MANCHESTER: Liverpool’s 5-0 humiliation of Manchester United at Old Trafford may have marked the beginning of the end of the managerial reign of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
United’s American owners handed the Norwegian £120m to spend during the summer to close the gap on their old north-west regional rivals. But second-placed Liverpool’s victory extended the gap between them and seventh-placed United to a devastating seven points.
Mo Salah justified manager Jurgen Klopp’s description of him as the best current player in the world with a hat-trick. United’s defence, albeit missing injured Raphael Varane, was a shambles.
Their embarrassment was exacerbated by a red card for substitute Paul Pogba early in the second half. Old United hero Gary Neville, a TV analyst, described United as having “capitulated.”
The other Liverpool goals were scored by Naby Keita and Diogo Jota. They led 5-0 after 50 minutes and then, effectively, let United off the hands of an even worse nightmare. Coincidentally, this defeat came 10 years after one day after the 6-1 home defeat by Manchester City.
Salah was delighted for himself but, mostly, for the team.
The Egyptian said: “We knew they would come and try everything so we needed to dominate the game and we did it. From the beginning we tried to keep the ball as long as we could to create more chances. Personally, as long as the team keep on winning I’m more than happy.
“We won the league two years ago so we know what it takes. To win away to Manchester United is something really big but also it’s just three points. From the beginning of the season we are playing for the title because a team like Liverpool and manager like ours we have to play to win everything.”
Manager Jurgen Klopp was almost shocked by the nature of his 200th win as Liverpool manager.
He said: “What can I say? Did I expect that? No. What we did in the last third was insane. Pressing high, winning balls, scored wonderful goals. I told them at half-time to play better. We started incredibly well and stopped playing football. We controlled the game after the fifth, it was not about scoring more, just trying to get out without more injuries.
“The result is insane, I asked if there was one like this in history and if there isn’t then it will take a while. The players put a nice piece in the book. It is special but we don’t celebrate like crazy, we have respect for the opponents. We were lucky in some moments, United are not in their best moment.”
United had little to offer but apologies.
Solskjaer said: “Its not easy to say anything. It’s the darkest day I’ve had in leading these players. We were not good enough individually and as a team. You can’t give a team like Liverpool those chances – and we did.
“The whole performance was not good enough. We created openings but so did they and they were clinical. The third goal decided the game.
“It’s my responsiblility. I choose the way we approach the game. I think United should always try at home to stamp their authority on the game. The fans stayed and were fantastic and they supported the team until the end. We know we are rock bottom and cannot feel any worser than this.
Asked about his own position he said: “We are too close to give up now.”
Captain Harry Maguire added: “Apologies to the fans. It’s not good enough for this club. It’s nowhere near good enough. As a club we’ve got to do better. In the first half it was too open. We gave them too many chances.”