1. It was the talking point before the game and it is, unfortunately, still the talking point after the game. The audacity that Suarez had to refuse Patrice Evra’s hand in the symbolic handshake was an utter disgrace.
What right does the guilty party have to refuse a handshake from the victim, especially in a case as public and as sensitive as this racism row. Suarez set the tone for a ferocious affair that was full of emotion and tension from the first whistle.
Tempers boiled over at half time as a tunnel scuffle allegedly forced the police to get involved and after the final whistle, some over-exuberant celebrations from Patrice didn’t help to settle the affair.
It should be noted that I think Patrice had the right to celebrate like he did. He was at home and wanted to celebrate with the fans in a victory that clearly meant a lot to him. I don’t condone the fact that he did it right in front of Suarez, he shouldn’t of done that, but he had bottled up everything since Suarez was banned and it was simply an explosion of emotion.
Dalglish, however, in the post-match interview, dragged himself into a shameful pit. When cornered by Geoff Shreeves, he pulled out the Wenger “I didn’t see it card” and still adamently deflected blame as far away from Suarez as possible. Quite what the next step is for Liverpool, Suarez and Dalglish is anybody’s guess because it is now simply embarrassing.
2. Our inability to defend set pieces. The main vulnerability in United’s defence was again exploited yesterday after an Adam set-piece rebounded off of Ferdinand onto a plate for Suarez to nick a goal for Liverpool. We cannot seem to organise ourselves at set-pieces as has been the case against Newcastle and Liverpool, for example, ever since Vidic has been injured.
Jonny Evans may well have had a great game personally yesterday but our vulnerability in aerial duels will continue to leak goals for us unless we sort out our organisation. Some work definitely needs to be put it on the training ground.
3. What are we going to do without Scholes? Tom Cleverley was supposed to make his return at the game yesterday but Scholes and Giggs both managed to last the full 90 minutes in a heated affair. When United went 2-0 up, we switched to auto-pilot as Scholes dictated the passing and simply controlled the tempo of the game. It was a joy to watch from the midfield maestro and he should of scored after the move of the game saw Giggs dropped a cross onto his forehead but his effort was straight at Reina.
Paul will only be here for another few months and although Cleverley has now returned to fitness, it would be unfair and unreasonable to think that he could simply step in and replace what Scholes brought to the club.
We simply have to dip into the transfer market this summer. The fact that Scholes had to come out of retirement is a case in point that we are drastically weak in the creative midfield department but I think SAF cannot ignore it for any longer.
4. Welbeck the work-horse. Yesterday, I was particularly impressed by the performance of Danny Welbeck despite the fact that he didn’t manage to get on the score-sheet.
I don’t think anybody in the Premier League has a higher work rate than Danny. Every time he finds himself off the ball, he runs around like a lapdog to try and regain possession.
Added to his fantastic work rate, his link-up play with Rooney was effortless. The one-touch football that United had yesterday was some of the best we had played this season. I raised an eyebrow at the choice to leave Hernandez on the bench after his performance against Chelsea but I was once again left eating my hat. The choice to play Welbeck meant that United looked to play football patiently in the build-up rather than looking for the through ball to send Hernandez through on goal.
5. The vocal support. Yesterday was the loudest I have heard Old Trafford for as long as I can remember, and it was absolutely fantastic. The walls were vibrating for the whole 90 minutes.
It was always going to be a passionate and loud affair, such was the context of the game, but it angers me that we can’t have that at every home game. United’s away fans are famously vocal in their support all around the country but time and time again, you could hear a pin drop in Old Trafford.
If the United support could get back to their old ways in terms of stadium atmosphere, it would help the team massively this season. We have struggled at home in terms of results and have found our best performances coming away from home. If we are going to fully challenge City in the run-in, we cannot slip up at Old Trafford.