Erik ten Hag enjoyed a dream start to life as Manchester United manager with an emphatic 4-0 pre-season victory over weakened rivals Liverpool in Thailand.
United ran riot against an extremely unfamiliar Liverpool side, with Jadon Sancho’s rasping drive, a fabulous lob from Fred, and a breakaway effort from Anthony Martial securing an unassailable three-goal lead at the break.
Liverpool, who started the match with five teenagers and did not introduce big hitters Mohamed Salah, Virgil van Dijk, or summer signing Darwin Nunez, until the 61st minute, left themselves with too much ground to make up on United, who put the seal on the encouraging victory with a brilliant late fourth from Facundo Pellistri.
Ten Hag’s tenure may be in its infancy, and this performance was almost certainly aided by Jurgen Klopp’s team selection, but with the positives plentiful for Manchester United there is cause for optimism at the dawn of this new era.
Rampant United run riot against Liverpool
United and Liverpool both contributed to a frantically entertaining start in front of thousands of expectant fans at Bangkok’s Rajamangala Stadium, and it took just 13 minutes for the breakthrough goal, Sancho firing into the bottom corner after pouncing on Isaac Mabaya’s mis-control.
Liverpool youngster Luke Chambers had two bites at hauling Liverpool level before Luis Diaz whistled a shot inches wide amid a flurry of activity in front of the United goal, but it would be Ten Hag’s side who doubled their lead on the half-hour mark as Fred nonchalantly chipped in from 18 yards on his unfavoured right boot.
Klopp made 10 outfield changes on the half-hour mark but two quickly became three, with Martial marking his return from his loan at Sevilla with a brilliant solo goal which saw him streak into Liverpool area and clip a shot over Alisson Becker.
Liverpool steadied but were unable to capitalise on United’s 10 half-time alterations, and only mustered a response on 70 minutes when Nunez stung the palms of goalkeeper Tom Heaton, who had replaced the injured David de Gea moments earlier.
With a stronger, more familiar Liverpool XI on the field, United were braced for a late onslaught but nipped any hopes of a comeback in the bud 13 minutes from time when Pellistri raced away, combined with Amad Diallo, and stroked in a fourth at the end of a breathtaking counter.
Ten Hag: We must not overestimate result
Man Utd manager Erik ten Hag speaking to MUTV: “I know we have good players, now we have to construct a team. I’m happy with the first game.
“It will take lots of time [to get this team playing my way]. I have seen a lot of mistakes today. Let’s be honest, Liverpool plays in three teams, they were not at their strongest.
“We must not overestimate this result, but still I have seen some really good things. We have a lot of creativity and speed up front. Like I said, we have potential.
“I think that was a team with a great spirit and we know we are just started. The press, we made some mistakes, but we also created some chances with pressing.”