THIS WAS A TOTAL and utter embarrassment for Manchester United.
Shambles was the word being bandied about and it didn’t seem strong enough.
For all the progress made under Erik ten Hag, this is unforgivable under his watch.
Where on earth did this performance come from?
To think the manager said how much he was looking forward to this.
How his team was going to face down the hostile atmosphere.
“I know these players, my squad, my team, will be prepared to go there and fight and to go there with confidence,” he said.
Fight? They disintegrated. This was as bad as anything from last season.
Ten Hag has emphasised time and again that levels cannot drop.
Often you thought he was being too hard on his team when he picked holes in victory.
Maybe he sensed this could be coming.
Sir Alex Ferguson always used to emphasise how fixtures like this were so huge due to the fierce historic rivalry etched in English football and English football fans.
City fans still sing about the 6-1 victory under Roberto Mancini at Old Trafford and always will.
Liverpool fans will remind their hated rivals about this forever.
No matter what has gone before, these fixtures, these huge fixtures, remain finals, one offs, scorelines and occasions that go down in the annals.
There has been plenty of praise for Manchester United this season, and rightly so.
Ten Hag has turned United into a team again.
A club that had become a figure of ridicule was once more one to be feared.
There was even talk of an unprecedented quadruple.
Well make that a treble with one in the bag already.
Talk of a title tilt was always fanciful even if the maths told you it was possible.
Yet, spirit, will and momentum was always going to take the team so far.
And there had been signs this was coming.
They weren’t brilliant at Wembley in winning the Carabao Cup.
In fact for a 20 minute period in the second half Newcastle had control.
West Ham were much the better team for much of the FA Cup fifth round clash last midweek.
Manchester United ran out 3-1 winners through a belief that Ten Hag has instilled into his players.
But this is a team still short of what is ultimately needed.
They have lost away to Arsenal, Manchester City and now Liverpool.
For all Marcus Rashford’s incredible form they are short of an out and out number nine at the very top of their game.
A club like Manchester United should never be in a position like that.
Yes, the recruitment was good this summer but that was a department that needed addressing with obvious problems brewing with Cristiano Ronaldo.
United have scored less goals than Brighton in the league this season, 18 less than league leaders Arsenal and 25 less than neighbours Manchester City.
A player like Wout Weghorst is not the answer when Ronaldo has been let go.
It was right he went, have no doubt.
His presence was proving toxic and the team have undoubtedly been better on the whole since his departure.
But let us not forget that this was the club’s top scorer last season.
When this club was at it’s very height there was four goalscorers to call upon in Dwight Yorke, Andy Cole, Ole Solskjaer and Teddy Sheringham.
Now it is just Rashford, whose best position is not even through the middle but on the left of a three behind….well, Weghorst as it proves.
At Anfield, Rashford was squeezed out the game and Weghorst frightened nobody.
Ten Hag has talked up his squad a lot of late.
Yet, last Wednesday against West Ham showed how changes to this team see the standard drop.
He had to bring on Rashford, Casemiro and Lisandro Martinez to rescue that situation.
The fact that he has changed so many games with his substitutions suggests that the starting eleven has not always been enough.
FREE BETS AND SIGN UP DEALS – BEST NEW CUSTOMER OFFERS
There has been a reliance on players like Bruno Fernandes and Rashford in a punishing schedule.
At Anfield, Fernandes reverted to his huffy worst, even looking like he wanted to be hauled off at one point.
What happened to Luke Shaw?
Where was the Casemiro who has been dominating games and even talked up as the best signing since Eric Cantona on the morning of the game?
United have to try and put this to one side. Ten Hag will rightly be furious.
But this one ninety minutes should not undo all the good work that has been done under him.
Thursday’s game against Real Betis has to be the day they get back on track.
The FA Cup is still a trophy they can win and they are the favourites to pick up the Europa League.
But this stain on their record in this fixture will never go away, never.