F365 Says: This is Manchester United. This is “nothing”

Date published: Tuesday 19th April 2022 10:19 - Will Ford

Fernandes Rashford Man United

The very least you expect is effort, but there was very little of that as Manchester United were battered for a second time by Liverpool this season. 

Ralf Rangnick opted for solidity, playing five at the back with two holding midfielders. It was the ploy of a manager who leads at a team at its lowest ebb in Premier League history, playing against a team at its highest, who had hit them for five on their own patch in their last meeting. The gulf in quality and application between these two sides has never been more in favour of Liverpool.

The plan was a problem. Presumably Rangnick wanted his players to double up on Liverpool’s wide forwards, with one of the three centre-backs or one of the holding midfielders aiding the wing-backs. They didn’t know what to do, and Rangnick should know well enough by now that United plans – even talking or writing about them – are a waste of time, because these players either don’t listen to, don’t care about, or can’t enact them. After just six minutes, the best right winger and best right-back in world football were running onto a through ball with no opposition player anywhere near them. What’s the f***ing point, thought us and Ralf Rangnick watching, and very clearly, the imposters wearing Manchester United shirts.

It was very good from Liverpool – some one touch passing, good runs and perfectly weighted passes – but Harry Maguire had to be tighter on Sadio Mane, who had far too much time to turn and pass, and Diogo Dalot had to track the runs of Mohamed Salah and Trent Alexander-Arnold. United couldn’t afford to give Liverpool an inch to have any chance of getting anything from this game, but the space they granted allowed Jurgen Klopp’s side to, quite frankly, rip the piss out of them.

Liverpool mane salah diaz

Thiago was waltzing around the pitch, spraying passes, doing little bits of skill. You could almost feel Roy Keane’s desire from the Sky Sports studio to run out onto the pitch and snap him. Liverpool have not had an easier game this season.

“What we’re watching at the moment is nothing, this is just a nothing,” Gary Neville said on commentary, amid frequent references to the United players generally not giving a sh*t. Pointing out players “walking”, as Neville did on a number of occasions, can be a misplaced criticism. It’s often an easy out for pundits wanting footage to illustrate why a football team has lost a game of football without any hard evidence. Footballers walk on a football pitch, a lot. It’s knowing when to, or rather when not to, that’s pretty bloody important.

Don’t walk when you’re closest to the player in possession. Don’t walk when you’ve just given the ball away. Don’t walk when the player you’re supposed to be marking has made a run off your shoulder. Should a Liverpool player dream of doing anything of the sort, Jurgen Klopp will bark from the sidelines and likely bite in the dressing room after the game. For Liverpool players, Chelsea players, Manchester City players, the players of any Premier League football team, not trying is unacceptable; these Manchester United players – in the first half in particular – were not trying.

This is Manchester United. This is embarrassing. This is “nothing”.

 

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