Liverpool finally beat United in a league game under Rafa, and Robinho’s debut for City ended in defeat against the team he wanted to join. Saturday was a bad day for Manchester.
Liverpool had gone the duration of Rafa Benitez’s time at Anfield without a league win against United, and hadn’t even scored in the last five United matches, but they finally broke their duck on Saturday in the early kick off. The match came too early in the season, it was Liverpools 4th league game and United’s 3rd, to have any real significance in the title race, but what it would have done was given Liverpool the confidence to believe that they can actual feature in this seasons race, and not just talk about it. On the other hand they did comfortablybeat Chelsea last season and still didn’t feature in the title race. The feeling though in Liverpool is that this season is different, and they they now have a squad good enough to compete with United, Chelsea and Arsenal.
While Liverpool do have a stronger squad, and although Robbie Keane has yet to score, he could end up being the signing of the summer and the perfect partner for Torres, Liverpool should be more cautious then they are being. This has the potential to be yet another false dawn for the former kings of England. The worrying aspect from Saturdays match against United was that United were so poor. Liverpool were the better team and deserved their win. But they weren’t better in the sense that they were good, but rather in that United were so bad. Liverpool dominated the game but didn’t actual look like scoring any goals. It took two mistakes, the first by van der Saar and the second by Giggs, to gift Liverpool their two goals and the victory. So there is still very much for Liverpool to do if they are to mount a real challenge.
For United the path is much easier. They can not afford to defend as they did on Saturday ever again if they are to retain their title. The defending was terrible, and the two mistakes, by their two most experienced players, will not happen again. They need to bounce back immediately for they have Chelsea on Sunday and if they were to lose that they will be giving the rest a real lead and have to play catch up far earlier that they would like.
At City they talk was dominated by the clash of the cash, Chelsea v City, the two richest clubs in the world, in terms of owners wealth, and the impact that Robinho would have. Robinho was linked with Chelsea for the whole summer and wanted to go to London, but CIty offered more money, thanks to their new riches, and Robinho was off to the blue half of Manchester. As so often happens in football his debut turned out to be against the team he almost joined. It took only 13 minutes for him to make an impact as he opened the scoring with a free kick, 1-0 to City. City began to believe that they could be a force this season, that all the talk was true, and then the bubble burst. It was all Chelsea from then on and they levelled a few minutes after Robinho’s goal, and then comfortably won 3-1.
The talk of all the best players coming to CIty, of Champions League football, and title winning, is just that right now – talk. City have a long way to go. They have a good mid table squad and the addition of Robinho wasn’t going to take them that much further. They will delve into the transfer market in January, but who they want and who they’ll be able to attract and get is another story. What they need to do now is to hope to stay as close to that 4th place position as they can, and then hope that the players they bring in in January will take them up a step and get them to 4th. It’s going to be a hard job actually staying in contention for that 4thplace, but the players most know that with all the money available to Hughes they are all playing for their futures, and will have much to prove between no and January. Staying within touching distance of 4th place will go a long way to showing the boss they are good enough not to be replaced.
The hype was there, the belief maybe, but the effort was short, and in the end Saturday was a bad day for the city of Manchester.
(pic from teamtalk.com)