Manchester United’s worst year of Premier League defeats points towards another Liverpool humiliation

Not for the first time in recent years, Manchester United appeared to be finding their way through the bottom to reach a new low in Saturday’s 4-0 defeat by Brentford.

All four goals of Thomas Frank’s energetic, brilliant hosts came within 35 minutes. Never had United fallen so far behind at such an early stage of a Premier League game, as they slipped to the bottom of the table for the first time since 1992/93 at the start of the season and suffered back-to-back defeats.

Of course Alex Ferguson guided United to the title 30 years ago but such a recovery is just a fantasy for newly appointed manager Erik ten Hag.

Liverpool are next in line at Old Trafford, with the gulf between the best in the division and where United currently lie being once again brutally exposed.

By the time they make the short journey to Stretford, it will be 302 days since Liverpool’s last visit. United weren’t in their best form then. They’ve been in utter confusion ever since – a tale grimly outlined by the beating below.

MORE: How Brentford inflicted last humiliating defeat on Manchester United

24 October 2021: Manchester United 0-5 Liverpool

After a second-place finish and a place in the 2020/21 Europa League final, Cristiano Ronaldo should be the final piece in the puzzle for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who joined after Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane. Ronaldo’s original mission was to bail United out of trouble in Champions League games against Villarreal and Atalanta, and their Premier League form faltered when Liverpool came to town.

A run of three league games without a win was prolonged in the most brutal fashion as Mohamed Salah’s brace added to early goals from Naby Keita and Diogo Jota to be 4-0 at half-time. Salah completed his hat-trick early in the second half and when substitute Paul Pogba was sent off for a horror challenge against Keita, it felt like it could end up being any outcome. Liverpool showed a measure of mercy.

20 November 2021: Watford 4-1 Manchester United

Solskjaer survived that ordeal and even led United to a 3-0 win at Tottenham to herald the end of Nuno Espirito Santo’s tenure in north London. But a 2-0 home derby loss to Manchester City left him staring down the run.

Watford boss Claudio Ranieri would also be sacked by January and the Hornets ended the season relegated. This not-so-strong combination didn’t make things easier for United and Solskjaer, however. Josh King and Ismaila Sarr gave Watford a 2-0 lead before that constant reminder of what could have been, Donny van de Beek, pulled one back. Then Harry Maguire awkwardly conceded a second yellow card and any hopes of a late rally from the 10-man were dashed by late goals from Emmanuel Dennis and Joao Pedro. Solskjaer was subsequently sacked.

6 March 2022: Manchester City 4-1 Manchester United

Ralf Rangnick came into play with his initially praised combination of home truths and powerful football. The United team rarely seemed ready when it came to the ‘godfather of counterpressing’ and his methodology, but there was some sort of recovery. Between the Watford game and Manchester’s second leg at the Etihad Stadium, they lost just once in 20 games, albeit with a penalty shoot-out loss to Middlesbrough in the FA Cup, which came midway through that run.

Arguably the reason that defeat sent things into the ongoing doom spiral is the simple fact that United played quite well in the first half. Sancho scored a wonderful goal between Kevin De Bruyne’s brace and they were perhaps unlucky to go behind at the break. Then City didn’t let them have the ball for 45 minutes and the faith slowly drained from every player in red. Riyad Mahrez scored twice and things completely started to fall apart.

19 April 2022: Liverpool 4-0 Manchester United

United’s only two wins between the derby and the visit to Anfield came from Ronaldo’s hat-tricks against Tottenham and Norwich. Rangnick was supposed to be the man to deliver a coherent collective vision of football but that fell through, barring the occasions when they were saved by the great soloist.

Ronaldo was absent from Anfield following the tragic death of his young son and United were clueless in his absence. Luis Diaz and Salah finished the game in contention within the first 22 minutes. After 10 minutes, Pogba limped away in the final act of his United career. Sadio Mane and Salah added some more garnish to the score. They played a bowl.

7 May 2022: Brighton 4-0 Manchester United

The United squad seemed to be counting down the days towards the end of the season and Rangnick’s provisional tenure following the Anfield defeat, never more so than in that pathetic surrender against Brighton.

Moises Caicedo put Albion ahead in the 15th minute but Graham Potter’s men brought the home down in the second half. Marc Cucurella, Pascal Gross and Leandro Trossard all pitched in, with the only surprise being that the latter’s 60th-minute goal didn’t result in another penalty.

13 August 2022: Brentford 4-0 Manchester United

Brighton once again made a nuisance to anger Ten Hag’s introduction on day one of this season. United got off lightly, losing just 2-1, but against an unrelenting Brentford there would be no escaping.

David de Gea easily ran Josh Dasilva through the palms and into the net in the 10th minute before Christian Eriksen was unceremoniously blocked by Mathias Jensen who made it 2-0. Ben Mee capitalized on United’s weaknesses at set pieces before Ivan Toney Bryan Mbeumo struck brilliantly for an excellent fourth counterattack.

Next it’s back to the scene of the original football crime against Liverpool. All the best Eric.

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