The stat of 64% of the possession yet only one shot on target reveals something about a soccer team that has pretensions but no ambitions to match. My son asked me to watch today's Old Trafford game where Manchester United hosted tail-chasing Liverpool, while the title-chasing blue half of Manchester was preparing for today's Carabao Cup final at Wembley, won just seconds ago by City after no small measure of controversy and theatre, occasioned by the Chelsea goalkeeper putting it right up the coach. I told my son there wasn't a chance. I had arranged to meet somebody in town and even had I not, there was no way I would be watching that scrawny lot act out the pretence of being serious title contenders. The championship was theirs for the taking but is now slipping draw by draw out of their grasp.
Manchester United must be hugely disappointed that they didn't stuff the Merseysiders. It was theirs to win as according to the post-match commentary Liverpool never posed a serious assault on goal, seeming to feel that the pitch was 18 yards shorter than it actually was. With Lovren not in the side, there was a good chance the team would manage a clean sheet but at the other end, without the help of a deflection or an own goal who was going to put one past De Gea? A draw was as good as it was going to get for the Anfield side. It was pretty much a no-brainer that Ole Gunnar Solskjær's side were never going to come second best in this afternoon's fixture. As Jamie Carragher pointed out earlier this month United are a better side.
Perhaps the men from Manchester did not feel compassionate enough to have done the Liverpool fan base a favour and put them out of their misery with a crisp clear victory. Instead they have prolonged the agony until the next draw which will certainly come, maybe as early as the upcoming games against Watford and Everton. Had Utd taken all three points today, Manchester City would have been on top courtesy of goal difference and even the most loyal of Liverpool supporters would have realised there was no way back for a side so limited in options and imagination.
Liverpool are a team who are at the top solely by default. The failings of other sides' put them where they are and now that that the tide of good fortune is on its way out, Liverpool in that memorable Warren Buffet phrase, are pretty much exposed as naked. Imagine had the Sad Sacks of Anfield even a modicum of the passion, steel and determination of the title winning Leicester side a couple of seasons back, the outcome would have been very different. As it stands, when the season ends, Blew It And Threw It, will seem an appropriate swansong for ugly ducklings.
Anthony McIntyre blogs @ The Pensive Quill.
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