussed privately between player and manager, settled there and then and swiftly forgotten about.

It was disappointing to open the Sky Sports app and see that the top story was this post-match incident rather than anything to highlight just how good our performance had been.

I certainly don’t appreciate the gloss being taken off one of our best victories of the season!

If Sadio nets a decisive goal or two in the coming days to get us into the Champions League next autumn, I doubt Klopp will lose too much sleep over an unreturned handshake.

DAN: These types of things are always difficult to gauge.

While I hope it was little more than a top professional frustrated at not starting – having come on to round off a 4-2 win at Old Trafford to keep the top-four hopes alive – it would’ve been nice to witness nothing but unbridled joy among the players.

Long-term, I don’t see it being a problem with Mane, however, who has never really shown any signs of dissent towards Klopp.

He normally saves that for Salah!

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Thursday, May 13, 2021: Liverpool's Sadio Mané is denied by Manchester United's goalkeeper Dean Henderson during the FA Premier League match between Manchester United FC and Liverpool FC at Old Trafford. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

HENRY: I wouldn’t exactly say I was overjoyed to see Mane’s reaction, but let’s not make too much of it.

He’s an emotional player, we have seen that in the past, and I actually like to see that being left out of the team really matters to him.

This is professional football, emotions run high, it happens.

Only an hour before kickoff I was having a shouting match with my brother at seven-a-side because he didn’t play me in – I feel your anger, Sadio!

One thing I would say is that if this was Salah, every newspaper in the country would be lambasting him today, but Mane gets more of a free ride.

I honestly have no idea why that is!

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