Manchester United produced what could very well be their worst performance in the club’s history on Sunday afternoon, with Liverpool trouncing their Manchester rivals by an inexplicable 7-0 scoreline in the Premier League.
Despite an expected energetic start from the home side, the visitors held out for the majority of the first half before Cody Gakpo’s 43rd minute opener. The Dutchman was heavily linked to a move to Old Trafford in the last two transfer windows, but he finessed it beyond David De Gea with ease following Fred’s costly trip.
The goal came as a sucker punch for Erik ten Hag’s men who had created some opportunities of their own, the standout being Bruno Fernandes’ diving header that trickled agonisingly wide following Diogo Dalot’s cross.
The Red Devils’ hopes of a fightback were diminished within the first five minutes of the second half when Darwin Nunez bundled a header home from close range before Gakpo netted his second of the afternoon just moments later with the cutest of dinks over De Gea on a tight angle.
Things went from bad to worse for a shellshocked United side when the ball awkwardly deflected off substitute Scott McTominay into the path of Mohammed Salah, who lashed it in off the crossbar with a central volley. It was probably the stuffier of the seven strikes, with McTominay having made a great interception just before the unfortunate deflection in the 66th minute.Embed from Getty Images
The depressing stuff was yet to come for travelling Reds fans. Nunez floated a header blissfully into the top corner in the 75th minute to get his second of the match.
Salah had the bit between his teeth after equaling Robbie Fowler’s record number of Premier League goals for the Merseyside club, and the Egyptian went and broke the long-standing record with the help of some lousy United defending in the 83rd minute. Luke Shaw’s aimless clearance fell right to Salah who tucked it home with ease.
“We want seven” was the chant ringing around The Kop, and seven was exactly what the home fans were given when Roberto Firmino came off the bench to slot his side into an unprecedented advantage that will go down in the history books.
Final Score: Liverpool 7-0 Manchester United (Gakpo 43’ 50’, Nunez 47’ 75’, Salah 66’ 83’, Firmino 88’)
Man of the matchEmbed from Getty Images
If you take away the second half demolition, Martinez was relatively solid in the first forty-five. The Argentine dealt with a lot of what came at him, but in truth, he was woeful after the interval, as were the rest of them.
The bigger pictureEmbed from Getty Images
What can be said about that?
The first half was not too bad in all honesty. Liverpool were bettering United in possession and intensity, but the game was probably equal in terms of chance creation. The first goal meant United had a big job to do in the second half, but after a quick blitz from Nunez and Gakpo, followed by Salah’s strike, heads just went down at Anfield.
It was a true and utter capitulation. Every bit of fight and determination was gone, right the way through from young novice Alejandro Garnacho off the bench to seasoned winner Raphael Varane. Not one player was at the races in that second forty-five. It says a lot when the camera panned to Martinez, Casemiro and Rashford on the bench having all been hooked off.
The defeat is crippling and an embarrassment to the club. It will be very interesting to see what the club’s open response will be, the response of Ten Hag in his interviews, and the players’ response on the football pitch.
There is not a whole lot to say about the bigger picture. Supporters ought to just hope that the humiliation does not affect performances in the near future.
Although, questions do need to be asked about the mentality within the squad. Ten Hag has done wonders in relation to the mentality of the players, but that is the third time this season that the team have completely fallen apart. Brentford 4-0, Manchester City 6-3, Liverpool 7-0. Fans can praise the progress at the club quite rightly, but those results are absolutely nothing short of a disgrace. Remember, Brentford scored all those goals inside the first half, and Man City went 6-1 up in that game; when the going gets tough, United get going when they concede quickfire goals.
Next up for Ten Hag and United is Real Betis in the Europa League Round of 16 on Thursday 9th March, kicking off at The Theatre of Dreams at 20:00 (BST).
After that, it is Southampton at home in the Premier League on Sunday 12th March, kicking off at 14:00 (BST).