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Five times Man Utd lost by five goals and reactions that followed speak volumes


Old Trafford seemed to be wallowing in grief by 6.30pm on Sunday night as it bore witness to possibly the club’s worst defeat in decades.

Manchester United have spent decades trying to knock Liverpool off their perch. Well now they are, once again, looking up enviously at their arch rivals after a 5-0 reverse.

Ole Gunnar Solsjkaer watched on, bereft of ideas, as his team were cut apart time and time again by an outfit playing with total clarity as their manager barked orders from the touchline.

Losing by five has been anything but a regularity for United in the Premier League era. Since 1992 the UK has seen more Prime Ministers than United have defeats by a five-goal margin.

Sir Alex Ferguson watched on several times as his teams were humbled, but never was the reaction as bad as this.

His expression in the stands said it all.



Sir Alex Ferguson’s face said it all as Liverpool ran riot
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Image:

Sky Sports)




David Moyes, Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho were spared such embarrassment, even if they were all dismissed.

Solskjaer has called for a reaction, and he will need one with his job very much on the line.

Losses of this calibre are not expected at a football club like Manchester United, so the fallout can often be dark.

We take a look at how such defeats have been handled in the past.









Newcastle 5-0 Man Utd – October 1996

Martin Tyler’s “Philippe Albert” commentary is one of Sky Sports’ iconic sounds, but not one that Ferguson will be replaying.

The Belgian chipped Peter Schmeichel to round off a sensational night for the Toon Army – and a forgettable one for United.

Their first defeat by five goals in the Premier League era and one that would involve their title rivals that year.

“I thought we played quite well actually,” claimed the Scot, perhaps surprisingly, after the humiliation.

Ferguson’s United were certainly in the midst of a blip. Defeat at St James’ Park was followed up by a 6-3 mauling at the hands of Southampton.

By this point they languished in fifth and lost to Chelsea shortly after to make it three defeats on the bounce.

Ferguson had the credit of winning three league titles in four years in the bank, so the word pressure never really came into it.

It was the Scot who would have the last laugh, with his mind games provoking Kevin Keegan’s famous “I will love it if we beat them” rant.

United finished top as Newcastle capitulated. The Magpies may have won the battle in October 1996, but United won the war by May 1997.



Massimo Taibi conceded five as Man Utd were battered at Stamford Bridge




Chelsea 5-0 Man Utd – October 1999

It had been 288 days since United had tasted Premier League defeat. They rocked up at Stamford Bridge as treble winners, boasting the title of European champions.

Chelsea seemingly had little care for reputation. They were ahead within 27 seconds and never looked back.

There are bad days in the office, but this was a whole different level. Massimo Taibi started in goal, but was new to England.

He didn’t speak any English, so the club enlisted a local Italian restaurant owner to bark translated instructions pitchside. Communication problems to say the least.

Nevertheless, Ferguson saw his side beat Watford 4-1 next time out and the defeat at Chelsea was one of just three losses that year.

In fact United would finish first by a then record 18 points as their domestic dominance continued. Needless to say no one asked questions of the manager.



The “noisy neighbours” announced their arrival as a powerhouse with a mauling at Old Trafford




Man Utd 1-6 Man City – October 2011

This would’ve been Ferguson’s worst nightmare having labelled Manchester City as the “noisy neighbours”. Well they thumped up the volume in 2011.

October was clearly an unkind month to Ferguson, with his worst defeats all coming in the year’s 10th month.

City, now heavily backed financially, ran riot at Old Trafford to underline their title credentials.

“It was a bad day, no doubt about that. It’s our worst ever day,” said Ferguson.

The seasoned operator’s worst fear would also come to light as the visitors scored three times in added time to rub salt in the wounds.

“That was a big blow for us because you never know, goal difference may count. Most years it is in our favour but, at this moment in time, it’s not.”

Well, guess what, it did. Sergio Aguero’s last gasp goal against QPR meant the title was indeed decided on goal difference.

United did respond to the humbling defeat by winning eight of their next nine, which began with a 1-0 win at Everton, but the scar was certainly evident throughout the year.

Ferguson signed off the following season with the league title, but he won’t have forgotten the pain of that afternoon.



Tottenham ran riot as Tottenham smashed Man Uts for six
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Image:

GETTY)




Man Utd 1-6 Tottenham – October 2020

The manner of the defeat hurt, made twice as bad by the fact it was Jose Mourinho who masterminded it.

Solskjaer was hired to replace the Special One, but was dealt a lesson early last season. An first-half red card didn’t help, but then again neither does lacklustre defending.

That is a lesson United still seem to be learning. The hosts actually took the lead but were 4-1 down by half-time.

“Our pride was hurt. The manner in which we lost, we were not ourselves, and we know that,” said Solskjaer.

All of a sudden the United boss was under major pressure. The loss came after a poor summer transfer window and questions were asked of the man in the dugout.

Solskjaer had delivered a third place finish in his first full season, but there were still plenty of doubts.

His team responded by beating Newcastle 4-1 but then draw to Chelsea and lost to Arsenal.

After the Tottenham defeat the Norwegian said: “It is the worst day of my career as Manchester United manager and the worst day for all of them as United players.”

Little did he know, he would get a lot worse.



The Norwegian has never been under more pressure
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Image:

AFP via Getty Images)




Man Utd 0-5 Liverpool – October 2021

It says a lot about where United are at that this wasn’t a total surprise. A decade on from Ferguson’s worst day, Solskjaer declared this his darkest.

“It is the darkest day I have had leading these players,” he told Sky Sports. “Not good enough individually or as a team.

“We lost 6-1 to Spurs last season but this is miles worse.”

Summer signings were meant to bring United closer to the likes of Liverpool. The gap now looks as big as it has in Solskjaer’s tenure.

Of all United’s Premier League maulings, this one is most likely to cost the manager.

Tottenham in north London are next up for the Red Devils with games against City and Chelsea also to come. Things look bleak now, but they could get so much worse.

At the time of writing, Solskjaer is odds on favourite in the sack race.


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