Liverpool clash threatens more misery for Man Utd
Rooted to the bottom of the Premier League for the first time in 30 years, Manchester United’s disastrous start to the season on and off the field could still get worse when it faces Liverpool on Aug. 22.
Always one of the biggest clashes in the English football calendar, Liverpool’s visit to Old Trafford has taken on even more importance after a difficult few weeks for both clubs.
Liverpool’s title hopes have already been hit by draws against Fulham and Crystal Palace to leave Jürgen Klopp’s men four points adrift of defending champion Manchester City.
However, Liverpool’s woes of an early season injury crisis and the absence of Darwin Nunez due to his ill-discipline that cost the Uruguayan a red card on his home debut, pale into insignificance compared to United’s troubles.
Erik ten Hag is off to the worst start of any United manager for over 100 years after a 4-0 humbling at the hands of Brentford followed Brighton’s first ever win at Old Trafford on the opening weekend of the season.
A large-scale protest by United fans is planned before kickoff aimed at the club’s owners, the Glazer family.
“A fish rots from the head,” said the Manchester United Supporters Trust this week with pressure rising on the Americans to consider selling the club.
Elon Musk joked he was buying the Red Devils this week, while Britain’s richest man Jim Ratcliffe has signaled his interest.
The lack of a coordinated transfer strategy has left Ten Hag to work with largely the same squad that suffered 5-0 and 4-0 thrashings at the hands of Liverpool in their two meetings last season.
Ten Hag, though, also has questions to ask after pushing for the signing of Lisandro Martinez from his old club Ajax despite the Argentine center-back’s diminutive frame seemingly being unsuited to the rigors of the Premier League.
Martinez was hauled off at halftime against Brentford with United already trailing 4-0, but Ten Hag conceded afterwards all 11 of his starting lineup could have been replaced.
Brentford players covered 13.8 kilometers more in that match and Ten Hag reportedly responded by canceling a planned day off to make his squad run that distance the day after defeat on Aug. 13.
But it is on the pitch he needs a response with Liverpool also wounded for its trip to Manchester.
Ten Hag can boost his hopes of securing his first league point against if he dropped Cristiano Ronaldo and Marcus Rashford, Red Devils legend Wayne Rooney wrote in the Sunday Times.
United and England record goalscorer Rooney said his former side requires players who run their hearts out on the pitch and neither Ronaldo nor Rashford provide that.
Ronaldo in his second spell at United has been rumored to be seeking a move away from the club as he wants to play Champions League football.
Rashford’s loss of form since playing in the Euro 2020 final last year has seen him lose his place in the England squad and there have been reports of him being linked with French champion PSG.
“If I was in Ten Hag’s position my main concern would be getting energy on the pitch, and United’s failure to recruit a No 9 means they relied on Ronaldo against Brentford, even though he hadn’t trained a lot with the team. He looked like he needs time to get match fit.”