Manchester United produced an abject display against Liverpool to end our busy week with a defeat.
United have now lost three games out of four in the past eight days, and it will be a big positive for the players to have a break.
But before we think positively, there are a few terrible performances to dissect.
We like to run a ‘three best players’ feature each week after a United victory. On this occasion we couldn’t reach three. So we have a three most disappointing players instead, where frankly, we were spoiled for choice…
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has a lot of patience with Fred, more than most supporters do. Last night he ran out of it.
With United trailing 3-1 in the second half, the Brazilian was hooked, and replaced in a tactical shift with Mason Greenwood coming on. United instantly improved.
This is not to downplay how poor Fred was either. He was taken off not just for tactical reasons, but because he playing badly.
It was Fred who initially gave away the ball for Liverpool’s third goal. While Luke Shaw ran into trouble and lost it a second time, it was Fred’s wayward and senseless pass which put United in trouble initially.
Fred was taken off after just 62 minutes. Tired and out of form, he was having no positive influence on the game whatsoever, and Solskjaer ws right to put him out of his misery.
While Fred was taken off, Scott McTominay did little better. He offered nothing, defensively or offensively.
Liverpool bypassed him too easily and his partnership with Fred was second best.
When he did get a brief sight of goal in the box from a cross at 3-2 down, he was too slow to react and the ball bounced off him.
McTominay completed just 70 per cent of his passes, and was booked for his troubles. He is another player who looks like he needs a rest.
While Dean Henderson started the game confidently, he was found wanting for both second half goals which United conceded.
Goalkeeper is a position where every goal conceded gets scrutinised, especially when a player as talented as David de Gea was sitting on the bench.
The third goal seemed to go through De Gea, while for the fourth, he was too slow off his line and failed to close the angle on an onrushing Mohammed Salah.
Roy Keane criticised Henderson on Sky for ‘looking small’ in goal. His former teammate Peter Schmeichel was so good at closing attackers down and looking big and imposing. Henderson could do with watching a few videos of the Dane over the weekend.
After De Gea’s outstanding performance against Roma last week, where he still admittedly conceded three, there will be several supporters wondering if United are making the right decision selecting Henderson ahead of him and preparing to sell the Spaniard.
Honourable mention… the entire defence
It’s tough to pick out individuals in the defence as Fred, McTominay, and Henderson had worse performances. But without Harry Maguire as the glue which holds United together, the back four became more disjointed.
Luke Shaw erred by trying to do too much after Fred’s mistake, when he should have simply cleared the ball. There’s being confident, and then there’s being too confident.
It was certainly tough for Eric Bailly to play two games in three days, and it’s not easy to re-establish a defensive partnership between himself and Lindelof when they have not played together for so long, especially when against a top side. Aaron Wan-Bissaka was not terrible, but as a unit, the back four have to share responsibility for coming up short.
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