Thursday 18 January 2018

Rooney laments his 'worst day in football'

Moyes admits United offered fans nothing as manager's position becomes more perilous

Luis Suarez of Liverpool celebrates scoring his team's third goal with Martin Skrtel
Luis Suarez of Liverpool celebrates scoring his team's third goal with Martin Skrtel
Manchester United's Wayne Rooney appears dejected during the Barclays Premier League match at Old Trafford
Nemanja Vidic of Manchester United and Rafael react to Daniel Sturridge of Liverpool after the award of the second penalty kick

Tim Rich

Wayne Rooney described the atmosphere in the Manchester United dressing-room as a "nightmare" after Liverpool inflicted their sixth and most humiliating home defeat of a disastrous season.

With his close friend and Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard noting that Brendan Rodgers' side were disappointed not to have won by a greater margin than 3-0, Rooney said: "It is like a nightmare. It is one of the worst days I have ever had in football.

"It is hard to take. You have to give Liverpool credit; they played well but it is difficult for us to take. Nobody wants to lose, especially in this way, in your own stadium."

The shambolic nature of United's performance was demonstrated by the fact that they conceded three penalties and finished the match with 10 men after their captain, Nemanja Vidic, who is quitting the club for Internazionale at the end of the season, brought down Daniel Sturridge.

Gerrard missed one spot-kick, but United might have given away two more and Diego Maradona, watching from the directors' box, saw his spiritual successor, Luis Suarez, put away Liverpool's third.

Rooney admitted: "The game plan went out the window when we went two down," although few imagined that a tactically incoherent United ever possessed any such thing as a plan.

Unless they play with considerably more discipline on Wednesday they will be eliminated from the Champions League.

The only time Maradona played at Old Trafford was in 1984 when a Manchester United side driven forward by Bryan Robson overturned a two-goal deficit in the Cup-Winners' Cup against Barcelona. That is precisely what United have to do against Olympiakos to remain in the Champions League. Unless they do, David Moyes' position as manager will seem even more perilous than it does two months before the end of his first season of a six-year contract.

The most damning statistic against Moyes is that under him the champions of England have managed to beat only one team in the top nine of the Premier League.

"That tells you that we are not doing as well as we should be," he said with considerable understatement.

"We have to play better and we are going to have to make ourselves harder to beat. We have got to make sure we are creating more and taking more of our opportunities."

In what Alex Ferguson, who was watching from the stands, always described as United's most important fixture of the season, Moyes named an aggressive starting line-up featuring Rooney, Robin van Persie, Adnan Januzaj and Juan Mata. Between them they created one clear-cut scoring opportunity, a saved shot from Rooney.

Moyes was asked why in a game he had to win to preserve his waning credibility he had described Liverpool, who had lost 10 of their previous 11 matches at Old Trafford, as "favourites".

Rodgers afterwards remarked that he would not have described any team coming to Anfield as favourites "even if Liverpool were bottom of the table".

Moyes replied: "Liverpool were above us in the league, playing well and anybody would have said the same thing. People are entitled to their opinion."

In one of the most humiliating afternoons many of them could have experienced and beneath a banner that proclaimed Moyes 'The Chosen One', the Stretford End sang for a beaten, disintegrating team to the very end.

"The supporters were unbelievable in the backing they gave the team," said Moyes, who was asked if he thought that backing might evaporate.

"Results will always dictate that but I can only tell you what I heard. They are supporting their team in a difficult period. They shouted plenty and we didn't give them anything on the field." (© Independent News Service)

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