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Dublin: 5°C Friday 4 December 2020

The Watercooler: plenty of talking points after a weekend of full-blooded football

Paul Ring rakes over the main talking points from the weekend, much like Jamie Carragher’s studs on Nani’s leg.

Image: Peter Byrne/PA Wire/Press Association Images

A tale of two men as Liverpool win the big one

Dirk Kuyt will wake up this morning with a place in Liverpool folklore secured. The Dutchman scored a hat-trick in the Merseysiders comprehensive 3-1 win over Manchester United at Anfield yesterday. Kuyt has often been a much-maligned figure and has always been an under-rated player.

David Winner, author of the Dutch football bible Brilliant Orange described Kuyt’s performances in last year’s World Cup as extraordinary. His unceasing work rate is his trademark but there is much more to him than that. He will not score three easier goals than he did yesterday but few can begrudge him his moment in the sun.

While Kuyt grabbed the match ball it was Luis Suarez who took the breath away with some of his invention and running. Whether it was collecting the ball deep and running past players or instigating little triangles around the edge of United’s box,  the Uruguayan was nigh on unplayable at times. His bewitching run in the lead-up to the opening goal was the highlight of the match and hints at a very bright premier league career.

United wobbling at the wrong time

During Manchester United’s last title-winning season they lost two games on the bounce in March. One was a humiliating defeat to Liverpool, while another was a loss in London compounded by a silly red card. Sound familiar? But United had Cristiano Ronaldo to call upon in 2009 and they had a fit Rio Ferdinand and a functioning midfield.

They are blessed that they do not have a battle-hardened unit chasing them down as Arsenal conspire to stay away from the top but United are there for the taking in the coming weeks. They do not have a central midfielder playing well and any pace around Michael Carrick and Paul Scholes leaves them exposed as Liverpool brutally showed yesterday.

Van Gaal on the brink

Regular readers will recall how this column has been a little worried for the future of Louis Van Gaal at Bayern Munich for some time now. After capitulating to leaders Broussia Dortmund last week Bayern meekly went down 3-1 away to Hannover on Saturday.

The whispers from the German press are that Bayern directors Karl Heinz Rummenigge and Uli Hoeness have made up their minds to fire Van Gaal but they will have to wait until the summer because some of their preferred targets are not available.

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So Bayern are left with a man they do not want trying to guide them into the champions league places and past Inter Milan in the same competition. The final is being played in Munich in 2012 and the prospect of Bayern not even being in the mix is an unthinkable one.  Squeaky bum time in Bavaria.

The Old Lady continues to fall

Juventus lost on Saturday night to league leaders A.C Milan at home. The fact that it was no surprise demonstrates just how far the Old lady of Italian football has fallen. Calciopoli and Luciano Moggi was of course the crash that they have yet to recover from but five years on from that they don’t even look like they could return to where they belong.

Anyone who watched that Juve side in the nineties, marshalled by Marcelo Lippi, with a midfield four of Conte, Deschamps, Davids, and  Zidane could barely believe just how far they have fallen. Alessandro del Piero was striker in that great team and every so often he is summoned to rescue them. His appearances now are a mere fleeting reminder of a once great club.

League of Ireland takes off

Taking the first tentative steps towards summer, the League of Ireland kicked off over the weekend with champions Shamrock Rovers beating Dundalk 3-1 thanks to two goals from Gary Twigg.  St Pat’s laid down a marker with a 3-0 win away at Galway while in the First Division Cork City got off to a winning start with a 1-0 win at home to Wexford Youths.

You get the sense the league needs a quiet, restorative season. With matters on, not off the field dominating the headlines.

What did you take from the weekend’s action? Are United throwing it away? Are Rovers too strong again this season? Should Carra have walked?

Read Alan Smith’s League of Ireland column later this morning | Check out all our build-up to the Airtricity kick-off

About the author:

Paul Ring

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