t was an evening to remember and which will be cherished for a long time to come by the visiting side, Liverpool for the massive trashing they gave to the most successful club in the history of the English Premier League, the Red Devils of Manchester (Man U., for short). On the contrary, it is something the management, staff, and fans alike at Old Trafford would want to put behind as quickly as possible because it is the worst defeat the club (Man U.) had ever witnessed at home ground in their history book.
“When the ship goes down, the captain goes down with it”. Such a result as five goals to nil plays a greater impact on the Manager and players of both teams; while it increases the morale of the victor and endless encomium showered on the team’s Manager for a job well done and a plan well executed; it demoralises the vanquish and the Manager faces the gun and the potential of a possible sack especially for a club as big as the United of Manchester.
At full time of Liverpool’s 5-0 thrashing of Manchester United, the gap in demeanour between Jurgen Klopp and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was almost as pronounced as the disparity between the two teams on the field. While one manager ecstatically celebrated in front of a raucous Away crowd, the other silently walked down the tunnel, stunned.
Manchester United’s previous heavy defeats at the English Premier League are as follows:
1996 – Newcastle 5 – 0 Manchester United
1996 – Southampton 6 – 3 Manchester United
1999 – Chelsea 5 – 0 Manchester United
2009 – Manchester United 1 – 4 Liverpool
2011 – Manchester United 1 – 6 Manchester City
2020 – Manchester United 1 – 6 Tottenham Hotspur
What Solskjaer saw from his side on Sunday had ample reason to shock him. United has been chastised for several of their performances this season, but every criticism levelled at them was borne out by the manner in which Liverpool dismantled their greatest rivals in front of their own fans.
This performance and result were so dreadful that Solskjaer’s time as Manchester United manager could be over. The Manchester United team has the talent to compete for big titles this season, especially with the summer additions of Cristiano Ronaldo, Jadon Sancho, and Raphael Varane, but they are regressing.
With Solskjaer’s authority shattered, the focus will now shift to who might succeed him. Antonio Conte and Zinedine Zidane have both been named as possible replacements, although neither is sure to do much better than the Manchester United manager they would replace.
Of course, the group’s performances may improve, but Klopp has profoundly shifted the balance of footballing power in the North West, along with Pep Guardiola. Liverpool and Manchester City will have the upper hand as long as the German, regarded as one of the best coaches of his generation, is at Anfield and Guardiola is at the Etihad.
In a tactical sense, Liverpool’s framework harnesses its finest players in a way that Manchester United does not, but Klopp’s ability to flip the script between the two rivals over the last six years is impossible to trace on a chalkboard. Klopp, on the other hand, has managed to bring about a culture shift.
It is the manner Liverpool currently expects to come away from Old Trafford with all three points. In the way its players fiercely press from the front and rely on one another to carry out their responsibilities, and in a way, those on the field and those in the spectators have a direct relationship. All of this is because of Klopp’s efforts.
Manchester United has the unfortunate situation of having two of the best managers of this generation working for their two closest and fiercest rivals. The reality is that they may have no choice but to wait for Guardiola’s and Klopp’s premierships.
It is also worth considering whether Ed Woodward, who is slated to leave Manchester United at the end of the year, will be interested in changing managers so near to the end of his eight-year stint. Sacking Solskjaer just a few months after signing a new long-term deal would be an admission of failure that Woodward would have no hope of recovering from.
If Solskjaer is fired, it may have to come from the top. Since the Super League fiasco, the Glazers have shown a stronger desire to be involved in Manchester United’s operations – witnessed how they helped bring Ronaldo back to the club – and it is not out of the question that Woodward will get a call from his bosses.
At Old Trafford, there will be a lot of soul-searching as they try to find answers to all of the questions that will be hurled their way. Solskjaer may not be able to hold on to his position for another week. It is possible we have crossed the point of no return. Other variables are, however, at work. For United, Solskjaer is an issue, but Klopp is a much greater concern.