Manchester United captain Bruno Fernandes has been savaged by a legend of the football club after an "embarrassing" performance in the 7-0 hiding by fierce rivals Liverpool in the English Premier League. Cody Gakpo, Darwin Nunez and Mohamed Salah all bagged doubles at Anfield to halt United's impressive recent run and all but kill off any faint title hopes for Erik ten Hag's side.
United came into the contest high on confidence, having last week won the League Cup in what was the club's first trophy in six years. However, their spirit was shattered at the home of their biggest rivals as Liverpool inflicted the heaviest defeat on United since Boxing Day in 1931.
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The visitors largely weathered the storm after a battling first half at Anfield, before Gakpo fired Liverpool into the lead at the break. From there, things went worryingly pear-shaped for United, with Fernandes cutting an increasingly frustrated and dejected figure in a second half capitulation that saw his side ship in six more goals.
United legend Gary Neville was particularly scathing of Fernandes, accusing the United captain of feigning injury under soft challenges from Ibrahima Konate and Alisson Becker. The challenge involving Konate was especially grating for viewers after Fernandes went down clutching at his face, despite little to no contact from the Liverpool player.
— John-Paul O'Driscoll (@JohnPaul_OD) March 5, 2023
Neville also claimed the Portuguese star threw his arms up in air after not being substituted in the second half. The club great and Sky Sports commentator described the scenes as "embarrassing" and a "disgrace" from the United captain.
"Bruno Fernandes is stood in the centre circle with his arms raised saying 'Why isn't it me coming off?' Honestly," Neville said on Sky Sports. "I think some of his behaviour in the second half has been a disgrace."
Neville said he was happy with what he saw in the first half at Anfield, and thought United had done enough to perhaps go into the break with a lead. However, said the abject display in the second half and particularly what he saw from Fernandes, was unacceptable.
"That first 40 minutes was what I would call a classic away performance at Anfield. Manchester United weathered the storm and it looked like they were going to get that goal and go ahead at half-time. The second-half has been an absolute disgrace, a shambles. They have not been epitomised more than Bruno Fernandes, who has been embarrassing - a shambles - in this game.
"But I have to say it's not their usual performance. It's not their usual spirit and form. Ten Hag will deal with it I'm sure, like he's dealt with other difficult issues."
He added on The Gary Neville Podcast: "The second half was an absolute disgrace. I'll start with the captain because you are the captain of the football club. Bruno Fernandes can wind you up sometimes because of the way he is, but that was appalling in the second half.
"The rest of them didn't show up. The whole back four was a disgrace. That can't become the norm. That has to be put down as something we never see again."
Say what you want about Harry Maguire’s ability as a player…
🤯 This is truly the most SHAMEFUL captaincy performance I’ve ever witnessed from Bruno Fernandes pic.twitter.com/gzmuO9Z4H9
— Rory Talks Football (@Rory_Talks_Ball) March 5, 2023
Bruno Fernandes is actually an embarrassment to football 🤣😭https://t.co/ImxcBK1dYj
— Macca (@MaccasValueBets) March 5, 2023
Manchester United captain Bruno Fernandes has just BEGGED Ten Haag to come off.
Could never, ever, ever be my captain.
— H (@ClockEndH) March 5, 2023
Liverpool fifth after thrashing United
For the Reds and their manager Jurgen Klopp, the resounding win was a return to the Liverpool of old after a stuttering season that has seen then languishing in mid table. More importantly for Klopp's team, the three points takes them above Newcastle United and into fifth place on the table - albeit still seven short of United in third.
Liverpool had most of the early possession, but the key chances in the opening half-hour were created by United, with Antony having the first when his low shot towards the left corner was pushed wide by Alisson. United's full-backs then teed up big chances for Fernandes and Marcus Rashford, with Casemiro also denied a 42nd minute goal after straying offside.
The breakthrough came at the other end a minute later. Andy Robertson played in Gakpo, who cut in from the left and beat a dawdling Raphael Varane before driving a 12-yard strike into the far corner. Liverpool then made a dream start to the second half as more sloppy United defending resulted in Harvey Elliott crossing from the right, inside the penalty area, for Nunez to nod in from close range.
The third goal was Liverpool at their best. Salah occupied Lisandro Martinez and drew in Shaw, and Gakpo quietly ran into space before being picked out by his teammate, dashing into the 18-yard box and chipping past David de Gea from a tight angle. It was 4-0 in the 66th minute as Salah smashed in off the underside of the bar after a fortuitous deflection into his path, and 5-0 nine minutes later as Nunez headed in Henderson's cross.
Salah swept in the sixth in the 83rd minute, with United in total disarray, and Firmino, set to leave Liverpool at the end of the season, drilled a seventh.
In the day's other top-flight game, Nottingham Forest and Everton battled out a 2-2 draw. Brennan Johnson scored twice for Forest to salvage a point after the Merseysiders had twice gone ahead in the first half through Demarai Gray and Abdoulaye Doucoure.
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