Stephen Hunt

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Sport - - FRONT PAGE - STEPHEN HUNT

Mour­inho will se­lect his re­li­able play­ers at An­field to­day. The ones like Va­len­cia, Rash­ford, Lin­gard and Young who he knows will put a shift in and be en­er­getic.

SHAY GIVEN and Mar­cus Hah­ne­mann were the best ‘keep­ers I played with, but they were to­tally dif­fer­ent. Shay was a bril­liant shot-stop­per who you al­ways trusted in one-on-one sit­u­a­tions and Mar­cus was the classic sweeper ’keeper.

David De Gea and Alis­son Becker are world-class goal­keep­ers, and they are also from op­po­site sides of the goal­keep­ing di­vide. De Gea is a bril­liant shot-stop­per and Alis­son can play a bit, as well as make world-class saves.

De Gea is go­ing through a dif­fi­cult stage of his Manch­ester United ca­reer and while he is ob­vi­ously good enough to come through it and move on, he must be very frus­trated with what is hap­pen­ing in front of him.

If Jose Mour­inho doesn’t know who will be play­ing in the back four how is De Gea sup­posed to know? He can­not pre­dict from one game to the next how they are go­ing to de­fend. And for a Mour­inho team that is un­heard of.

United’s back four are not a solid unit. It looks like they are play­ing in a pat­tern, but they are not in line and they are com­pletely dis­or­gan­ised. No won­der De Gea is un­der pres­sure ev­ery week.

I watched the Cham­pi­ons League game against Va­len­cia and I know United had qual­i­fied for the knock­out stages, but they were miles off where they needed to be for this game. It looked to me like they are not buy­ing into Mour­inho’s style of foot­ball, which is a strong in­di­ca­tion that the man­ager has lost the play­ers.

Mour­inho will se­lect his re­li­able play­ers at An­field to­day. The ones like Va­len­cia, Rash­ford, Lin­gard and Young who he knows will put a shift in and be en­er­getic, who un­der­stand the im­por­tance of the fix­ture and the ri­valry, and can han­dle the buzz and the at­mos­phere.

I’m not sure he will se­lect Paul Pogba, who was hor­ren­dous on Wed­nes­day. I’m a big fan of Pogba. He has the abil­ity to be one of the best mid­field­ers in the world on his day. But he strolled through the game in Spain and, if I am hon­est, he took the piss.

It looked like he is to­tally dis­il­lu­sioned and didn’t want to be there. He passed the ball for the sake of pass­ing it and didn’t even look like he wanted to do any­thing with it. I watched him closely and I would be sur­prised if Mour­inho played him against Liver­pool. I think their re­la­tion­ship has gone sep­tic.

I feel sorry for Phil Jones. I don’t think he’s that bad. His own goal the other night was typ­i­cal of his luck but he had ac­tu­ally done re­ally well to re­cover and get into po­si­tion be­fore con­ced­ing the goal. He was rash in his de­ci­sion-mak­ing but it is it easy to jump on the band­wagon and crit­i­cise him.

Mour­inho will be re­ly­ing on play­ers who are de­lighted to be play­ing for Manch­ester United and are not look­ing else­where at sup­pos­edly big­ger clubs. And I think De Gea is go­ing to be the busier ‘keeper to­day.

Alis­son’s late save against Napoli gave him the lime­light but it is ev­ery­thing that leads up to it that makes it hap­pen; how he comes off his line and deals with ev­ery­thing ef­fi­ciently, he is calm on the ball and can find passes into mid­field, just like Eder­son at Manch­ester City.

Alis­son hardly makes a mis­take, although some­times when he’s in the mood he might take chances but you never feel he’s re­ally go­ing to lose con­trol — even less so when he’s on the edge of his box.

De Gea might not have the same con­fi­dence in his pass­ing, but I would still pick him to be the bet­ter bet in oneon-one sit­u­a­tions. You don’t see De Gea play­ing as the sweeper mainly be­cause he backs him­self to make the saves. Liver­pool play more of a de­fen­sive high line and it suits Alis­son who can play out of his area.

I know they have a few in­jury prob­lems at the back, but I think the Liver­pool front three are too strong for United. Salah is on fire again af­ter his hat-trick last week and the win­ner against Napoli, but even when he was sup­posed to be strug­gling he didn’t shirk re­spon­si­bil­ity. He is a key team player and hasn’t poi­soned the team with his frus­tra­tions.

Then look at Alexis Sanchez who sulks and throws his arms around in dis­gust when things don’t go his way. You al­ways have a good feel­ing around Salah who looks on edge and dan­ger­ous and wants to do the right thing for his team.

Sané will miss chances be­cause he is not a nat­u­ral fin­isher, but he has fright­en­ing raw pace and skill and he ter­ri­fies the op­po­si­tion. I am sure Va­len­cia will have his hands full to­day.

Pogba strolled through the game in Spain

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