Man United fell to Jurgen Klopp for the first time in the league after losing 3-1 to Liverpool At Anfield thanks to goals from Sadio Mane and Xherdan Shaqiri. The Red Devils got what became a consolation from Jesse Lingard in the first half. Contributing writer, Nathan Quao, observed the game and shares his thoughts.
Errors cost premium value
In a game of such importance, one would expect players to be at their best from minute one to last and give it everything they have.
But that did not happen with Man United players at Anfield. As early as the 5th minute, passes were being misplaced and control of the ball was very far from the ground.
Ander Herrera and Nemanja Matic lost the ball both under pressure and when there was no one in the adjoining spaces and that gave Liverpool the opportunity to recycle the play as many times as they wanted.
When Herrera and Matic were getting their lines right (on rare occassions), it was Jesse Lingard who was failing to get to his team-mates on the break with poor passing.
When that was not enough, there was the unnecessary holding of the ball when a simple forward pass would have done the trick for Marcus Rashford who was the only outlet available.
Then, there was Ashley Young’s ghost moment against Sadio Mane in the build up to Liverpool’s first goal.
It was really troubling watching players fail repeatedly to perform their tasks in such an important game and it all culminated in the loss.
When everything settles down on the result, the truth from the tie will be that the manager, Jose Mourinho, was very culpable on the day and his blame is premised on the second half.
Man United were very fortunate to be in the match after the first 45 minutes and they were still it until Liverpool scored to make it 2-1.
But that where the difference between Klopp and Mourinho shone through.
For Klopp, he sought the result and brought on Shaqiri to make things happen especially from a point of view of providing some unpredictability. He could take shots from distance and he could still open the Man United defence with some good passing.
Shooting the ball from distance brought the goals that made the difference for Liverpool.
On the other hand, Mourinho failed to respond to what Liverpool had done in the game and as time wore one, the Red Devils were reeling from the pressure. The manager than went on to worsen the plight of the team by bringing on Juan Mata.
The change was late in the first place but then in making that decision, there did not seem to be a shuffling of the pack to retain the shield or whatever it was that was keeping Liverpool at bay in the central areas.
Man United were not spread-eagled and Liverpool took advantage.
Mourinho may have his critics but performances like these only add more strength to the argument that Man United are way off in terms of teams wanting to succeed.
There was no shame in giving up possession to Liverpool but such a plan has a catch: one to play well on the break and to be very wise with the ball and making changes to handle the demands of the game.
And on that score, Mourinho let himself down and the team as a whole.
What happens now?
No one knows but the conversations surrounding the manager’s exit will resurrect themselves with even more strength and with the current trend of events, the manager’s departure may just be the first of the important things that must be done.
Man United need to take a decision to get out of this poor state and head in the right direction. The journey is long but most followers will be very pleased with the indication and proof some steps have been taken.
As things stand, Man United look like a ship that is anchored to an island while the other vessels are sailing away.
There are games against Cardiff and Bournemouth and those must be won but then, what kind of Man United will show up and play those games? No one knows.
Man United look really horrible now and a change is needed at a point. It is not an option. It is mandatory.