Erik ten Hag was scathing in his assessment of his Manchester United team, calling his players “unprofessional” on three separate occasions after conceding their joint heaviest defeat in the competition, a 7-0 win over Liverpool.
United conceded six goals in a thrilling second half at Anfield in which the visitors looked a far cry from the side who had won 16 of their 20 games since the World Cup as Cody Gakpo, Darwin Nunez and Mohamed Salah all scored twice. Ten Hag’s side had a few moments in the first half when they tested Liverpool’s goal but seemed to lose all courage for the fight as goals rained down on their great rivals.
“I have no explanation,” Ten Hag told Sky Sports. “In the first half we were in control. In the second half we conceded two goals at the beginning. There was no team left. We didn’t stick to the plan. There were 11 individuals. It’s really bad. I gave my opinion [to the players].
“It was unprofessional. You always have to stick together as a team. We didn’t do that. There was no discipline. You can have setbacks, but you have to stick together and do your job. We made the wrong decisions I’m unprofessional. I’m really disappointed and angry. We let our fans down. As a team, as a team, you can’t allow that. You have to stick together and support each other and fight for each other. You have to defend yourself We didn’t do that and that’s really unprofessional for me.
“We’ve made a lot of progress but you see what happens when you don’t meet the standards. What I said in the dressing room is that this is unacceptable. But it’s also just a game. We will bounce back.”
Perhaps nobody embodied the feeling United’s minds had become quite the same as captain Bruno Fernandes, who appeared to be faking injury on more than one occasion and reacted angrily after harmless challenges. When Anthony Elanga replaced Marcus Rashford in the 85th minute, Fernandes appeared to gesture at the bench and ask why he wasn’t being substituted.
Former United captain Gary Neville said: “There were things I saw in that second half that were a shame and I’ll start with Bruno Fernandes because I’m sick of him throwing his arms around his team-mates , I was fed up with him not running back, he whines at everyone, he got hit in the chest and fell to the ground holding his face.
“He has to show the performance of a captain out there. That was not the performance of a Manchester United captain.”
The anger at Manchester United was only matched by the cheers that engulfed Anfield after their biggest win over their great rivals. A win made all the sweeter as Salah scored his 129th Premier League goal, the highest goal scored by a Liverpool player in the competition. Jurgen Klopp’s side are now fifth, three points behind Tottenham with a game in hand. Suddenly even the gap of seven points on United, which is third in the table, looks manageable.
“We need results and performance and tonight we have both,” Klopp told the BBC. “The start of the game was super dominant and super flexible.
“A few months ago everyone thought it was a good moment to play Liverpool – you can’t say it publicly but everyone thought so – because they felt we were struggling a lot but now it’s less of a good moment as we look a lot more like ourselves. It is important that everyone knows that we are here and we are still alive.”