Liverpool didn't just beat Manchester United at Anfield on Thursday, they exposed their bitter rivals' paucity of ambition and made a clear statement of their own intent.
Jurgen Klopp's vibrant team should have beaten a moribund Manchester side by many more than two goals. But while the heroics of goalkeeper David de Gea may have saved the Red Devils from scoreboard embarrassment, they did not hold back the fury of the pundits.
Former United player Paul Scholes led the assault, branding United a "shambles". His colleague, Rio Ferdinand, followed suit, berating Manchester manager Louis van Gaal and declaring the team's "fairy tale" was over. Former Liverpool striker Robbie Fowler, meanwhile, described United's performance as "disgraceful" on ITV.
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There was more of the same in the press. Van Gaal "shamefully" ignored the tradition of the fixture while Liverpool embraced it, says Henry Winter of The Times. "United were timid and disorganised, lacking the intensity and invention defining Liverpool's vibrant performance."
The manager does "not seem to appreciate the pain such displays stir in those who hold United dear", he adds.
His team put in possibly the most "insipid, witless and disorganised" display a United team has ever produced at Anfield, says Ian Ladyman in the Daily Mail.
Van Gaal's team "were wretched and perhaps the most damning part of their night was that they appeared to be playing to instruction," Ladyman adds. "Baffling" selections saw striker Marcus Rashford on defensive duty on the wing in the first half and Michael Carrick at centre-back in the second.
But could the United boss simply have met his match in Klopp? "What a triumph this was for the German," says Jim White in the Daily Telegraph. "What vivid reward for boldness and panache. What a shrewd tactical masterclass he had delivered in how to make the most of limited resources. The opposite, in short, of Van Gaal's suffocating risk aversion."
Klopp and Liverpool are the kind of match that Van Gaal and United will never be. The Reds' boss fits in at Anfield, says Barney Ronay in The Guardian, and he was out before kick-off soaking up the atmosphere.
"Whatever his ultimate successes at Liverpool, it already seems certain this will be a warm period in the club's history, if only because Klopp clearly loves the idea of this club, loves the sound and fury, loves derby games whatever the branding at the side of the pitch."
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