Team vs individuals

Paul Scholes is one of the best pundits out there when it comes to football.

I’ve seen enough former Manchester United players cranked up on emotions. I’m not particularly fond of Liverpool pundits doing it either, or any ex players of any team for that matter.

But Scholes saw how Manchester United played against Atalanta and straight away saw the warning signs and made an objective observation on BT.

And he was so right!

And I couldn’t be more delighted. I’m a Liverpool FC supporter in case that’s not obvious.

I watched the game in utter delight but also bafflement. There’s never been such a glaring disparity between the two rivals. 5-0 does say some of it but the manner in which Liverpool won and Manchester United lost is also extraordinary.

And the analysis has become more like a post mortem when it has come to the latter team.

You can certainly look at the tactics and take issue at the Red Devil’s half hearted attempt at pressing, gaping holes in defence, and calamitous errors but fundamentally, you have a team of individuals verses the best Liverpool team I have ever had the joy of watching.

And Man U supporters and pundits were rubbing their hands when they saw no Fabinho or Matip or Mane before the game but that didn’t matter, and here’s why.

Because Liverpool play as a team with a cohesive system, a well drilled squad so whenever anyone else steps into a position, they can fulfil the job. Henderson bossed midfield, Jota and Keita got involved with a goal and assist each and Konate was cool and collected in defence.

They have a world class manager in Klopp who I run out of words to praise his demeanour on and off the pitch.

And then there is Salah, who is currently the best player in the world and puts himself in a very strong negotiation position with his contract, courtesy of a hat trick, but that’s only part of the story. Every single player representing Liverpool yesterday made that win happen and no matter if you are the best player or were the best player in the world, you can’t win consistently without the collective in football. Everyone deserves praise at LFC for yesterday’s chapter for the history books.

Manchester United on the other hand need reflection, and I respect opposing sides but my patience ran thin when Pogba dives in for a red and plenty of other players were lucky to walk away with just yellows.

And Ronaldo’s sore loser antics with Curtis Jones is one of the reasons I have always rated Messi higher in my books.

I feel for Van De Beek and especially Sancho, who was chased by the club in comedically embarrassing fashion for two years only to be shafted by a veteran legend who steers the reins by emotion above all else.

Which leads me on to the wider point.

Ego and individualism is worth putting aside sometimes for the collective effort and reward involved with being a team. Objectivity is sometimes the better thing to consider than subjectivity. What’s the philosophy, what’s the plan moving forward and how do you (as in we) achieve it?

And if you can answer those with clarity, conviction and quality, you have a chance at being competitive.

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