Liverpool’s second-half showing at Manchester United proved it can compete with the best in the Barclays Premier League, according to Stewart Downing – but the Reds must serve up that style of football on a regular basis if they’re to ascend the table.
Brendan Rodgers’ side found themselves two goals down at Old Trafford on Sunday before Daniel Sturridge’s goal helped them dominate the final stages of the contest.
Indeed, Liverpool were unfortunate not to return to Merseyside with a point — and though naturally disappointed by the outcome, Downing believes the performance bodes well for the future.
However, the winger insists the Reds must reproduce similar displays on a regular basis.
“For us it’s a case of consistency,” Downing said. ”Man United have a habit of still winning even when they don’t play well like on Sunday. 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.
“There is no point coming off saying we played really well but didn’t pick up any points. 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. Once [Robin] Van Persie put them ahead it was difficult for us. But if we had started the game like we played in the second half we would have got a result.”
The defeat at Old Trafford means Liverpool is still awaiting its first win against the teams currently in the top six this season.
However, the Reds have turned in several highly impressive displays against the sides at the summit — and Downing believes they have demonstrated they can be more than a match for anyone in the division.
“It will take time and there will be changes in and out until the manager gets his own team the way he wants it,” he added. ”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.
“When you look at the league table, if you get a few good results you can jump up quickly. It was big opportunity and we didn’t take it. But Old Trafford is a tough place to play and not many teams will go there and win.
“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.”