Manchester United slumped to back-to-back Premier League defeats with their 4-2 loss to bitter rivals Liverpool on Thursday, despite lining up with a full-strength side.
United made 10 changes in Tuesday night’s defeat to Leicester at Old Trafford but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side to start the match against Liverpool was more orthodox.
Despite that, and though they took the lead through Bruno Fernandes after 10 minutes, United were well beaten by the Merseyside outfit.
Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino put Liverpool 2-1 up into half-time before the Brazilian gave the visitors a two-goal lead early into the second half.
Marcus Rashford pulled one back but Mohamed Salah made sure of the three points for Jurgen Klopp’s side late on.
Solskjaer, however, had several usually reliable players fail to play to their full potential in the defeat. Express Sport looks at the five biggest under-performers on the night.
Picked over Axel Tuanzebe to partner Victor Lindelof, with captain Harry Maguire out, the Ivorian endured a disastrous evening.
Bailly almost gave away a penalty, as Anthony Taylor backtracked on his initial decision after consulting the VAR pitchside screen and adjudging the defender to have got enough of the ball before catching Nat Phillips.
But the 26-year-old centre-half, the only man to keep his spot in the starting XI after Leicester, was far too rash throughout and was poor on the ball too.
Was subbed off for Nemanja Matic late on after picking up a yellow card for a bad foul on Diogo Jota.
Bailly wasn’t the only United centre-half to struggle on Thursday night, with Lindelof not quite as poor but still underwhelming.
The Swede had a chance to cement himself as the next best central defender at the club after Maguire but struggled up against Liverpool’s attack and particularly their pace.
Was one of those at fault for the third Liverpool goal and like Bailly was well off it when in possession.
The heart of United’s back-line appeared all at sea without skipper Maguire to lead them.
In addition to United’s centre-back struggles, their midfield was also given the run around and Fred was among the poorest performers.
Roy Keane raged at full-time: “How they think Fred is going to get United back to winning titles I don’t know. I know he [Solskjaer] dragged him off but even so it was sloppy, it was lazy. It is school boy stuff.”
The Brazilian was to blame for Liverpool’s third goal as he gave away possession with a wayward pass and defensively struggled to keep up with his opponents all game.
He found himself replaced by Mason Greenwood but was probably lucky to even make it to 63 minutes given how ineffective he was, barring a couple of drives forward on the ball in the first half.
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Similarly to Fred, McTominay was poor on both sides of the ball and was convincingly bettered by the trio of Fabinho, Thiago Alcantara and Gini Wijnaldum.
Though he showed desire and determination, his pressing often failed to make any impact and his use of the ball was poor too.
McTominay has enjoyed a strong season overall but on this occasion will have felt he might have done more and was relative bypassed too easily just like Fred.
The United academy graduate also might have been sent off on another night after two quick fouls, the second on Sadio Mane.
Brilliant all season and particularly brilliant in the reverse fixture against Liverpool, as well as in the FA Cup win over their rivals at Old Trafford, United left-back Shaw struggled this time around.
The England international was caught out of position for Firmino’s third after giving the ball away as he looked to dribble out of danger.
Shaw didn’t offer quite his usual attacking threat, although he improved in that sense as most of his team-mates did in the last 20 minutes, and crucially couldn’t help shut down the excellent Trent Alexander-Arnold.
Was also fortunate he wasn’t punished for giving the ball away for an earlier goalscoring opportunity.
What’s next for United
The Red Devils will hope for those individuals, and their team as a whole, to rediscover their best form on Tuesday night against already-relegated Fulham.
United then take on Wolves in their final match of the Premier League season the following Sunday.
Solskjaer’s second full campaign as boss comes to a close against Villarreal in the Europa League final in Poland on Wednesday May 26.
The Norwegian is looking to win his first piece of silverware as manager, though if United lose, they are already guaranteed to be playing Champions League football next term.