A clearly unhappy Ralf Rangnick branded Manchester United’s 4-0 rout by Liverpool at Anfield as “embarrassing and humiliating”, with Jürgen Klopp’s team pulling two points ahead in the Premier League title race before Manchester City host Brighton on Wednesday.
Rangnick made the surprise selection of Phil Jones in an unfamiliar three-man defense which was breached after only five minutes by Luis Diaz. Two goals from Mohamed Salah and a Sadio Mané strike completed a Liverpool league double over United with an aggregate score of 9-0.
Rangnick said: “It is embarrassing, it is disappointing, maybe even humiliating. We have to accept they are six years ahead of us now. When Jürgen Klopp came [in October 2015] they changed at the club and lifted not just the team but the club and city to a new level. That is what needs to happen with us in the next transfer windows.
“We have to be critical of ourselves. The way we played in the first 45 minutes was in no area what we wanted to see or play. Since we had all our defensive midfielders not available we decided to go with the back five. I made the decision immediately after the Norwich game [a 3-2 win]. Norwich had five or six massive opportunities to score and had it not been for David de Gea we could have conceded three or four.
“I don’t think the first half had anything to do with our formation. The way we conceded the first goal was definitely not part of our gameplan. It affected our confidence. The first half was not good enough. We changed from a back five to a back four [at the break] and the first 25 minutes of the second half was better. ”
The defeat leaves United in sixth place, three points behind Tottenham in fourth, having played a game less, denting their Champions League qualification hopes.
“I don’t think they’ve mentally checked it out, it’s just a different level,” Rangnick said. “They have better players than we have and this was really reflected by the result today.
“There will be a rebuild for sure, that was obvious in the first three or four weeks for me. For us it is extremely embarrassing. We just have to admit they are better than us – I would say they have 25 Formula One cars in their squad.
“What I say in the locker room stays there but in general it is similar to what I say now. In the first half we were onlookers to what happens on the pitch, when you play like that against a team like Liverpool. If you can’t get hold of the ball, put a little pressure because we just didn’t attack them, It almost looked like if we were afraid to be outplayed. ”
While Paul Pogba may miss the next two matches after limping off in the first half, Klopp hailed a “perfect” night for his side. “It was top level, a great night, nothing to moan about football-wise,” he said.
Of the 9-0 aggregate score over United, Klopp said: “It is for supporters if they want to celebrate, not for me. I am not here to humiliate the opponent. We started the game better than we finished, in between we had a spell where we had to adjust to the different high ‑ press system organization of the opponent [after half-time]. We were clearly better in the first half. ”
In the seventh minute the whole stadium applauded for Cristiano Ronaldo, whose baby son died on Monday. “My favorite moment,” Klopp said. “Pure class right now.”