The Liverpool we knew and Man Utd we missed return for 90 minutes of sheer insanity
Manchester United are BACK! Yes, the Manchester United we have become accustomed to seeing in recent years. The 7-0 loss at Liverpool was one for the history books and talk of a quadruple lasted a grand total of seven days.
Before we get into whatever the f*** Manchester United just did at Anfield, let’s praise Liverpool for an incredible performance and win – their biggest ever against the Red Devils. The Reds were fantastic and ruthless against a woeful opponent. I have a lot of praise for them, but this is all about the shambolic display from Erik ten Hag’s side.
Manchester United ended their trophy drought last weekend before advancing to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup, meaning they went to Anfield on the highest of all highs. Unfortunately for them, they left Merseyside having been brought dramatically, embarrassingly and torturously back down to earth.
Liverpool have been far from themselves this season and Anfield has become less of a daunting arena for the rest of the Premier League and Europe; just ask Real Madrid. Manchester United, on the other hand, have been far from their selves this season thanks to a brilliant manager by the name of Erik ten Hag, who has Made Manchester United Great Again. Ten Hag has turned the Red Devils around in the blink of an eye, with much of the club’s success coming down to the astute signings he has made, something supporters have not been used to for a long time.
But not even the presence of Casemiro or Lisandro Martinez, nor the revitalised Marcus Rashford could avoid an embarrassing defeat at the hands of Liverpool. The first half was Ten Hag’s United, while the second half was Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Ralf Rangnick’s iteration.
Ten Hag and his players knew Liverpool would come out fast and they did just that, but they dealt with it pretty well. The hosts had more of the ball but struggled to look dangerous, while United looked threatening on the break and had the ball in the back of the net before the Reds, but Casemiro was miles offside. The first 40 minutes were a solid away performance against one of the big six.
Mohamed Salah was Liverpool’s best player in the opening 45 minutes but didn’t get his goal until he made it an official battering in the 76th with his side’s fourth. The Egyptian winger had no part to play in the opening goal, which was choreographed by Andy Robertson, who told Cody Gakpo – who apparently saw United as his “dream club” and was expected to join them in January – where to go, gave him the ball, and the Ten Hag’s compatriot did the rest, right before half-time.
Diogo Dalot dragged himself out of position to confront Robertson, Fred was in no man’s land as the ball slipped through to Gakpo, and Raphael Varane was made to look a fool as he chased a shadow as the January signing struck the ball into the bottom corner.
United had hope going into the second half, but their task got a lot more difficult after another former target of theirs, Darwin Nunez, found the back of the net. It was a scrappy goal, but Liverpool did not care.
And just like that it was 3-0. Gakpo was at it again with an absolutely delicious chip over David de Gea after Salah put Martinez in a spin cycle and then on his arse.
The game was over by the 50th minute; the mauling was not.
Liverpool looked good, but nobody expected what was about to come. Salah made it four with a thunderous strike with his right foot. That’s when you know it’s your day. Nunez made it five with another header before Salah became Liverpool’s all-time leading scorer in the Premier League after some more shambolic defending.
Klopp’s side weren’t done at six. Roberto Firmino came off the bench to make it seven only days after it was announced he would leave at the end of the season, eight years on from joining the club.
This was a battering. One that you wouldn’t have even expected last season, and it was pretty f***ing bad at Old Trafford last season. This is a wake-up call for Ten Hag and his players, who need to act like this result never happened.
Were they ever in the Premier League title race? United fans will tell you no, and some might be lying, while others are telling the truth amidst the enjoyment of being a competent football team for the first time in a while. It is absolutely certain that they will not be quadruple winners this season. There is no shame in that, especially when they are in a strong position to win two more trophies.
United literally didn’t go down without a fight at Anfield. Their heads fell off and remain on the Anfield turf. Luke Shaw and Bruno Fernandes were quite rightly berated by Sky Sports commentator Gary Neville – especially the latter, who acted like a baby for the vast majority of the second half, which is not what you want from your captain.
That sort of capitulation is something which Manchester United seemed to have outgrown for a long time, while that sort of result against a big six rival is something we didn’t expect to see from Liverpool between now and the end of the season. We entered a time machine for 90 minutes, and it was bloody outstanding.
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