'That is not Manchester United': Erik ten Hag reacts to 7-0 Anfield thrashing
Liverpool maintained their push towards the UEFA Champions League spots with an outrageous 7-0 win over rivals Manchester United at Anfield, in one of the most stunning results the Premier League has ever seen.
Cody Gakpo, Darwin Nunez and Mohamed Salah all scored braces, while Roberto Firmino also put the icing on the cake for Jurgen Klopp with a goal to make it seven, as Liverpool made a statement as their great run of domestic form continued.
However, it was the complete opposite for United, as Erik ten Hag's side completely crumbled after an impressive opening half that saw them miss a couple of clear-cut chances, most notably to Marcus Rashford and Bruno Fernandes, before they conceded right before half-time. The second half was a complete disaster from United, as they failed to get out of the blocks, and simply gave up when Liverpool made it 3-0 very early on.
This defeat means that United's jubilation following the Carabao Cup win has all died down, as their place in the top four seems to have come under question due to the gap from fifth being reduced to seven points.
Following the defeat, Ten Hag voiced his displeasure both at the result, and the manner of the performance in the second set of 45 minutes, saying: "You can lose a game, but not in this way."
"The second half is, unprofessional. That is not Manchester United," he said, before adding that they "let the fans down".
"We will bounce back," he continued, but said that "this is not the Manchester United of the last weeks. A determined team with self-reflection. I didn't see it back today".
"I said what I had to say to the players. I am curious about their interpretation of the game. I am surprised because I have seen the last weeks and months this team has been resilient and has a winning attitude. Second half we didn't have a winning attitude at all. We didn't stick to the plan and we didn't do our jobs," he explained.
When asked whether the players gave a possible reason for their second half capitulation, that saw them concede six goals in a disastrous display, he said: "No, I didn't give them a chance."
"I have given my opinion [to the players]. You have to defend. Many things made me angry. To concede so easily goals is definitely one of them," he remarked.
The result is the heaviest league loss United have suffered in history, with the last time they conceded seven goals in the top division being 93 years ago in 1930.
Speaking on the support from United fans, he said that it was "tough" and that the team has to "thank them". "I can't blame them for leaving because it was a really bad performance. I'm ashamed myself for the fans today," he added.
This season alone, United have conceded 4+ goals on three occasions, first in a 4-0 drubbing away to Brentford, then in a 6-3 loss at the Etihad Stadium against Manchester City, and tonight at Anfield. The team's resilience at the back has been a characteristic of the side in recent months, especially since United's attack has not been fully fit and firing in the league, with them being the lowest scorers out of the current top five.
Luke Shaw, who was arguably at fault for a couple of the goals tonight, said after the game that the performance is "hard to explain". "I think the standards where we have been at, it was nowhere near it," he added.
"I feel embarrassed for the fans and the people who were watching us. I can only apologise. It's not going to be easy watching this back, but he [Ten Hag] is going to make us watch it back, and show us what we need to learn from this embarrassment," he continued.
The score might come as a surprise, but the actual result might have been coming for a few weeks now, with United massively underperforming in recent games when compared to some of their past performances this season, especially when it comes to scoring goals.
Ten Hag's team has largely depended on Rashford for goals, but he was quiet tonight, and barely had any touches to note apart from his gilt-edged chance in the first half that was saved by Alisson. Antony vanished and Fernandes was more concerned with complaining to the referee, while Wout Weghorst put in a shift, but highlighted why United still need a forward with more quality to progress further.
Games are still coming thick and fast for United though, as they face Real Betis at home in the UEFA Europa League on Thrusday, with a return to Premier League action against Southampton on Sunday.