Neil Atkinson’s post-match review after Manchester United 0 Liverpool 5 in the Premier League at Old Trafford, and it is an absolute joy to behold…


THESE are the days. This is the life.

I’ve been saying this for ages. It needs to be enjoyed. It needs to be savoured. Every single moment of what we have is special. Today was the thing some of us have been waiting for our whole lives in a strange way. Going there and doing that to them.

But all week I’ve been saying this:

“Don’t expect us to go there and smash them. That just doesn’t happen.”

Fuck do I know? Honestly, Liverpool keep you humble. Did you like the team? Bet you had a moment. Bet you gave a flinch. Liverpool keep you humble. They know more than you do.

Things could be marvellous. Things could be fabulous.

Liverpool went to Old Trafford and dismembered Manchester United or aided them in the act of dismembering themselves. Liverpool battered them slowly. Battered them relentlessly but at their own pace, like a slow cooker.

The best bit is almost the final 10 minutes. Liverpool are kicking the ball to each other so slowly. Here you are. Have it back. Here you are. Have it back. They walk slowly up the pitch occasionally taunting Manchester United by breaking into a jog. Liverpool laugh as they kick. Maybe we will torture you some more, you little devils, or maybe not. It is very funny. It is delicious.

We haven’t beaten Manchester United there by more since Queen Victoria was on the throne. They haven’t lost by five goals to nil at Old Trafford since Harold Macmillan was Prime Minister. Those players having a kick about on a Sunday afternoon just wrote a new page in the history book and it is a joy to watch. Save your legs, boys. We’ll need to beat better teams than these before May.

But then there is the first half. First Mo Salah sends Naby Keita in for a classic after just five. It is unbelievable the space everyone is in, Liverpool do brilliantly just to keep their nerve over and over given how it all opens up.

Seven minutes later, Diogo Jota glides goalwards and slots the ball past De Gea, off the back of a beautiful Trent Alexander-Arnold pass. Bang. Bang. If Jota hadn’t scored it Milner would have. United undressed. Liverpool unfettered, zipless.

And then oh, the ridiculous, dancing delight of Mo Salah. De Gea will feel tonight that he has a mare, but Mo’s goals are so strong. Assisted by Keita, Jota and Henderson, but mainly, his blazing pace, he takes the ball at the goal sharply and leaves United’s defence for dust. Three times he drags them out of shape, sprints past them, and leaves the keeper no chance at all.

Minutes 38, 45+5, and 50 are, in reverse, possibly the best times to score in a game if you want to set the course of a match. Just before half time and just after it are the times when you can seriously psychologically damage your opponents. Send them in with heads down. Just as they have got their hope back, and you send them reeling.

We all love a last minute winner. But this hat trick is all about control. It is the team that takes control on the 38th minute that is able to save legs on the 75th. It is classy, intelligent, and total zen. Hats off to you, Mo Salah. Top of the world.

The Henderson ball is sumptuous it really is. It devastated any hopes Manchester United had.

Fundamentally Manchester United got this game wrong. They thought they could press us. But in doing so, they left ridiculous amounts of space on the pitch which Liverpool exploited. Again and again, they pushed over to the left and we swung round behind them. The more it went on, the more shape they left us. Our possession wasn’t perfect, but no matter. Our counter-pressing meant we always won it back.

What the famous Manchester United failed to appreciate is we get pressed harder and smarter in training games. We went after them at our leisure and allowed them to come at us knowing we could pop it round.

Better tactical approaches were available. Let Liverpool come forward at you, and counter. Surely that was the right response to the threat today? Or failing that, play a team that is capable of sharp pressing, and can still execute that plan with the likes of Mo Salah, Roberto Firmino and Diogo Jota on the pitch.

For heaven’s sake, Cristiano Ronaldo is on the pitch, and playing for your side. Even if he is no longer at his best, his skill is shamed by the petulant boot he kicks into the ball being cradled by Curtis Jones’ body. Arguably this could be a red. One of the most experienced top-level players lashes out like a child.

Marcus Rashford looks frustrated and Mason Greenwood tries but can’t get anywhere. They are disorganised. Defenders can’t get goalside. And attackers can’t stay onside. Liverpool’s shape is yin to Manchester United’s atrocious yang.

So there we go. Rewrites for the history books, and a delightful bouncing bus trip back down the M62. It’s five goals to nil to Liverpool. A hat trick to magic Mo Salah. And six yellow cards and a sending off for Manchester United.

It says it all.

There will be days when we face horrible results like this. Liverpool have had dark days and rock-bottom hell days, and we will again. But for tonight, let’s relish a Liverpool team in total and utter control over our rivals. So cool and calm that we could beat them 5-0 in third gear. So full of good judgement and skill on the football pitch that we could play them off the park and take it easy.

That silky, slow passing at the end said it all. Liverpool were in control today, and there was nothing — not a single thing — Manchester United could do about it.

Liverpool have scored 18 in their last four away games. Two of those were Champions League games, another was Old Trafford.

So let’s pick our moment here, be clear and frank about the matter. This is the best Liverpool team we could ever hope for. They may win nothing this season, you know. Football works like that sometimes. But since January 2018, these have been the glory days. This is what it is to be alive.

Cherish and savour every single minute. Be in love and act accordingly. This is our sole job, our only responsibility.

Take every moment and hold it close. This league isn’t going to win itself. We need to enjoy the process though. Enjoy every week.

Cherish it. These are the days. This is the life. We only get one go. And you, they, us, all of us will do for me. This is the time. And you know I’m right.

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