LIVERPOOL under-23s manager Michael Beale has admitted that despite being disappointed by Tuesday night’s 1-1 draw against Manchester United, he was more than pleased with his side’s performance.
The result brought an end to his side’s impressive winning streak in the league. Harry Wilson put the Reds ahead in the first half before they were pegged back in the second, and for all their domination they couldn’t find a winner.
Speaking to The Anfield Wrap ahead of Sunday’s ‘mini derby’ between Liverpool and Everton, Beale was keen to focus on the positives from what was a frustrating night for his team.
“At 94 minutes when the referee blew the final whistle I was kicking the dugout. But actually when you sit down and watch the game back there’s a lot to be pleased about,” said Beale.
“I thought that we played some fantastic football. I thought that they’d sit in really deep and look to play on the counter attack, so we spoke about making sure that if we lost it we’d counter press really quickly and win it back and that we’d continue to play at speed, get people in the box and have lots of crosses and shots. We did all of those things. It’s just that we ran out of time.
“But after it, when you think to yourself, did we show development? Did we play well? Then yes, it was another impressive performance.”
Beale insisted that there were more positives on display during Tuesday night’s draw than in the impressive 3-0 win over Ipswich Town two weeks ago.
“Obviously, I have to weigh it up because the level of resistance from the other team is far less, but Man United was a real game. There was a lot of energy in the game and there was a lot of aggression from both teams. You could see that both teams wanted to win.
“I thought that we were the better team for the right reasons. Saying that, I have to praise United’s discipline, their work rate and their resilience. They’re obviously a well coached team and they made life really difficult for us.
“When you think of the games we played recently against Arsenal and Spurs, we were able to break through and take our chances. I thought Man United defended very strongly but that’s part of the game and I don’t think we can bemoan that because there may be a game in the future where we have to dig in.”
Liverpool were seen as favourites going into the game, due to their fine run of form and inclusion of members of the first team squad such as Mamadou Sakho, Danny Ings, Kevin Stewart and Marko Grujic, but Beale argued that this shouldn’t have been the case.
“I don’t want people saying that we should have won the game. This is a young team and aside from the senior players who have dropped down like Mamadou Sakho there wasn’t a lot of difference between the average ages of the two teams.
“Just because people know the names of players such as Trent Alexander-Arnold, Connor Randall, Ovie Ejaria, Ben Woodburn, Cameron Brannagan and Harry Wilson, doesn’t mean that they are old and that we should win the game. It just means that they’ve been involved in the first team.
“It’s away to Man United, it’s a point more than we had before the game and now we look to Everton, which is going to be a completely different test.”
The under-23s face Everton at Prenton Park on Sunday at 1pm in the Premier League 2.
Tickets are just £4 for adults and £1 for children and concessions. Members and season ticket holders can gain admission free of charge.