Sunday afternoon marked one of the lowest moments in the recent history of Manchester United – and the post-mortem into their 5-0 hammering at the hands of Liverpool didn’t take long to get underway with United legend Paul Scholes slamming the display of Mason Greenwood.
Now, there’s no getting around the fact that the Reds thoroughly outclassed Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men all over the pitch, but individual performances were also picked apart following the one-sided defeat.
The first half, in particular, was a disaster for United who went in at the break trailing 4-0. The only change that Solksjaer made at half-time, though, saw Greenwood withdrawn in favour of Paul Pogba.
The 20-year-old forward struggled during the opening 45 minutes – and was later accused of ‘cheating’ his own teammates with his lack of defensive effort for Liverpool’s opener by Scholes.
Paul Scholes blasts Mason Greenwood’s performance vs Liverpool
The former England midfielder took aim at Greenwood’s decision-making in the build-up to Naby Keita’s strike after five minutes, which set the tone for how the game would ultimately unfold for United.
“Tactically it was bad today, really bad,” Scholes told Premier League Productions, per The Metro.
“But on the other side of that players have got to have some kind of common sense as well.
“You think about Mason [Greenwood] in that first instance going to close Virgil van Dijk down, that was almost cheating.
“He knew he wasn’t going to get the ball and he knew it looks like he was going to close him down but he knew he was just going to pass it and he can’t do anything.”
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Scholes then went on to explain how Greenwood’s error had ‘ruined’ the whole United team from a defensive standpoint.
“It’s almost a cheating way of sprinting to him, they pass it and then he has a little walk back because he thought, ‘I’ve done my bit’. But he hasn’t done his bit, he’s ruined the whole team, all the team get pulled out of position, [Aaron] Wan-Bissaka has to come out, [Victor] Lindelof ends up at right-back, then there’s all of the space in the middle.
“All of a sudden, from Mason not doing his job properly, the team attacking, Salah played Keita in, he could’ve played Alexander-Arnold in, he could’ve played Robertson in. It was ridiculous the way it happened, sometimes players have got to use their common sense,” concluded Scholes.
As disappointing as Greenwood’s afternoon was, however, it was still preferable to that of his replacement Pogba, whose own game barely lasted 15 minutes after he was sent off for a reckless challenge on Keita on the hour mark.
Scholes himself was hardly renowned for his defensive excellence during his playing days. Some of his challenges – in all fairness – were complete shockers.
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However, his grievance with Greenwood here is an understandable one. United don’t realistically have the right personnel at present to attempt to press opposition of the quality of Liverpool.
If Solskjaer is going to insist that his side commits to the tactic going forward, then more work needs to be done on the training ground to ensure that players aren’t going rogue in the style that Greenwood did on Sunday.