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24th Oct 2021

Gary Neville identifies key tactical flaw in Man United’s humiliation against Liverpool

Reuben Pinder

“They were obliterated.”

Manchester United suffered their most humiliating home defeat in a decade on Sunday afternoon, as a fit and firing Liverpool side put five past a hopeless defence – four of them before half time.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side were pulled apart by Liverpool’s quick interplay and exposed for what they are – a collection of individuals who make up less than the sum of their parts and have no direction from their manager on how they should be playing.

Gary Neville, a Sky Sports pundit, passionate Manchester United fan and former teammate of Solskjaer, delivered a brutal assessment of United’s performance on TV after the game.

He started by saying: “I didn’t think it would ever get as bad as that today,” but acknowledged that a thrashing has “been building for weeks, against half-decent teams,” alluding to United’s quite kind run of games at the start of this season.

“As soon as they’ve played a proper team, they’ve been obliterated – pulled to pieces, dismantled.”

He went on to highlight United’s concerning defensive stats, which show them to be the lowest running team in the league.

“They’re one of the lowest running teams, we know that from the stats. There’s nothing worse than being told you’re one of the lowest running teams in the league and that you’re easy to play against.”

Going into a bit more tactical detail, Neville criticised their lack of organisation when pressing, and the absence of a tactical identity. Interestingly, he didn’t mention Solskjaer in this monologue.

Referring back to his analysis of United’s defeat to Leicester, Neville said: “All of a sudden, you get these sporadic presses where you see Greenwood go and press Soyuncu, or you see Rashford go and press Konate.

“In the first half [against Liverpool], they were a mixture of sitting back in their shape and looking like they were trying to be behind the ball, but in the next breath you’d see a mad little jog – not a sprint by the way – from Greenwood towards Van Dijk, then you’d see Wan-Bissaka ambling towards Robertson. He gets passed behind to Jota, and Lindelof’s trying to get across.

“It’s all too late.”