After going on a losing run with many of those bets losing when going against Man United I fell into the gambler’s trap of looking for certainty in an outcome and was very lazy in my thinking.
Liverpool humiliated Man United yesterday 7-0 (3.44 v 0.84 xG). It was a stunning result. But one where it was not wholly unpredictable. I mean that in the sense that United form was going to have a collapse in performance at some point given the sheer number of games they have played this year, literally a game every three or so days.
Ten Hag’s philosophy means that he prefers to keep a winning team, so little rotation. I had bet against United a month ago on the basis that tiredness might creep in. However, that didn’t happen that game and they played eight more games after that, winning six and drawing two.
I also felt that Ten Hag was watching the sport science data closely to see if any of his players were tiring and in need of a rest and if so he could rest them if he had too. However, there isn’t any sport science for mental fatigue.
The run of big games can also hide tired legs as players increase their performance levels as they set their sights on achieving their ambitions such as getting to the League Cup Final and winning it; beating Barcalona in the UEFA Cup as well as thinking they were in with a chance of winning the English Premier League this season.
They got through all those games and it began to look like Ten Hag had created a machine that really clicking into gear and was able to grind out results. You could say in their last six games they were somewhat fortunate to get the results they did as the teams they were playing missed a number of chances at decisive moments during the game.
Examples of this can be found in the Leeds, Leicester league games, the first Barca game as well as the League Cup Final against Newcastle and in the midweek game against West Ham. Liverpool though were quitely on the rise…
They had more breaks between their games, they had more players coming back from longer term injury, they had the hurt of their underperformance this season and their own humiliation in their second last home games to Real Madrid. Klopp said he could see their performance levels improving in the Wolves games where they won 2-0.
During the first half of the United game it was very close, particularly on xG. However, the dynamics of the games changed in the second half, when United went looking for a higher gear when none was to be found, while Liverpool when looking for higher gears and found three.
What Can Be Learned?
Ten Hag looked rattled in the interview after the game. I can only imagine the shouting match that went on in their dressing round after the game. It will be interesting to watch how their key defensive players perform in the coming games such as Casemiro and Varane. They are big characters so should step up but lets see how the morale in the camp is now.
They will also be increasingly tired with the long run of matches and I’m sure there will be players playing with minor injuries. On top of that did Klopp’s team give clues to other teams how best to get at this United team?
With only the FA Cup and UEFA Cup realistically to play for now, will that be enough motivation for their top players? Liverpool are only seven points behind them in the league and will be hunting them for a top four place too. That will bring its own pressure.
In addition, the uncertainty of the takeover means that forming transfer plans for bringing players in might add to the frustration. And Rashford still has yet to sign a new deal.
This run United have gone on reminds me of the runs of Mourinho and Ole, which looked like their were making progress but the behind the scences hassles dragged them back into mediocraty. Has Ten Hag just got a bounce out of the players for adding a level of struture and organisation as well as a post Ronaldo bounce?
Time will tell but I am not optimise for them, especially given that other clubs are being funded to compete with them and do not have the legacy pressures that come with this Man United side, with greats in the Boardroom and on the TV panels judging this team against their teams, which is never a fair comparison.
Key players in this side like Casemiro are also at their peak but will not be replaced. Selling the likes of Fred or McTominay may only make the squad lighter if the right transfers do not come in. And with so much spent on transfers last summer, that might leave the situation even more difficult for Ten Hag next year.
The bank is now at €76. I need to take each bet seriously.