Manchester United 3-0 Liverpool: What Brendan Rodgers learnt

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A lot can change in nine months in football; Liverpool's 3-0 defeat to Manchester United on Sunday showed us this.

Last season, the scores were a reverse at Old Trafford, when the Reds thrashed their rivals and published themselves as real title challengers.

However, now under Louis van Gaal, United waltzed to victory thanks to goals from Wayne Rooney, Juan Mata and Robin van Persie.

The loss put further pressure on Brendan Rodgers job as Liverpool boss, as the Merseyside club now face difficult fixtures against Bournemouth and Arsenal.

Raheem Sterling Is Still Maturing

Just on the back of his 20th birthday, Sterling looked to fire his side once again to victory this season. The youngster was lively, causing plenty of problems for the United defence throughout the ninety minutes.

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He was given the responsibility of leading the Liverpool forward-line from the first whilst showing the responsibility that his manager has in the youngster. Sterling had several excellent chances for the Reds, the first coming in the 12th minute - just 25 seconds prior to Rooney's strike. 

The former QPR man was one-on-one with David De Gea and only needed to slot past the Spaniard, however, he proved his inability to shoot with his left-foot and his effort was stopped. 

If that strike had have went in, the game could have been a completely different story - the Reds would have been 1-0 up, full of confidence and maybe went on to win the game.

Sterling had another chance on his left-boot in the second-half, when he reacted to a poor  Johnny Evans back-pass and had an open goal. However, he chose to dwell on the shot, take it on his right and gave De Gea the chance to make a save.

It was an opportunity that you would expect anyone at any age to finish on their wrong foot, never mind a professional footballer.

It's something that he clearly needs to work on and will not become a great if he has this chink in his armour.

Adam Lallana needs regular football

Since his £25 million summer move from Southampton, Lallana has had a strange time at Anfield. 

He's been in and out of the team, never able to gain a regular place in Rodgers' side despite always performing up to scratch.

On Sunday, he proved his qualities and was Liverpool's best player for 45 minutes.

The 26-year-old has quick feet, able to twist and turn in any situation and won his side plenty of free-kicks and forced Marouane Fellani to go into the referee's notebook as well as several other Red Devils defenders.

Lallana showed signs of magic, that he could be the spearhead of Liverpool's revival this season.

His played Sterling in sublimely in the first-half, feeding his team-mate in perfectly and it's a shame he could not convert.

Bizarrely, the England international was dragged of at half-time for Mario Balotelli, due to a tactical change which was a strange move to say the least. 

Lallana highlighted that he can justify his big-money move but needs to be shown some faith.

You could see how eager he was to make things happen for the Reds and how hard he was working to prove a point to his manager. 

Dejan Lovren's chance has past

If the Croat thought he may have a chance of keeping his Anfield career alive, he thrown away his chance against Liverpool's bitter rivals.

Lovren has been terrible for Liverpool all season, putting in a number of under-par performances and been at the direct fault for a countless number of goals.

Sunday was no different.

His clearance in the build up for United's third goal was dreadful, gifting the ball to Mata and finished off by van Persie.

Prior to that, Lovren failed to settle at the back. He looked uncomfortable on the ball, getting rid early and not taking responsibility when he needed to.

For a defender worth £20 million, this is by far not good enough. 

He's now made two errors leading to goals and seven leading to shots on target - more than any defender in Europe.

Lovren's positional mistakes have been very visible and failed to track Mata for his goal on Sunday and left a massive gap between him and Moreno for United's first goal.

Kolo Toure has been favoured by Rodgers of late and only didn't start at Old Trafford because he was still recovering from injury. The Ivorian replaced Glen Johnson early on and brought a bit more clarity to the Liverpool back line.

The ex-Southampton practically hugs his fellow centre-back and leaves plenty of gaps for attackers to run into space.

It's a recurring problem for him and after his dreadful performance against United has surely seen him lose his chance for the near future.

A Confusing System

Throughout the game, the tone was that Liverpool did not know what role they all had to undertake. 

Steven Gerrard has played both in-front of the back-four and further forwards. With Jordan Henderson and Joe Allen joining the Liverpool centre-midfield, you'd have expected the Reds' captain to carry on playing an advanced role.

However, Gerrard was caught in between two minds. Sometimes he charged forward helping the attack, attempting to get into dangerous positions and others he sat deep attempting to protect the defence.

Moreno has played left-back since joining from Sevilla but he was lined-up in more of a left-midfield position and it exposed the left-hand side of defence, as shown through Rooney and van Persie's goals.

If Liverpool are to improve, Rodgers needs to implement a game-plan that is not too confusing for his players.

Allen was forced to fill in at left-back, partly due to Lovren's poor positioning and partly because Moreno was caught up the pitch and this made both Gerrard and Henderson be pulled out of the middle, too. 

The Thinnest Of Ice For Rodgers

Liverpool have two difficult fixtures facing them, firstly away in the Capital One Cup against in-form Bournemouth before hosting Arsenal on Sunday.

If the Reds fail to win either games, one feels that Rodgers will no longer be steering the helm at Anfield.

Since he took over the Merseyside club in 2012, he's spent £212 million. 

Liverpool are sitting mid-table in the Premier League and already out of the Champions League.

The Northern Irishman's aim when he took charge was to reach, and maintain Liverpool as a Champions League club within three years.

He achieved one year to early, but, it's looking more and more likely he will not maintain that target.

Yes, Luis Suarez has left and Daniel Sturridge has been injured for the most part this term.

However, Rodgers splashed out over £100 million this summer and bought players who are not providing.

Mario Balotelli was a gamble that has certainly not paid off and Lovren was a hefty fee not worth the money.

Lallana and Emre Can have looked like they could be a real asset in the Liverpool side if they played regularly, however they, especially the latter, barely get a look in.

There are plenty of issues that the ex-Swansea City boss has not dealt with, one being defensively. 

The Reds conceded 50 goals last season and the evidence was there to go out and get a defensive coach - he's failed to do so.

The money was there to replace Suarez's 31 top flight goals with another elite striker - he failed to do so.

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