Liverpool have had a disastrous start to their pre-season campaign, as they suffered a crushing 4-0 defeat to Manchester United in Thailand. Jurgen Klopp used 32 players in the game, but the focus was always going to be on Darwin Nunez, the striker, on whom Liverpool have splashed a record £85million this summer.
Liverpool were already 3-0 down when Nunez arrived on the pitch. There was a chance to pull one back when a rebound came to Nunez, who was stationed just around eight yards from the open net. But the Uruguayan forward smashed it high while the goalie was still crumpled on the ground.
Many fans instantly started questioning his hefty price tag. One user wrote, “If this is what 100m is worth in today’s game then sadly football is truly finished. €100m used to get you the best players in the world now they get you a Uruguayan Andy Carroll.”
Klopp, however, wasn’t concerned about this attempt, and instead pointed out the positive takeaways from his performance in the game. Klopp pointed out how the rest of the team is already looking for him on the field, constantly sending a forward ball that required a dashing sprint from Nunez.
“It was his third session (since arriving for pre-season training) and I think after the third sprint, his lungs were nearly ready to explode,” said Klopp in the post-match conference. “We nearly killed him these balls but he offered the runs and the boys wanted to pass the ball, that is for sure one of his strengths. He was dangerous, all these kinds of things.”
Nunez’s arrival might see Klopp reverting to his favourite 4-2-3-1, a formation that brought great success to him at Dortmund. Being a versatile striker, Nunez can play either as a winger or as no. 10. This system also negates the pressing need for a midfield overhaul, as they can easily play with only two midfielders.
As for Manchester United, they would be pleased with Antony Martial, who put up a clinical performance ahead of the goal, also dinking the ball over Liverpool’s goalie for one of his goals. Equally pleased would be Erik ten Haag with Jadon Sancho, who opened the account with a finish to the bottom corner, and looked threatening in the final third.
But again, these pre-season friendlies should be taken with a pinch of salt, just like how both sides did. They don’t paint a clear picture of the side, and only the opening weeks of the Premier League will show the true standings of the teams.
Featured Image Credit: Darwin Nunez/Twitter