Manchester United 'clueless and heartless' against Liverpool, says Paul Merson

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Paul Merson slammed Manchester United for their performance at Anfield

Paul Merson has slammed Manchester United for their 'shocking, clueless and heartless' Europa League defeat at Liverpool.

The Merseysiders ran out convincing 2-0 winners in the first European meeting between England's two most decorated clubs on Thursday.

United mustered just a single attempt on target throughout the duration of the 90 minutes as they failed to cope with Liverpool's intensity, succumbing to strikes from Daniel Sturridge and Roberto Firmino.

The result left the Reds with a healthy advantage ahead next Thursday's return at Old Trafford, and, speaking on Soccer Saturday, Merson accused United, and manager Louis van Gaal, of failing to grasp the importance of the game.

Asked to describe United's defeat at Anfield, he said: "Shocking, clueless, heartless, and brainless - one of the worst I've ever seen.

"I felt sorry for Manchester United fans the other night, I don't usually feel sorry for their fans because of the unbelievable success they've had over the years.

Chris Smalling, Daley Blind and Juan Mata of Manchester United react to Daniel Sturridge of Liverpool scoring their first goal during the Europa League
Image: Manchester United slumped to a 2-0 loss at Anfield on Thursday

"But I felt for them at Anfield. They watched 11 players who didn't have a clue how big that football match was to those fans.

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"Van Gaal didn't have a clue how big the match was either. He is so far above himself that he didn't view that as a big game for the fans... either that or he is not worried about the fans getting the hump.

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"If it wasn't for [David] de Gea, it could have been five, at least. Manuel Neuer must be some goalkeeper if De Gea is not the best in the world. De Gea is a freak, he is that good it's bordering on ridiculous."

Merson criticised Van Gaal's team selection at Anfield, particularly Marcus Rashford's deployment in an unfamiliar position on the right-hand side of the United attack.

As a result, the 18-year-old was frozen out of the game, burdened by defensive responsibilities.

It was shocking, clueless, heartless, and brainless – one of the worst performances I’ve ever seen.
Paul Merson on Manchester United defeat

"I feel sorry for the young lad Marcus Rashford," Merson added. "He was virtually playing at right-back - he is a centre-forward learning his trade.

"He should have been brought out of the team after the Arsenal game and given a rest, a chance to recharge."

It was a view shared by Phil Thompson in the Soccer Saturday studio. He too believes Rashford should have been played in his favourable decision.

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"Rashford has scored four goals in two games playing at centre-forward," Thompson said. "He's a young lad so you can afford to have him in the team at that position.

"On Thursday, Van Gaal decided to play Anthony Martial - who has played on the left for much of the season - at centre-forward and Rashford on the right.

"Guillermo Varela was following Philippe Coutinho to the penalty spot and Rashford was stood looking around wondering what to do. It was incredible."

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