Keeshaanan Sundaresan believes that while United did secure three points against Liverpool, their flaws in midfield were too evident in the second half
Let’s fire away. It was nothing short of a spectacular win. I mean, a win against Liverpool will always be spectacular for the Red Devils, regardless of the score line. We dominated the first half, passed the ball around well, and carved out key chances.
One of those chances was converted into a goal brilliantly by Robin van Persie, but United didn't stop just there. We continued pressing with our forward play. Michael Carrick kept the United midfield ticking, while Cleverley supplied us with energy down the middle of the park. But it wasn't completely on us.
Liverpool played their part too. Brendan Rodgers men were too slow in possession and Joe Allen looked lost alongside a player of similar characteristics, Lucas. They showed no real urgency and Sir Alex's men were given too much of space to roam around and as a result, they went into half time with a one goal lead.
But here is where the game changed, with Sturridge coming on in place of Lucas after the break. His arrival added tenacity into their play as the Reds began to push up further on the field. Well we did double the lead through Patrice Evra, but keep in mind that Liverpool pegged back almost immediately through the ex-Chelsea man and continued to dominate play for the rest of the half.
So what exactly went wrong for the Red Devils? Was it a loss of concentration? Or was it plainly complacency? I have a different explanation to this. An explanation to something that has been missing in United's midfield all these years. A cordae tendineae.
During my high school years, I picked up the term 'cordae tendineae' from biology, which is in fact an ultra-strong tendon that acts as a connection for papillary muscles to the mitral valve and tricuspid valve in our heart. Now out of all terms, this one particular term caught my attention. I was a huge fan of Roy Keane, who was nothing short of a cordae tendineae for us.
He had this rage for perfection within him. He drove the team forward under every single circumstance. Showed zero tolerance for sub-standard performances and most importantly inspired Old Trafford as a leader. So much so, that Roy Keane reached an epiphany during their Champions League clash against Juventus in 1999.
"The minute he was booked and out of the final he seemed to redouble his efforts to get the team there. It was the most emphatic display of selflessness I have seen on a football field," Sir Alex proudly said of the Irish man.
This is what we have been missing in United all these years. Now the Cristiano Ronaldo years were a little different as his sheer magic was more than enough to put things into perspective for the Red Devils. But you don't always get Ronaldos in your team and when he left, it exposed the bigger hole in United's midfield.
Relating back to game earlier today, Carrick and Cleverley were fantastic in their roles, but that was probably about what you could expect from them. However when Liverpool raised the tempo after the break, we had no answers to it. They tore us apart in midfield, and there was barely anyone to get stuck in and lift the team up.
Now this isn't the first time and will not be the last time either. If you look back at the games against Tottenham Hotspur and Newcastle United, it was the same issue. Spurs have a very physical midfield in the form of Dembele, Sandro and Dempsey and these guys outclassed us in the middle of the park. Similarly, Newcastle did it without Cheik Tiote, Yohan Cabaye and even Hatem Ben Arfa.
Have you been wondering why we concede too many goals this season? In the previous seasons, we have always depended on our wingers to craft open chances, and we had a specific set of formation to complement Wayne Rooney's strength. Thus, there was never a real need for the traditional defensive midfielder.
However with the arrival of Shinji Kagawa and Robin van Persie, Sir Alex has altered and added a new dimension to our attacking play, which pretty much exposes the big hole in midfield. And to go with this, we need an achor in midfield, which seems to be missing at the moment.
Carrick is brilliant and Cleverley was outstanding again today. But both this men aren't quite the type of players that will reflect the attitude of Sir Alex Ferguson's longevity on the field. Roy Keane was, and that is why we miss him incredibly.
Regardless, the call for a cordae tendineae has been revived.