Manchester United put in one of their best performances of the season so far as they became the first team to not lose to Liverpool in the Premier League.
But they weren’t happy with a 1-1 draw against their bitter rivals.
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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who surprised many with his tactical switch to reenergize his young, injury-hit side, told the BBC that he was delighted with his players and they deserved to win.
“I wouldn’t say frustration because then you look more to the execution of the plan and the efforts of the players. Today is disappointment on the players’ behalf. They were excellent,” Solskjaer said. “You can see the fitness, we’re getting fitter and fitter. The players are disappointed in the dressing room which is a good sign. They’re not excited at a point against Liverpool. It should have been three.”
Marcus Rashford, United’s goalscorer, echoed Solskjaer’s sentiments.
Liverpool had won 17 Premier League games on the trot heading into this game, and all eight this season prior to their trip to Old Trafford. But Rashford wasn’t happy and believes United can play a lot better than they did on Sunday.
“We deserved the three points. I don’t think they were good enough to get a draw out of the game or a win but this is football. It was a big opportunity missed and we just fell short. Hopefully in midweek we can get a win and it will start a run for us,” Rashford told Sky Sports. “There have been other games where we have been very unlucky. It was fine margins. We can play a lot better, especially in attack. There is still a lot of work to do but I think we should win this game today.”
One of the main storylines was around Rashford’s opener and if it should have been ruled out after VAR checked a potential foul on Liverpool’s Divock Origi in the build-up. Solskjaer told Sky Sports it was not a “clear” foul and that it is a “man’s game” and he saw no issue with the goal being awarded.
Solskjaer’s switch to a 3-5-2 (or 5-3-2, whatever you want to call it) worked well and bamboozled Klopp and Liverpool, as they totally nullified Liverpool’s attacking threat from out wide until the 85th minute when Adam Lallana popped up with the equalizer.
Asked by BBC Sport if they will play the same system again, Solskjaer channeled his inner Sir Alex Ferguson and kept his cards close to his chest.
“We can do again. it was a little bit of who’s fit and who’s in form,” Solskjaer said. “Axel [Tuanzebe] was supposed to start but he was injured in the warm-up. [Marcos] Rojo played well. We don’t really have midfielders fit. We might play it again, we might not.”
Solskjaer went on to praise United’s players and lauded their “aggression, attitude and desire” as they pinned Liverpool back.
United face Norwich, Bournemouth, Brighton, Sheffield United and Aston Villa in their next five Premier League games. If they can secure four wins from that lot, they will be back on track and Solskjaer’s plan for the future is clear for all to see.
He wants his team to attack on the counter, be direct and press high. United did that against Liverpool but ran out of steam. There’s no shame in that and they deserved their point, and came so close to getting all three.