Manchester United’s defensive woes were once again laid bare, as they slipped to a shambolic 5-0 defeat at home to bitter rivals Liverpool on Sunday.
It took the visitors just five minutes to break the deadlock after exposing United’s leaky defence, with Mo Salah sliding in Naby Keita who calmly slotted in for his second goal in as many games – just moments after Bruno Fernandes had wasted a guilt-edged chance after an excellent counter-attack.
Last week’s hat-trick hero Roberto Firmino then saw his effort saved by David De Gea as Jurgen Klopp’s side continued to slice open their opponents at will, before the Reds doubled their lead as Trent Alexander-Arnold teed up Diogo Jota for a simple finish, following a defensive mix-up between Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw.
The home side had looked lively in attack, yet were at sixes and sevens at the other end of the pitch, with the in-form Salah rubbing further salt in the wounds by netting for the tenth successive game in all competitions after latching into Keita’s pullback.
It got even worse for Solskjaer and co as the Egyptian international made it four just before the break, producing another clinical finish on his lethal left foot to all-but confirm the win inside the first-half.
The Merseysiders then inflicted further misery on the remaining United supporters – with some unsurprisingly having left during the break – as Salah wrapped up his hat-trick with a delightful dinked finish over the onrushing De Gea, becoming the first player to score a Premier League treble at the Theatre of Dreams in the process.
Cristiano Ronaldo then saw a fine finish chalked off for offside, before an already dismal day teetered towards disaster for the Red Devils as substitute Paul Pogba was then handed his marching orders for a reckless, lunging challenge on Keita, following a VAR review.
That proved to be the end of the drama, in truth, as the away side strolled their way to a remarkable victory, ensuring that it is now four games without a win in the league for United and leaves them eight points behind leaders Chelsea in the table.
Speaking after that humbling defeat, under-fire boss Solskjaer admitted it was his ‘darkest day’ as manager of the club.
“It is not easy to say something apart from it is the darkest day I have had leading these players. We were not good enough individually and as a team, can’t give a team like Liverpool those chances but unfortunately we did,” Solskjaer told Sky Sports.
“The whole performance was not good enough. We created openings, they had chances and they have been clinical. The third goal decided the game.”
The Norwegian also accepted the sole responsibility for the manner of the defeat, although he insisted that he has ‘come too far’ to bow to the mounting pressure surrounding his position.
“It is mine, that is it. The coaching staff are very, very good, brilliant. I choose the way we approach the game, we were not clinical enough and gave too much spaces and when you give good players space they score.
“We are at home, playing against Liverpool, we have gone here over the last two and half years and had a similar approach to high press but today they scored on their chances I think as Manchester United we should always try to stamp our authority on the game.
“That fourth goal is when you go into half time with having to score one every 15 minutes. I know these boys are capable of it. The fourth, that was probably game over.
“You can look at last season we lose to Spurs 6-1 this is worse, miles worse. This is miles worse for me as a Manchester lad. I’ve just got to say we have to get over this as quickly as we can.
“I have come too far, we have come too far as a group. We are too close to give up now.
Manchester United will seek a reaction in their next outing away against Tottenham Hotspur next Saturday.