There are some things that no Manchester United manager can allow, and losing to Manchester City and Liverpool in the space of four days is pretty high up that list of the forbidden. It will be some relief to David Moyes that he does not have to wake up this morning to find out how consecutive defeats to those two old enemies feels. Beating Liverpool in the third round of the Capital One Cup will not solve all the problems that Moyes faces in pulling together the beginning of the post-Sir Alex Ferguson era, but it sure as hell gives him some room to breathe. In the days that followed the 4-1 defeat to City on Sunday, it must have felt suffocating at times for the Scot but, at last, he has his first significant scalp as United manager.
As the red smoke of the flares hung over Old Trafford and Liverpool, who had some good periods in the game, threw everything at United in the closing stages, Moyes will have felt much of the tension and excitement that comes with this job. The edge of that technical area can be the loneliest of places, but when United are closing out a win it must feel like the job that he has worked for all his life.
There were times when he must have wondered. Brendan Rodgers picked arguably the best team he had at his disposal. On the other hand, Moyes, without the injured Robin van Persie, chose a mix of first-team regulars and fringe players like Nani, Shinji Kagawa, Alexander Buttner and Jonny Evans. It was a risk but Javier Hernandez’s goal just after half-time was enough for United.
For Rodgers, with Luis Suarez back in the side, this felt like an opportunity missed. Twice his side struck the frame of United’s goal and they had the best of much of the first half but they could not push their advantage in those periods. It was not a pretty game at times and it was hard to pick an outstanding figure but Phil Jones’ work in front of the back four was excellent and will have caught the eye of Roy Hodgson. the independent