Old Trafford Has Fallen: Liverpool Desecrate Manchester United on Hallowed Ground
© AP Photo / Rui VieiraLiverpool's Mohamed Salah, background center, leaves the field with the match ball at the end of the English Premier League soccer match between Manchester United and Liverpool at Old Trafford in Manchester, England, Sunday, Oct. 24, 2021.
© AP Photo / Rui Vieira
Liverpool’s 5-0 thrashing of Manchester United in the northwest derby has firmly established where the two sides stand in the Premier League pecking order.
Entering the match, Liverpool sat in third place in the Premier League, and were in need of a win to keep pace with Chelsea and Manchester City. United remained in seventh, but a win would have vaulted them into the top four. In a game with so much to gain it wouldn’t have been a shock for both sides to ease into the game and feel out their opponent. Instead, both sides started the game flying.
From the opening kick, United played with the reckless energy of a team desperate to exert their will on a match. For the first few minutes, it seemed to be working, as United’s pressing intensity had Liverpool on the ropes. While the intensity was there, the discipline was not. Liverpool opened the scoring in the fourth minute when Luke Shaw failed to maintain a defensive line and gave Liverpool and Naby Keita an easy goal.
Instead of responding to the blunder with more poise, United capitulated. With each passing minute, Liverpool gained more and more control of the game, and soon they began to pour in the goals. Diogo Jota doubled Liverpool’s lead in the 12th minute and Mohamed Salah scored the first of his three goals in the 37th minute.
United had enough humiliation, but, unable to exert themselves in any capacity, they let their frustration out on Liverpool’s players. From the 40th minute to the first-half’s extra time, United picked up four yellow cards, and Cristiano Ronaldo committed an offense for which a less famous player would have instantly been shown the red.
Liverpool, unfazed, added a fourth goal right before half-time, like an older sibling putting their younger sibling in their place in the midst of a tantrum. A mass of United fans had seen enough, as an exodus of Old Trafford transpired. Liverpool’s traveling section, much like their side, subsequently became the dominant force in the stadium.
The second-half saw Salah add a third goal to complete a hat trick, and bring his total to 10 goals in nine Premier League matches. The low point for United wasn’t the fifth goal, however, it was when Paul Pogba was shown a red card for a challenge on Naby Keita that saw the latter stretchered off. Pogba’s challenge did not appear to be malicious, but it was incredibly reckless and perfectly encapsulated the problems with United’s performance. The energy was there, but the discipline was glaringly absent.
Manchester United are nowhere near the top of English football. The gulf between them and Liverpool, Manchester City, and Chelsea is immense, and calls for Ole Gunnar Solksjaer’s job will only get louder. A loss would have been forgivable, but what transpired at Old Trafford was something else. Old Trafford is holy ground for the United faithful, and under Ole’s watch, Liverpool desecrated it. If he survives to manage another match, he’ll need a string of impressive results to absolve him of his sins.