Manchester United captain Harry Maguire and manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer have spoken following the Red Devils’ 0-0 draw with Liverpool on Sunday and, though the result left a bit to be desired, each of the figureheads were quick to point to their side’s continued progress — particularly in comparison to their last trip to Anfield.
Having previously lost 2-0 in a game that never saw them get out of the starting blocks or believe they could compete with the eventual Premier League champions, Manchester United looked not only a side that was miles off title contention, but also one that might have a new manager the next time they visited.
Alas, Solskjaer is still the man in charge at Old Trafford and Manchester United lead third-place Liverpool by three points after 18 games this season. To hear Maguire tell it, there’s more fo a belief among the players and that breeds the bravery required to go to a place like Anfield where Liverpool are (now) unbeaten in 68 Premier League games — quotes from the BBC:
“They started better than us, but second half we came into [the game] a lot more. We created the best chances, and on another day we win.
“It was cagey. Two good teams matching up. We created openings and had two great chances, two great saves.
“There is a lot of talk of Liverpool being without their first-choice center-halves, but they’ve had a great defensive record since these injuries. They have lots of options.
“You can see our performance compared to last year when we weren’t brave at all. We were a bit timid.”
Solskjaer echoed Maguire’s general sentiments and offered a few thoughts on the proverbial next step for Manchester United if they are to become Premier League title contenders all the way to game no. 38 of the season.
“It’s only a good result if we win the next game.
“It was an opportunity missed with the chances we had but then again we were playing a very good side. I’m disappointed but still a point is OK if you win the next one.”
“It shows we’ve come [quite far] since we were here last time. We’re a bit disappointed in the performance as well, not just the result. You have to really turn up [against Liverpool] — they’re a really good side, they’ve had some injury problems today and we didn’t pounce on the opportunity the injuries gave us.
“We felt we grew into the game — for stronger and stronger, and we were closest to winning it toward the end.”
“I think it showed throughout the game that the belief grew more and more. I think the next time we play them here, for example, after this experience I think we feel we need to impose ourselves more on the game. I’m not saying take more risks, but we can do better, and that’s a good feeling to have — I know we can do better.”
While Manchester United and Liverpool will meet again in seven days in the fourth round of the FA Cup, their next Premier League date doesn’t come until the fifth-to-last game of the season, on May 1. It could be, to state the painfully obvious, a clash for the ages.