Their Liverpool teammates James Milner and Virgil van Dijk exchanged angry words on the pitch with their foreheads almost touching. They were pointing their fingers, gesticulating, looking very disgusting.
Liverpool have just fallen behind in the Premier League for the seventh time in a row, and among bedlam inside the awakened Old Traffordthe team’s two senior players chased each other.
A sign that they care? it is possible
However, for many people, the moment will be used to show that all is not well within Jurgen Klopp’s squad.
The results also confirm this.
It’s always dangerous to jump to conclusions early in the season – after all, only three rounds of games have been played – but the Premier League title race in recent years has had such great advantages that every point counts.
And Liverpool have already conceded seven of them since their 2-1 defeat at Manchester United on Monday, following draws against Fulham and Crystal Palace.
The crisis club of the Premier League for the first two weeks was United. Much of the focus will now shift to Liverpool.
“The squad is tight, we’re a tight unit, but sometimes you have to say something,” Liverpool defender Andy Robertson said. “Things will get better. But we are far behind what we want to be.”
Liverpool look likely to get their first win of the season on Saturday against Bournemouth, a promoted side who have just shipped a combined seven goals in defeats to Manchester City and Arsenal.
And let’s not forget that United’s defeat was Liverpool’s first in the league in 2022.
However, the first three games revealed some problems for the Reds.
Liverpool’s strength has improved significantly in recent seasons, but the sheer number of injuries plaguing the squad is a cause for concern.
Klopp said he had “14, 15 senior players” left for the United game, with defenders Ibrahim Konate and Joel Matip, midfielders Thiago Alcantara, Naby Keita and Curtis Jones and forward Diego Hota all injured. Meanwhile, Darwin Nunes, the new signing up front, was serving the first game of a three-game suspension.
So this meant that Liverpool were playing with a fifth striker (Roberto Firmino), a fourth centre-back (Joe Gomez) and a journeyman midfielder (James Milner). Klopp filled his bench with two backup goalkeepers.
“I’m worried about our situation,” Klopp said.
A WEAKENED MIDDLE
Midfield could be a big concern, even if Klopp claims he has enough options.
Without Thiago, Liverpool lack a player who can control the game and deliver the killer ball. Fabinho, the Brazilian anchorman, has been ruled out of United after an average start to the season. Jordan Henderson is certainly the leader but rarely plays 90 minutes these days. Keita is hit and miss but has yet to develop into the dynamic player Liverpool thought he was. Milner, 36, has sat out the last two games despite being at his best.
Liverpool’s failure to buy a midfielder this transfer window and move on to others looks like a miscalculation, perhaps Klopp has put too much faith in the players who have served him so well.
Borussia Dortmund’s Jude Bellingham could be the midfielder Liverpool are waiting for next year. Perhaps the Reds should have gone all out this summer.
THE VAN DYKE WRESTLING
Aleksandar Mitrovic turned it over easily and converted the penalty in the first leg against Fulham. He stood like a statue as Jadon Sancho lined up his strike to put United ahead on Monday.
That’s two more mistakes than Van Dijk usually commits in an entire season.
When the towering Dutchman — a player who holds the defense down — is off the pace, it’s sure to rub off on the rest of the team.
It hasn’t helped Van Dijk that he’s had to start alongside three different centre-back partners this season: Matip, Nat Phillips and Gomez.
The Reds have conceded the first goal in all three games and now in nine of their last 10 competitive games. In games, they need to be turned on earlier.
THE MISSING MANE
Sadio Mane has been a mainstay in Liverpool’s attack for six years, a regular source of goals and providing so much energy and drive that it helps his teammates around him. In the second half of last season, he mostly started as a center forward and was more prolific and important than Mohamed Salah.
He is sorely missed following his move to Bayern Munich, where he was looking for a new challenge. Luis Diaz is a good replacement – Klopp called the Colombian “special” last week – but it takes a lot from him to have the same results as Mane.
With Firmino in decline and the towering Nunes a completely different type of striker, Liverpool have a revamped attack that calls for a whole new style of play. It could take time, and after such a poor start to the season, Liverpool are running out of time.