Ralf Rangnick was described as the godfather of gegenpressing when he was appointed Manchester United interim boss in late 2021.
Despite a legendary status in German football, Rangnick has not been able to change the fortunes around at the 20-time English league champions.
“I felt he got everything wrong,” said former Dundalk boss Vinny Perth who was on co-commentary duty alongside Stephen Doyle for Off The Ball.
Rangnick deployed a system that had three centre-halves at the back, with Phil Jones playing in this fixture for the first time since 2017. He was hooked at halftime for Jadon Sancho as Rangnick abandoned his plans.
“He switched (Aaron) Wan-Bissaka from the right to the left, and if he hadn't done that, (Mohammed) Salah could have got three or four goals tonight,” said Perth.
“He got the team selection wrong, they were a lot better in the second half. But again, they were completely outplayed, the manager has got to take huge responsibility.”
🗣 "How have United spent that amount of money in the last 5/6 years and ended up with that starting XI?" | — Off The Ball (@offtheball) April 19, 2022
Phil Jones plays in this fixture for the first time since 2017.#MUFC 🔴@GilletteUK | #EffortlessFlow
Live commentary: https://t.co/nLZDtDXaAo… pic.twitter.com/IKWXZjzq3z
🗣 "How have United spent that amount of money in the last 5/6 years and ended up with that starting XI?" |
— Off The Ball (@offtheball) April 19, 2022
The Reds neither pressed as a unit or defended in a low block. Thiago picked United off threading balls through a team that allowed massive spaces between the lines.
United were dismal, and have now been beaten by both Liverpool and Manchester City on an aggregate score-line of 15-1 this season.
“Over two games, it’s nine and no goals scored against Liverpool. It’s not anger any more. It’s just sadness with where the club is at,” remarked former captain Roy Keane on Sky Sports after a humiliating night for Manchester United.
Paul Pogba went off with a muscle injury after just 10 minutes. He was replaced by Jesse Lingard.
Keane suggested that Lingard “should have left United two years ago, he’s not good enough to play for United”, and that Marcus Rashford “played like a child.”
The towel was thrown in early. United failed to muster any real credible threat to Alisson’s goal.
“Tonight's performance shows me that the way they gave up and put in no effort suggests there is something seriously wrong in that dressing room,” said Perth.
Speaking to the media post-match, Rangnick agreed; “It's embarrassing, it's completely disappointing. In a way also humiliating."
"This team needs to be rebuilt, it is clear. A game like today showed in a very drastic way that this rebuild is necessary."
"The first half, we were just not good enough. We did not win any first ball or second balls. We were second best in all relevant areas,” said Rangnick.
Manchester United came to Anfield with a host of first team players out injured. These included Fred, Raphael Varane, Luke Shaw, and Edinson Cavani, while Scott McTominay was only fit enough for a place on the bench.
Liverpool had no injury concerns despite playing in every game they could have done at the start of this season.
Rangnick fumed over the Pogba injury in his post match comments. "He [Pogba] has a muscular injury on his calf. He pulled his muscle. That's another issue. It's now the seventh or eighth player missing out with injuries even though we are playing in one competition."
Erik Ten Hag is set to take over the reins on a permanent basis at the end of the season. It has yet to be confirmed whether Rangnick will move upstairs to a role he has been more familiar with over the last 10 years of his career.
Ten Hag’s Ajax side were beaten by PSV Eindhoven last Sunday in the Dutch cup final and are four points ahead in the Eredivisie with five games to go. He is tasked with a major overhaul with Lingard, Pogba, Cavani, Juan Mata and Lee Grant are all out of contract, while Nemanja Matic has rejected the option of extending his deal by another year.
Manchester United now travel to Arsenal for the lunchtime kick-off on Saturday before hosting Chelsea next Thursday night.
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