Irwin's message to the Reds

Sunday 05 March 2023 20:17

Manchester United legend Denis Irwin believes Erik ten Hag's side must not lose focus on the bigger picture after the 7-0 defeat at Liverpool.

The Irishman, one of the finest defenders of his generation, pointed to the way Alex Ferguson's team recovered from heavy losses to Newcastle United and Southampton in 1996 in order to achieve their objectives, winning the title that season, as a way in which everybody must be honest about what went wrong on the day, and come back stronger as a unit.

Offering no excuses for the second-half collapse on Merseyside, Irwin was clear that the side needs to regain our composure ahead of the upcoming games with Real Betis and Southampton, and aim for more silverware to follow the Carabao Cup, while ensuring we clinch Champions League qualification next term.

Ten Hag's reaction to Anfield defeat


The manager is angry after the Liverpool loss, labelling the second-half display "unprofessional".

"I see this a one-off," Irwin told MUTV. "We’ve shown great resilience this year. We had two big defeats but bounced back from them. It’s one of those and we’re hugely disappointed. It’s a drubbing and it’s not the best place to get a drubbing as well, to your biggest rivals.

"It’s hard to take. You could say all the things but it’s one of those where the manager will obviously be fuming and it’s one you have to forget as quickly as possible, to get up and running again. On Thursday, it’s Real Betis and then at home to Southampton on Sunday.

"You have to accept it sometimes and have to hold your hands up. It just didn’t happen in the second half. The two goals just after half-time killed us. We never looked like getting back into it, it was just a case of the sooner the game finished, the better for us.

"I haven’t seen us defend as badly as that this season and I include the 4-0 at Brentford and 6-3 at City," he added. "When it goes against you, it can go against you. It was an awful afternoon but we’ve got to refocus. We’re still involved in a lot of cup competitions and have had a hectic schedule but I’m not putting that down as an excuse. You never put anything down as an excuse for 7-0. We’ve still got an awful lot to play for but it’s a tough one to take, it really is."

In terms of how we react as a group to the demoralising loss, the former full-back brought up those heavy defeats in his time under Sir Alex Ferguson, which still failed to derail our ambitions.

"Well, I think it’s down to the manager and staff and the leaders within that team to accept what happened, happened," he said. "We lost 5-0 to Newcastle and, the following week, we got beat 6-3 at Southampton but we went back to win the league that season. It’s one of those things. It’s horrible and not the nicest place to go, against your biggest rivals, and we were probably the most confident going into a game at Anfield in the last six or seven years with the way the manager has turned us around this season.

"We’ve been so resilient and hard to beat, had a lot of comebacks and been in fine form, scoring goals for fun. It’s one of those where they go in tomorrow and, if I was manager, I’d walk them down to a greasy café and let them have whatever they want and take it from there. Make sure we’re in it together. I’d just say: listen, you’ve done brilliant and been on a hell of a run, we won the cup  last Sunday, here we are a week later, getting a 7-0 beating. That’s football. We just have to accept it wasn’t our day.

"If you looked at the start of the season, you’d hope for a trophy and a top-four finish. The results below us went for us on Saturday, Spurs and Newcastle lost, and we must still focus on the top four and pick ourselves up. Southampton is the next league game, at home, and it’s a big game for us next Sunday."