Following in his manager's footsteps, Stewart Downing has spoken out about his belief that Liverpool deserved a more positive result against Manchester United despite being outplayed for much of the match. Reality might not be in complete agreement.
Demonstrating his improved standing at the club, Stewart Downing has now become a person the club's official website likes to talk to, replacing such past luminaries as Joe Cole and Nuri Sahin. And in an attempt to use his new-found powers for good—or maybe just to try and stay on Brendan Rodgers' good side—he's now gone and talked to the club's official website about how Manchester United kind of sucked in the second half on Sunday and Liverpool deserved a better result.
"Man United have a habit of still winning even when they don't play well like on Sunday," said Downing. "In the second half they struggled but still won the game. That's something we can learn from. We need to be hard to beat when we're not at our best. When we do play well we hammer teams but when we don't play well we don't seem to get results."
The reality of the situation might not quite match up, given Liverpool played Manchester United mostly level for the final 35 minutes and were exceptionally lucky not to already be down four goals at that point. In fact, that a common theme emerging from the club in the aftermath of Sunday a sense of injustice and a feeling Liverpool were hard done by has to be at least mildly concerning, with Downing now joining his manager on the list of people who appear to not actually have seen the match despite that they were both involved in it.
"There is no point coming off saying we played really well but didn't pick up any points," he added rather more sensibly. "The big thing we've got to take from the game is that we've got to start matches like the way we played in the second half. You can't give United too much respect because they have got players who can hurt you [and] if we had started the game like we played in the second half we would have got a result."
They at least would have had a better chance at a result, but baby steps towards an acceptance of and engagement with the real world are at least better than continuing to sprint away from it. Certainly, too, Downing is right that giving too much respect to an opponent—especially when that opponent has shown they have their own very real set of problems and weaknesses—is usually only self-defeating.
"It will take time and there will be changes in and out until the manager gets his own team the way he wants it," Downing concluded. "I think the encouraging thing is that the way he wants us to pass and move, and you saw that in the second half at Old Trafford when we got in amongst them.
"The pleasing thing is that we have given them two games this season. We've lost them both but to be honest we should have got at least two draws out of them. Now we have to keep playing like we did in the second half."
For better or worse, it now appears Downing is firmly entrenched as part of that team. Hopefully, if he still is by the next time the two clubs meet, he and Liverpool can manage to come away with a result rather than just the feeling they deserved one. Especially when on the balance the probably didn't.