Moral victories may not mean points, but sometimes, in the right circumstances, they can improve the mood and build confidence. For former Liverpool star John Aldridge, the hope is that Monday’s draw with Manchester United will end up doing just that and feeding this Liverpool side’s confidence.
Jose Mourinho and United fans celebrated the nil-nil draw as though it were a win, and for Liverpool and their fans, the message is clear: Mourinho and United fans see Liverpool as the better side. United showed Liverpool not just respect—they showed fear. Now it’s up to Liverpool to turn that into a positive.
“If there’s one thing Monday’s Anfield stalemate demonstrated, it’s that Manchester United acknowledge they are behind Liverpool,” Aldridge noted in his Liverpool Echo column following Monday night’s match. “Jose Mourinho set up his side for one thing and one thing only—not to get beat.
“Mourinho doesn’t care what people think. But if United fans want to celebrate not really having a shot on target at Anfield and leaving with a point, then that’s a good sign for Liverpool. Their approach was as though they were afraid of Liverpool. It was a world away from the teams Alex Ferguson would put out.”
Yet one has to ask, if Mourinho and United fans don’t believe they’re capable of competing with Liverpool right now, what would it take for that to change? After all, they currently have the most expensive squad in football. Mourinho was backed over the summer to bring in Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
On paper, theirs is a side that should be able to at least compete and that many United fans would have said was better than Liverpool’s heading into the season. And still they came to Anfield scared and left celebrating a nil-nil draw and a terrible, nigh-on unwatchable 90 minutes of football.
Had Louis van Gaal or David Moyes delivered such a performance, the mood would have been much different. A Ferguson side playing as United did on Monday, as Aldridge notes, would have been unthinkable. Regardless, it’s the approach Mourinho and United took. And Liverpool must take what they can from it.
“Liverpool have to learn how to deal with such opponents,” added Aldridge, “because they can expect West Brom to approach the game in exactly the same way on Saturday.”