You could sense the tides changing as Liverpool rolled out of Old Trafford on Sunday afternoon. The torch being passed on. One generation rises as another dies. Where once a mighty empire stood within the concrete walls of the Theatre of Dreams, a hollow, beaten team now lies on its knees with no one to blame but themselves.
Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool outclassed the reigning champions in every aspect of Sunday’s showdown. In typical fashion Manchester United under David Moyes lacked a sense of direction and clinicalness so common to the United of old. Slow play, no movement and a sluggish tone are common characteristics of Manchester United this season. All of which present in this game.
On the other hand Brendan Rodgers’ side were a class above even their own standards at time. Particularly defensively. Whereas Liverpool have been praised relentlessly for the combinations of their forwards this season, it was the strict discipline of the back four that shone at Old Trafford. 19 year old John Flanagan allowing no passers along the left flank. Neither Juan Mata nor Adnan Januzaj could cause any major problems against the teenager all afternoon.
Yet if we take a step back and admire the bigger picture that Rodgers has so patiently painted for the past two seasons, can we take a deeper meaning from the 3-0 win. With this, their 19th win of the league season, Liverpool now lie in second place in the Barclays Premier League table. Champions League football can be understood to be in the bag for them. Yet it is the old foe that they will be replacing, Manchester United.
Manchester United, with this, their ninth loss of the league season, lie in seventh place; fourteen points off Liverpool and eighteen points off Chelsea on top. It is understandable that David Moyes first season in charge was going to be difficult. Very difficult. However to be eighteen points off top spot, being the reigning champions, is a fall from grace to say the least. Manchester United have imploded under David Moyes this season. This being the fault of the manager or the players or both is debatable. But one thing that is evident to all is that Manchester United, having three years ago been in a UEFA Champions League final with a league title in their back pocket, have hit rock bottom.
Meanwhile at their dispence is an ever-improving, attacking Liverpool team, ready and waiting to have a go at claiming the title for the first time in 24 years. Brednan Rodgers has taken a Liverpool in decline and rejection and moulded them into a valiant and very much title-contending side. With Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge at his disposal, Rogers could quite possibly be bringing the good times back to Merseyside. Fans of Liverpool were sceptical at first, perhaps even still until the scoreboard at Old Trafford read MANCHESTER UNITED 0 – 3 LIVERPOOL FC. But now, after having their dreams dashed away year after year they now feel confident in the man they feel can bring not only European nights but perhaps, one day, the title back to Anfield.
Sir Alex Ferguson was employed at Manchester United in 1989 for one reason and one reason only – to knock Liverpool off their perch. When he retired last May, after 27 seasons in charge it can be said without doubt that he had competed that task. David Moyes was employed by Manchester United in the summer of 2013, again, for one reason – to keep the fire burning. In under one season Manchester United have fallen from current champions of the Barclays Premier League, to struggling, really struggling, to finish in a Europa League place. Where Liverpool once reigned in the 1970’s and 80’s, Manchester United took over. Where Manchester United reigned in the 1990’s and 00’s, Liverpool now, twenty four long years since last lifting the title, will fill their place again.