1. After Sunday’s embarrassing derby day defeat against Manchester City, United needed to bounce back with a result against Liverpool last night in the cup. Having picked up just one point from our three tough games against Chelsea, Liverpool and City (something Sir Alex Ferguson has also been guilty of in the past, lest we forget), the doom merchants were out in full force. It’s only the League Cup and it won’t make or break our season, but the team needed to a result to take some of the pressure off. It’s always great getting one over on those scouse bastards but it was especially important yesterday.
2. The news that Wayne Rooney, who has spent the summer in silence whilst plotting a transfer to Chelsea, was to captain the side was met with surprise. Still, he’s scoring and/or assisting goals in every game he plays in this season, and as one of the most experienced players in the starting XI (Giggs aside), it was seemingly an obvious choice for David Moyes. You have to now presume that there is truth in reports that the club are ready to offer him a new contract. Rooney had another good game though, forcing a few top saves, and it was his corner which set up the only goal of the game.
3. Javier Hernandez had a fairly quiet game, which is often the case these days, but he was in the right place at the right time, which, again, is also often the case. His movement in the box is incredible and he managed to shrug off his marker with ease. It wasn’t a simple tap in for him though. He showed great athleticism to get on the end of the ball in and was too close to goal to give the keeper time to react. It’s great to see him on the scoresheet again.
4. Whilst Rooney and Chicharito’s contribution can’t be ignored, it was Chris Smalling’s performance that impressed me the most. He was solid in the first half, when Liverpool were at their strongest, and managed to pinch the ball off their attacking players time and again. He’s really coming in to his own and if he can avoid any more injuries he’s surely got to be making Rio Ferdinand fear for his starting place.
5. The atmosphere, particularly in the final ten minutes, was something to behold. After Giggs called on the fans to increase the volume, even the South stand were on their feet singing! “David Moyes’ red and white army!” was chanted on repeat, getting louder and louder as the time ticked away. It’s great to see the fans get behind the team and manager. “I thought it was a brilliant atmosphere at Old Trafford tonight,” Moyes said afterwards. “I’ve come to a lot of games here before but tonight was a brilliant atmosphere.” You imagine that Fergie, who urged us to back the new manager in his final speech, will have been delighted. It’s still strange not singing his name in that chant though.
6. It was great to see Adnan Januzaj given another opportunity to impress and even better that he managed to play well again. He looks so confident on the ball and it bodes well that Moyes is willing to give him chances.
7. United started the game strongly but let Liverpool back in to during the first half. After the restart we were clearly the better team though and we got the right result. It’s baffling how we can go from the super display against Leverkusen, to that embarrassing performance at City, to the control we exerted in the second half last night. This was just the result that Moyes needed though and with a kind draw for the next round, hopefully he’ll have more opportunities to experiment with the squad.