When Manchester United stepped out onto the Anfield turf on Sunday afternoon, they did so in the knowledge that they were one of the form teams in the Premier League.
Liverpool have flattered to deceive for long periods of the 2022/23 campaign, though they always seemed to have fared well when United have come to town of late.
It’s doubtful anyone would’ve predicted what would unfold over the following 90 minutes, and it’s safe to say that Erik ten Hag and his troops were sent back up the motorway with their tails very firmly between their legs.
As brilliant as Liverpool were, particularly in front of goal, the visitors were their own worst enemies at times.
There was even a passage of play when United captain, Bruno Fernandes, gave the worst possible example of professionalism by simply giving up after Stefan Bajcetic went past him.
Thoughts and prayers with Bruno Fernandes after Stefan Baj?eti? ended his career tonight ? pic.twitter.com/Mnqz4T1mBg
— AJ (@_Version4) March 5, 2023
Not too long ago, ten Hag suggested – per Sky Sports – that his former player at Ajax, Frenkie de Jong, was a ‘unique’ midfielder and would ‘strengthen any squad in the world.’
It’s known that the Dutchman tried to reunite with his countryman in the January transfer window, but de Jong held firm, wishing to stay in Barcelona despite the Catalans seeming to be willing to do business with the Premier League outfit.
After Sunday’s debacle, ten Hag will surely go back in for the player, and his stats (provided by Opta) when compared to Fernandes make for decent reading.
Despite playing two games less, de Jong has only had 21 less touches of the ball. He hasn’t had quite the potency in front of goal that the Portuguese has, but in virtually every other facet he is a significant improvement on his contemporary.
United could certainly do with de Jong, but after Sunday’s result will he really want to come…