Thursday, November 24 2022


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Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah, center, celebrates after scoring his team’s fourth goal during the English Premier League soccer match between Manchester United and Liverpool at Old Trafford in Manchester, England on Sunday 24 October 2021 (AP Photo / Rui Vieira)

PA

There have been a selection of moments that have confirmed Manchester United’s humiliation against Liverpool.

Maybe it came with Mohamed Salah completing his hat trick in the 50th minute. Or in the celebrations as Liverpool defender Andy Robertson was repeatedly heard shouting ‘Continue’ at his teammates when they were already 5-0 without showing any mercy.

Or there was the sight of Alex Ferguson shaking his head, sighing in the Old Trafford directors’ lodge as he saw the mess unfolding in the team he had once led to so much glory. Close by was his former managerial opponent from Liverpool, Kenny Dalglish, beaming with joy.

Fewer United fans were there to witness the last embers of embarrassment on Sunday, having already booed the players at half-time.

Once Paul Pogba – United’s only change when down 4-0 at half-time for the first time in a Premier League game – was sent off for a tackle with 30 minutes remaining, supporters locals began to move away. Hundreds of people could already be seen outside the stadium, returning home to leave a scene of epic humility.

Inside, all chants were from the visiting Liverpool section, mostly to taunt Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

“Ole is behind the wheel,” they sang, mockingly adopting the manager’s praise adopted by United after being used by ex-player Rio Ferdinand.

“Ole, give us a sign,” they urged.

How long after that 5-0 rout until United say goodbye to a manager who has benefited from more than $ 500 million in player spending in three years but seems a long way from handing out a first ever trophy? Premier League since Ferguson retired in 2013 after recovering his on the 13th? Even Liverpool won the title more recently, in 2020, to end a 30-year drought.

Solskjaer was the biggest bet for the Glazer family who own the post-Ferguson nominations – David Moyes, Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho – given his lack of experience in coaching an elite club, securing this post on the basis of his status as the winning player. under the Scots.

Nostalgia can protect you from the brutal ratings of a club without a trophy since Mourinho won the Europa League in 2017.

“We know we are at the bottom,” Solskjaer said. “It can’t be worse than that.”

Even Cristiano Ronaldo’s return from Ferguson’s glory years hasn’t caused a resurgence. Late returns have masked the cracks, as Ronaldo snatching a late winner against Atalanta in the Champions League on Wednesday.

Ronaldo put the ball in the net against Liverpool, only for VAR to knock him out for offside. The 36-year-old returning hero was also fortunate enough not to be sacked for irritability, twice throwing the ball into Curtis Jones’ stomach when the whistle sounded and the Liverpool midfielder was on the grass .

“The whole performance was not good enough,” said Solskjaer. “I’ve come too far, we’ve come too far as a group. We’re too close to give up now.”

Considering the additional investment in the squad over the past year, this rout is even more crushing for Solskjaer than the 6-1 implosion against Tottenham here last October.

United’s defense was completely failing against Liverpool, conceding after five minutes. It was an abject chess scene that Solskjaer always provided little evidence he can rectify.

Salah had just received the pass from Roberto Firmino. To his left was Robertson. To his right, Naby Keita. Only Luke Shaw stood before them as the last united resistance line. The ball was passed by Salah to Keita who passed David De Gea.

It was Diogo Jota who slipped in to stab the ball over the line in the 13th from Trent Alexander-Arnold’s cross after a scuffle between Harry Maguire and Shaw.

Salah’s first of goals – allowing the striker to score in Liverpool’s 10th straight game – came after his shot was initially blocked by Maguire. The free ball fell on Keita who cut it so that Salah hit high into the net.

And just before the halftime whistle, Salah was able to send United to the break upon receiving another slice of misery after pulling away from Jota’s pass.

Whatever Solskjaer said at the break didn’t change anything. Five minutes into the second half, Jordan Henderson crossed the defense with a midline pass that Salah ran over before passing De Gea.

The only surprise was that United didn’t concede again, even after Pogba’s red card to Keita after 15 minutes on the pitch. The hosts had suffered enough. Nine games into the season, England’s record 20 champions are already seven points behind Liverpool in second place, Chelsea by another point in the lead.

It’s not like United haven’t been embarrassed like this before Solskjaer. It has been almost 10 years to the day since Manchester City won 6-1 at Old Trafford. But Ferguson’s team had won the title a few months earlier. And Liverpool are seen as a bigger rival than neighbor United.

What could save Solskjaer is that the fans have yet to turn on him, despite having a point in the last four league games.

“We apologize to the fans,” Maguire said. “It’s nowhere near good enough.”


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