EPL

It was nowhere near good enough for Man Utd – Maguire apologises to fans after Liverpool thumping

By Sports Desk October 24, 2021

Manchester United captain Harry Maguire has apologised to the club's supporters after their humiliating 5-0 defeat to rivals Liverpool at Old Trafford on Sunday.

Mohamed Salah plundered a hat-trick after Naby Keita and Diogo Jota had put Liverpool into a 2-0 lead inside 15 minutes, while substitute Paul Pogba was dismissed on a dark day for United.

The result was United's heaviest ever defeat at home to Liverpool, and it is the first time they have lost to-nil by five or more goals at home since February 1955 (5-0 v Man City).

The defeat follows last weekend's 4-2 loss at Leicester City and leaves Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side eight points adrift of Premier League leaders Chelsea.

Maguire, who was at the heart of a slapstick performance by United's defence, admitted the display was well short of the standards the club should be setting.

"We apologise to the fans, it was nowhere near good enough for this club," he told Sky Sports. "They stuck with us right to the end and we appreciate that but as a club we have to do better.

"I am so disappointed; we gave them so many chances. They were so clinical, we had a lot of chances ourselves but I am a defender and to concede four in the first half, especially at Old Trafford, is nowhere near good enough.

"As a player I know myself. I’ll be looking at myself and my individual performance.

"We have to stick together, there is no point blaming each other but look at ourselves. Look in the mirror when we go home tonight and think where we can do better.

"To lose to Liverpool in any game of football hurts. The rivals, the way we lost the game, to be 4-0 down at half time in front of our fans, like I say it is not good enough."

Asked if it was too strong to say the result was embarrassing, Maguire responded: "Not really. The term I'd use is not good enough. I look at those lads each day in training and we are working hard as we can but at the moment it is not good enough.

"I apologise to the fans, we have to look at ourselves as individuals but also stick together."

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    Thomas Tuchel declared himself "absolutely happy" with Chelsea's performance against Manchester United and promised to "steal back" the points they dropped in a 1-1 draw.

    Premier League leaders Chelsea moved only a point clear of Manchester City after they were held at home on Sunday.

    Jadon Sancho pounced on a Jorginho error to score his first Premier League goal, before the Chelsea midfielder responded by converting an equalising penalty.

    This was a second consecutive home game in which Chelsea have failed to deliver maximum points, also drawing 1-1 with Burnley.

    Frustratingly for Tuchel, the United match followed the pattern of the Burnley game in that Chelsea dominated; across those games, the Blues have attempted 49 shots and faced just eight while taking 100 touches in the opposition penalty area.

    "We cannot be surprised. Things like this happen," the coach told Sky Sports.

    "It's happened now twice to us that we invest so much and we play such good games against Burnley and Man United and feel a bit disappointed, because we feel we did by far enough and pushed the limits and pushed the standards to win these games.

    "Over a long season, you drop points and you dig in and you try to steal them back if somebody steals points from you. This is what we do.

    "We don't count the points, when we are four up or one down or whatever. We are in the middle of the race, and this is where we want to be. From there, we go."

    Tuchel said he could "not at all" see the influence of Ralf Rangnick – his mentor, set to be appointed at Old Trafford – in United's play and was also "not at all" surprised by the visitors' performance.

    Of his own side, he said: "I'm happy, absolutely happy. I was happy to coach the team, I saw a huge effort, big intensity.

    "We had so many ball recoveries in the opponents' half, put the pressure up high. We controlled the counter-attacks before they started. We were brave and courageous.

    "They defended deep and you need maybe the first goal to open it a bit and to gain the last per cent of maybe freedom and confidence to have follow-ups and goals and big chances.

    "If you don't score, you always run a bit behind, because you feel that you're the stronger team, you play in the opponents' half.

    "We had two or three big chances that we should have maybe used, but in general I'm very happy, because I like the way we played."

    Chelsea are now winless in eight against United in the Premier League, their second-longest such league sequence in this fixture.

    It was the fifth time the Blues have hosted United as the Premier League leaders, winning three and losing one of the previous four. The three victories were followed by title triumphs.

  • Man Utd no lost cause but Rangnick has work cut out as he inherits mishmash of philosophies Man Utd no lost cause but Rangnick has work cut out as he inherits mishmash of philosophies

    When Manchester United sacked Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and announced a caretaker manager would then be followed by an interim manager to be replaced by a third coach at the end of the season, confusion would have been written over the faces of many supporters.

    It seemed an unnecessarily convoluted process to just appointing someone better than Solskjaer, but perceptions are already starting to change.

    Michael Carrick had a pretty daunting introduction to life at the helm, with a crucial Champions League match followed by a trip to imperious Premier League leaders Chelsea.

    Yet, after what was presumably his second and final game in charge, he's seen United take an entirely respectable four points – Ralf Rangnick waits in the wings, and there were even hallmarks of the German on display as Carrick presided over Sunday's 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge.

    There could be no mistaking what was going through Carrick's mind before the game. While he shrugged off Cristiano Ronaldo's benching as just simple squad selection, one of the main focuses on the Portugal star this season has been a lack of work rate off the ball.

