By Ian Parker, PA
Ralf Rangnick admitted he was embarrassed after watching his Manchester United side get thoroughly outplayed as Liverpool returned to the top of the table with a 4-0 win.
United barely got a touch of the ball as Luis Diaz and Mohamed Salah put Liverpool in control before half-time, and though a change of formation briefly helped United improve after the break, further goals from Sadio Mane and Salah finished them off.
It was another chastening result for United, who have lost 9-0 on aggregate to Liverpool this season, and have now conceded more goals than relegation-threatened Burnley.
Too often at Anfield, they appeared to lack the required fight or effort to pursue their target of a top-four finish.
“I don’t think they have mentally checked out, it is just a different level,” Rangnick said. “[Liverpool] have better players than we have and this was really reflected by the result today.
“There will be a rebuild for sure, that was obvious in the first three or four weeks for me. For us it is extremely embarrassing as a coaching staff to sit here and have a press conference like this. We just have to admit they are better than us.”
Ralf has delivered his #LIVMUN verdict. #MUFC | #PL
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) April 19, 2022
Fred was missing with injury and Scott McTominay fit enough only for the bench, so Rangnick included Phil Jones in a makeshift back-three, but then saw his plans hampered again when Paul Pogba limped off with only eight minutes gone having suffered a calf injury.
But though the injuries played a role, Rangnick admitted they were not the whole cause.
“We have to be critical with ourselves,” Rangnick said. “The way we played in the first 45 minutes was in no area what we wanted to see or play. Since we had all our defensive midfielders not available we decided to go with the back five… I don’t think the first half had anything to do with our formation.
“The way we conceded the first goal was definitely not part of our game-plan. It affected our confidence. The first half was not good enough.
“We changed from a back five to a back four. The first 25 minutes of the second half was much better but the story of those 25 minutes was we didn’t score a goal. The third goal was on the blacklist of what we shouldn’t do against Liverpool.”
United’s cumulative 9-0 defeat against Liverpool was the second-worst in the club’s history, only surpassed by the 11-0 over two games they suffered against Sunderland in 1892-93.
However, Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp insists he takes no satisfaction in dishing out such drubbings.
“I am not here to humiliate opponents. We did what we had to do,” he said.
“They played without their centre midfielders and when you are in a difficult situation like United before the game, Paul [Pogba] has to go off and it is not easy to play against us.
Anfield nights ❤ pic.twitter.com/u6WQCqm0il
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) April 19, 2022
“Nine-nil? I am not interested in that. It is something for the supporters if they want to celebrate. I know it will not last forever, they will strike back.”
In the seventh minute all supporters inside Anfield joined together to applaud as a gesture of support for Cristiano Ronaldo, who was absent on compassionate leave after the death of his newborn son.
“Pure class in the moment where everyone knows since yesterday so many things are much more important in life. That was my moment of the game,” added Klopp, who does not think he will be watching City’s game at home to Brighton on Wednesday.
“But other football moments, outstanding yes, Luis set up Sadio, Diogo [Jota] came on, Thiago played a good game.
“Nothing to moan about, we don’t take these things for granted. If our counter-pressing was not as sensational as it was tonight, I think United could have had a much better game.”