MANCHESTER — Rooted to the bottom of the Premier League for the first time in 30 years, Manchester United’s disastrous start to the season on and off the pitch could be made worse when they face Liverpool on Monday.
Liverpool’s visit to Old Trafford, always one of the biggest clashes on the English football calendar, has become even more significant after a difficult few weeks for both clubs.
Liverpool’s title hopes have already been dashed by draws with Fulham and Crystal Palace, leaving Jurgen Klopp’s men four points behind holders Manchester City.
However, Liverpool’s woes with an injury crisis earlier in the season and the absence of Darwin Nunez due to poor discipline which cost the Uruguayan a red card on his home debut pale in comparison to United’s misfortunes.
Erik ten Hag got off to the worst start of any United manager in over 100 years after a 4-0 win over Brentford, following Brighton’s first win at Old Trafford on the opening weekend of the season.
A large demonstration by United supporters is planned before kick-off, directed at the club’s owners, the Glazer family.
“A fish is rotting on its head,” the Manchester United Supporters Trust said this week, as pressure mounts on Americans to consider selling the club.
Elon Musk has joked he will buy the Red Devils this week, while Britain’s richest man Jim Ratcliffe has signaled his interest.
The lack of a coordinated transfer strategy saw Ten Hag working with largely the same side, beaten 5-0 and 4-0 in last season’s two meetings with Liverpool.
However, Ten Hag also has questions to ask after pushing for the signing of Lisandro Martinez from his former club Ajax, although the Argentinian centre-back’s diminutive stature doesn’t seem suited to the rigors of the Premier League.
Martinez was sent off at half-time against Brentford, United were already 4-0 down but Ten Hag then conceded all 11 of their starting XI could be substituted.
The Brentford players covered an extra 13.8km in this game and Ten Hag reportedly responded by canceling a scheduled day off to allow his side to cover that distance the day after last Saturday’s defeat.
But on the pitch he needs an answer as Liverpool are also injured for their trip to Manchester.