In the end, the only real surprise was that Jose Mourinho admitted Liverpool are a better side than Manchester United, rather than railing against some perceived slight or trying some other form of distraction.
But even then, that just emphasises what a bad job Mourinho has done in constructing his side. Liverpool fielded some wildly expensive talent, but on Sunday they also had three players bought from relegated teams: one scored twice (Xherdan Shaqiri), one was singled out for praise by Mourinho himself (Andrew Robertson) and one helped run the midfield that so outplayed United (Gini Wijnaldum).
In total the three of them cost about £5 million less than United paid for Fred this summer. Fred was nowhere to be seen this weekend, and according to the manager, apparently can’t be trusted to start until the defence Mourinho put together is tighter. No wonder the board won’t trust him with any more money.
Which does beg the question: what’s the point in keeping Mourinho at this stage? If you don’t have a formal sporting director but won’t let the manager buy players, then the only reason to keep said manager is if he’s getting results. United are now a point ahead of Wolves. They’re eight behind Arsenal in fifth. They’re 11 off the Champions League places. And 19 shy of Liverpool at the top. Liverpool would frankly have been embarrassed had they not won this game.
Sacking Mourinho wouldn’t solve all of United’s problems. But it would solve one.
All of the 12 outfield players who appeared for Liverpool against Manchester United had an attempt at goal, a total of 36 efforts to United’s six. This wasn’t quite so much a football match, more 90 minutes of shooting practice.
Of course statistics usually don’t tell the whole story, but sometimes they illustrate it. This time, it was an indication of just how dominant Liverpool were. Shaqiri’s two goals may have benefitted from deflections, but that shouldn’t detract from the scale of their superiority.