- Oct 6, 2007
Varela was put man marking Teixeira after about 25 minutes. Up until that point Teixeira was very prominent and after it he was invisible because Varela gave him no space. Its by no means a glamorous job and sacrificed Varela to a degree but played a huge part in us winning the game as it nullified their main playmaker. I thought it was a great piece of management from JoyceGot called into fecking work this evening just when this was about to kick off, but luckily (and thanks to MUTV's free-to-air coverage) set it to record, and I've just watched it.
Great game, fantastic performance from the lads against a much older (and less injury-struck) side. I thought we were fairly in control for the entire match until the last ten or so minutes when we really let them come at us. But that obviously had a lot to do with players going off injured and cramp setting in for others. Overall we were definitely the better team, and a 2-0 win would have better reflected the actual balance of the match.
Liverpool probably had more possession but we're not talking about us sitting back and letting them play here - most of it came from their centre-backs being oddly willing to just sit on the ball for big chunks of the first half. In the first half in particular, their midfield struggled to keep hold of the ball for any time at all, thanks to Pearson and Rothwell. They showed a surprising lack of ambition as the home side. But then I guess I'd have set my side out pretty cautiously if I knew a player like James Wilson was going to be waiting to pounce on any errors. Even with their cagey first-half game plan he was unlucky not to capitalise on that mistake five minutes in when he hit the post.
Everyone was excellent today, and big kudos to the back four - it's amazing that a defence with so few proper defenders in it is the tightest in the league. Huge achievement from them, Charni and Paddy in particular. However, if I had to pick three stand-out performers they'd be:
-Lawrence: It's easy to forget the whole generation of talent we have out on loan at the moment and just think about the younger set of Wilson, Pearson and Rothwell, but Lawrence sure as hell reminded us tonight. Looked light-years ahead of any Liverpool player in terms of his ability on the ball. There were a couple of incredible mazy runs where they just couldn't get near him and he seemed to weave past practically every red player on the pitch!
-Rothwell and Pearson: Lumped them together because although they'd make this list as individuals, it was their partnership that really stood out tonight. They complement each other beautifully. Rothwell is so positive, especially in the way he defends - harrying, chasing down, throwing himself into controlled but aggressive tackles. His energy levels are ridiculous, and his intelligence and attacking prowess were there for all to see too. Next to him, Pearson is just magic. So, so canny for a youngster. I swear sometimes he seems to have a teleporter in his pocket, the way he bursts out of nowhere to claim every single loose ball in our half, to nip in and steal every fifty-fifty. I lost count of how many times Rothwell slid in to knock the ball off a harassed-looking 'pool defender and Pearson materialised to take it neatly into his stride. Perfect partnership. Both could have scored with strong efforts on goal, too.
-Pereira: I've finally got a recorded match so my dad can get a glimpse of the players I rave about to him constantly, and this match couldn't have summed Pereira up much better. Technically sublime; I felt quite sorry for Liverpool's RB in the second half with Pereira, Lawrence and James running glittering rings around him. Like Lawrence, he looked like a man amongst boys when he had the ball at his feet (ironic given that he was presumably(?) the youngest starter on the pitch). And the goal was typical of the sort of strikes he is capable of producing at any time and against any opponent. That said, he was pretty invisible for much of the first half. He still needs to learn how to get his foot in the door in games where the possession isn't coming to him of its own accord. That aside, however, his goal seemed to energise him and after that he was key to most of our second-half attacks.
A few slight disappointments amongst the positives:
-Wilson seemed a little off the pace (understandably), and it was a shame that in the first half we weren't able to bring him into the play more. But some credit for that has to go to Liverpool; their wary, low-risk-passing approach probably cost them the game, but it was effective at keeping Wilson away from the ball and from support when he did manage to get on it.
-Our right wing wasn't able to match the effectiveness of our left. I don't know what the point of Varela and Janko swapping positions half way through was supposed to be, but it didn't appear to do any good, and I'm not surprised Lawrence ended up focussing his efforts on linking up with Pereira and Reece James in the second half.
-All the injuries! I hope we haven't lost too many of the lads who had to go off.