Erik ten Hag accused Manchester United of unprofessionalism after they suffered a humiliating and historic 7-0 defeat at arch rivals Liverpool.
The United manager was seething following a disgraceful second-half performance from his team in which Liverpool ran riot, scoring six times to add to Cody Gakpo’s opener before the break and increasing their Champions League qualification hopes.
Mohamed Salah scored twice to become Liverpool’s leading goalscorer in the Premier League era while Gakpo and Darwin Nunez also scored twice each. Roberto Firmino, given a rousing reception after it emerged he intends to leave Anfield on a free transfer this summer, came off the bench to complete the record breaking rout.
It was Liverpool’s biggest victory over their great rivals, surpassing a 7-1 win in the second division in 1895. The result also equalled United’s worst ever defeats – 7-0 against Blackburn in 1926, Aston Villa in 1930 and Wolves in 1931 – and was the Old Trafford club’s heaviest loss for 92 years. An embarrassed Ten Hag did not spare his players from cutting criticism in a post-match dressing down.
“It is quite obvious, it was unprofessional. First half, I think we were the better team – we created the better chances and had two one-on-ones with the goalie,” Ten Hag said after the game.
“Before half-time we made one organisational mistake and conceded a goal. We were in the game. It really surprised me after half-time, we gave the game [away] so quickly.
“The first two goals were defensive transition moments, the first was a turnover and the second was a counter, bad decisions and decisions on the ball. How we conceded the goal is really annoying. The third was a counter with unprofessional decisions – not following in, and then running in, moving forwards, giving space away in midfield, not tracking back.
“So then it is 3-0 and the game is lost, but as a team you have to stick together. That is what we didn’t do. It is a surprise for me, I didn’t see this from my team. I don’t think it is us. I don’t think it is Manchester United. It was really bad, really poor.”
Ten Hag admitted he had given a similarly damning appraisal to his players in the dressingroom. Asked whether United’s players had given him an explanation for their disintegration, the Dutch coach said: “No. I didn’t give them the chance until now. We will talk about it. I have given them my opinion about it. We will talk about it tomorrow, but I know this team will reset and we have to bounce back. We have shown in the past we can.”
Jürgen Klopp described Liverpool’s record victory in the fixture as a “freak result, top performance”, and admitted it was one of his team’s finest displays of the season.
The Liverpool manager said: “The way we started the game was really special. We were aggressive, played good football, were super active and the goal before half-time was sensational. I don’t think the second half could have started any better, super goals and from then on the boys were flying.
“It was one of the best performances for a long, long time. Everybody saw how good the boys can be. No one was doubting Darwin’s future impact. Cody plays in the most difficult area in the pitch against a man marking side, which is super tricky, Mo is Mo, Harvey [Elliott] played a top game the other night against Wolves and had the highest counter pressing number of any player in the Premier League.
“Hendo [Jordan Henderson] – incredible performance. Robbo was the flying Scotsman. Nothing happened but we have to make these results count.”
Klopp paid tribute to Salah after he replaced Robbie Fowler as Liverpool’s leading Premier League marksman with 129 goals. The Egypt international was presented with a “129″ shirt by his team-mates in the dressingroom after the rout.
“Mo achieved something really, really special,” the Liverpool manager added. “We should not forget that just because we are used to him scoring so many goals. He is a special player and a special boy.”
Salah admitted it was a proud moment to reach the milestone. “It’s very special, I can’t lie,” said the striker. “It was always in my head since I came here. I am going home with my family to have to chamomile tea and celebrate.” – Guardian