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By Alywin Chew
We know it as “The Theatre of Dreams”, and earlier this morning (SGT), Old Trafford indeed lived up to its name.
But it wasn’t for the Red Devils.
It was for, ironically, of all opponents, their arch nemesis.
Liverpool had on this day created history by beating United 5-0 for the first time at Old Trafford. This was also the first time in the history of the Premier League that United had gone into halftime with a four-goal deficit.
Summing up Manchester United’s troubles as “nightmarish” might be an understatement, because this wasn’t just a massive 5-0 loss. This result could very well mean that United will have to embark on the rocky road of rebuilding. Again.
Because it’s almost impossible that Ole Gunnar 50lskjaer will still be running the club after this humiliation.
— Zunnurain🌠👑 (@Hustleuthman_) October 24, 2021
Brendan Rodgers, Zinedine Zidane, Antonio Conte and Mauricio Pochettino have already been linked with the role. Getting a new capable gaffer this early on in the season could still reverse United’s fortunes and have them contend for a Champions League spot.
After all, United have a team that is capable of doing so. What transpired against Liverpool was something that many United fans were aware of all along – Solskjaer’s tactical ineptitude.
He fielded a starting eleven that could be argued was a reflection of his proclivity to play it safe. Scott McTominay and Fred were placed in the holding midfield positions, but they offered little to protect their defenders against Liverpool’s incisive passing.
The game plan looked desultory. No one clothed in red seemed to know what to do. Perhaps Solskjaer gave his team talk in Norwegian. Perhaps no one cared to play the game he wanted.
Liverpool must be given credit. They were excellent. But they were made magnificent by United’s cluelessness.
The comeback spirit that United displayed in mid-week against Atlanta in the Champions League was nowhere to be seen. Deflated by a rampant Liverpool in the first half, United sought to reverse their fortunes by bringing on Paul Pogba.
But again, Liverpool struck. Sir Alex Ferguson could be seen shaking his head when Mo Salah completed his hattrick.
Sir Alex Ferguson after the fifth goal.
— 𝖥𝖠𝖲𝖳 𝖦𝖮𝖠𝖫𝖲 🦅 (@IFAST66) October 24, 2021
Few would argue that Mohamed Salah eclipsed the legendary Cristiano Ronaldo on this occasion, scoring a hattrick and walking away with the match ball. CR7 seemed to have clawed one back for United after the break, but VAR judged him to be offside. He was otherwise absent for most of the game. CR7’s frustration came unhinged when he kicked out at Curtis Jones in a touchline scuffle.
There was finally some semblance of a North-West Derby. Andrew Robertson gave the Ballon d'Or winner a piece of his mind. Virgil van Dijk puffed his chest and shoved the Portuguese. Bruno Fernandes came crashing into the fray and shoved Van Dijk.
But Ronaldo lucked out. The referee brandished a yellow.
Pogba was not so lucky. He was in the 60th minute given a straight red for a two-footed, studs-up challenge that also sent Naby Keita off the pitch in a stretcher.
Pogba highlights against Liverpool pic.twitter.com/Uracn1tw6t
— P™ (@SemperFiArsenal) October 24, 2021
— ⚡ (@UTDCJ_) October 24, 2021
And that was the final nail in the coffin for United.
From the 70th minute, Liverpool took their foot off the pedal and looked as if they were conducting passing drills on the hallowed pitch of their rivals. The United players looked like they couldn’t wait for the final whistle to be blown.
The match was at this juncture unwatchable. It was no longer a big win for me to celebrate. This derby now seemed like a B-grade horror flick inundated with gratuitous gore.
Putting myself in the shoes of my United peers, I sighed.
I know it’s odd for a Liverpool fan to say this, but I felt sorry for the United fans.
It wasn’t too long ago that Liverpool were in a similar predicament. We had a club legend running the show, and things weren’t too shabby. But as much as we appreciated that King Kenny steadied the ship, we knew he wasn’t the man we needed in this modern footballing age.
We eventually got out of the rut and found the way to the top with a world class manager in the form of Jurgen Klopp.
United need to do the same.
Yes, I want to see the Red Devils roar back to form.
Because schadenfreude is not fulfilling.
Beating your arch nemesis rival who is at the top of its game is.
This article, "Pull the trigger, United. It’s time for Ole to go", originally appeared on Football Siao – Singapore’s craziest EPL website.