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Manchester United’s senior performers came in for massive criticism from former players in the wake of their 7-0 drubbing at the hands of Liverpool.
The Red Devils have enjoyed a resurgence this season under Erik ten Hag and won the Carabao Cup recently, but suffered their joint-biggest ever league defeat at the hands of their biggest rivals at Anfield on Sunday.
Mohamed Salah, Cody Gakpo and Darwin Nunez each scored twice, with Roberto Firmino adding another off the bench – with six of those goals coming in the second half as United imploded and the Reds took full advantage.
Speaking on Sky Sports during the match, Gary Neville picked out Bruno Fernandes in particular for a petulant and ineffective showing, with the Portuguese player more than once being shown walking without making effort to win back possession as Liverpool players ran away from him, before also appearing to gesticulate to the United bench that he wanted to be substituted.
“Bruno Fernandes is asking why it’s not him [coming off],” said Neville. “Honestly, some of his behaviour has been a disgrace, [even if] he’s been brilliant at times, his assists and goals.
“The second half has been a disgrace, a shambles, epitomised by Fernandes who has been embarrassing at times. It’s not their usual performance, spirit or form. [Erik ten Hag] will deal with it,” he said at a later point.
Fernandes was also criticised for apparent play-acting as he tried to win a free-kick for an injury to his face, with replays showing minimal contact in a different area, while Neville also highlighted a lack of leadership from the Man United skipper.
“I start with the captain. You don’t throw your hands up, you run back. I’ve had enough of him throwing his arms up as team-mates and not running back. He got pushed in the chest and goes down holding his face. I think Ten Hag will deal with him very strongly in the next 48 hours. It was a disgrace.”
After full time, Roy Keane in the studio included the other senior players in United’s line-up in his criticism, with the team including seasoned internationals such as Casemiro, Raphael Varane, Luke Shaw and the in-form Marcus Rashford.
“The senior players didn’t show any leadership skills, they were embarrassing,” he said. “It was a tough tough day for Man United. The players will be ashamed of their second-half performance, they went missing to give up that many goals.”
Fernandes himself took to the cameras after the match to explain the performance.
“It’s really frustrating and sad because it’s a really bad result. The first half was really good, we had chances and controlled most but the second half was not at our level,” he said. “We gave too much time and space and counters to them and it was not our level. We know how much quality we have so it’s about the next game and get a result back.
“The team tried to react but in a reactive way. You try to go forward and score but you lose balance and control of our positions on the pitch. Against these teams who are strong on the counter we have to avoid that.
“It can be [damaging] but we had setbacks in the past and we have to come back again. That’s what Manchester United is about.
“Today we didn’t show and perform at our level but we know this team can do good things. This team will still do great things together with our fans and we appreciate them even at the end of a game like this. It’s still really good to be a Red Devil.
“We have set a really good level and now it’s about getting back to that.”
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