    Given Rangnick's reputation and renown as the so-called 'Godfather of Gegenpressing', it can't have been a coincidence that Carrick opted to start a front three who would ordinarily be expected to get through a little more work when not in possession.

    Getting in Chelsea faces appeared to be the objective, and to United's credit, there certainly seemed to be a greater desire to press with intensity during the early stages of the match.

    While that may have been a sign of things to expect in future for United, it would also be fair to say they have much work to do as well – their urgency out of possession may have looked better, but it didn't seem to upset Chelsea massively.

    The Blues still created a raft of opportunities, two of which were crafted inside the first three minutes and 10 seconds, with Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Victor Lindelof unconvincing on both occasions.

    Those accounted for two of the four saves David de Gea was forced into before the break, the Spaniard also tipping a long-range Antonio Rudiger strike onto the crossbar.

    Chelsea reached half-time with no goals from 0.86 expected goals (xG), showing United (0.02 xG) were benefiting from a mixture of wasteful finishing and De Gea's excellence – so while Carrick's set-up technically worked to a certain extent, keeping the hosts out in the first half, the Red Devils offered nothing in attack themselves.

    Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford were sloppy, Bruno Fernandes – deployed as a 'false 9' – seemed to be playing by his own rules, going rogue as he often popped up in the full-back areas. Nobody was leading the line and therefore United had no out-ball.

    As a result, they managed just two touches in the Chelsea box and 21 passes in the final third – Thomas Tuchel's men had 16 and 81, respectively. United's mid-game tweet of "leading from the front" accompanied by a photo of Fernandes almost seemed sarcastic when Sancho was their only player whose average position was in the attacking half during the first 45.

    But early in the second half, the game changed in an instant. Fernandes leathered a bouncing ball up the pitch with the kind of kick that would be followed by a shout of "have it!" in your average Sunday League game.

    Jorginho's first touch was similarly Sunday League, the ball squirming off his foot and right to Sancho, who charged forward with only Rashford for company. A little swivel of the hips, suggesting he'd square the ball, deceived Edouard Mendy and the forward slotted home his first Premier League goal.

    Of course, it was hardly a goal indicative of some new-found philosophy – it was a Jorginho error. Yet, had United not been pressing in anticipation of a mistake, they wouldn't have scored.

    United suddenly started to look a threat on the counter-attack with Sancho and Rashford, who was far livelier than he had been in the first half – though Carrick might have wanted to see his team use their countering as a weapon a little more often.

    As it was, they soon fell back into their set-up from the first half for the most part, sitting back in their own area and inviting pressure. It brought their downfall, as Wan-Bissaka's rash penalty concession allowed Jorginho to atone for his error at the other end.

    United were fortunate, with Rudiger's late volley going high and wide when he looked destined to score, though they at least showed the kind of urgency and spirit that was lacking in recent embarrassments at the hands of Liverpool and Manchester City.

    Rangnick's main concerns will likely lie in the tactical mishmash he stands to inherit, and in some ways this game showcased it perfectly. One minute their priority was pressing, the next it wasn't. They began to set up for counter-attacking, then they weren't.

    Let's not forget, this is a squad assembled by several different coaches all with hugely varying ideas – from Louis van Gaal's possession-based approach and Jose Mourinho's pragmatism, to Solskjaer's counter-attacking (not that he stuck with that throughout his time in charge) and now Rangnick's 'Gegenpressing'.

    The draw at Chelsea certainly shows Rangnick will have a lot to work with. The off-the-ball performances of Fred and Scott McTominay would have been particularly encouraging. But it also highlighted he has a lot of work to do.

  • Guardiola: It is incredible Man City standards have not dropped over six seasons Guardiola: It is incredible Man City standards have not dropped over six seasons

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    City defeated Everton 3-0 last Sunday in the Premier League prior to edging past Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday and defeating West Ham four days later.

    Ilkay Gundogan opened the scoring for the hosts at a snowy Etihad Stadium on Sunday, with substitute Fernandinho adding a second before Manuel Lanzini delivered a consolation strike for the visitors.

    City, who have now kept seven clean sheets in their last eight Premier League home games, have triumphed in 10 of their last 11 top-flight meetings with West Ham.

    After another positive result, Guardiola hailed the work of his squad who he believes exhibited a winning mentality that continues to serve them so well.

    "We created enough chances against them, under these conditions and circumstances for both teams," Guardiola told BBC Sport.

    "The last 15-20 minutes was impossible to play but, especially after the game against PSG which was so demanding mentally and physically, to get this team performance, it's a great result for us.

    "The Premier League title is always the most important one of the season because of the fact you play a lot of games in special situations, the more you adapt and show resilience then we can show that mentality.

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    West Ham have registered just one win in their last 16 Premier League visits to City, while collecting just five points from a possible 78 in games against all reigning champions.

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    "We created chances and it could have been three or four," he said. "The absences we had, all the guys that came in were brilliant and that's why we win a lot, because of the mentality of these guys.

    "We cannot forget which opponent we faced. West Ham have everything: Set-pieces they're so strong, they defend really well, on counter-attacks they are a machine, they attack channels like no team in the Premier League. We know how difficult they are.

    "The groundskeepers were the man of the match. They did an incredible job today."

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