Christmas is regarded as the season of goodwill but there is precious little currently on supply for Brendan Rodgers, with the Liverpool boss entrenched in his first major crisis at Anfield.
This was the start of a crucial period for the Northern Irishman but the Reds followed up their elimination from the Champions League with a 3-0 defeat in their bitter rivals’ own backyard.
The next two games could go a long way to deciding Rodgers’s fate at Anfield. Losses in the quarter-finals of the League Cup to Bournemouth in midweek and then to Arsenal on Sunday could spell the beginning of the end of the 41-year-old’s time on Merseyside – just six months after he came so close to ending Liverpool’s 24-year wait for a league title.
Against United, Rodgers made the bold decision to drop under-fire goalkeeper Simon Mignolet for Brad Jones and start without a recognised striker, with Raheem Sterling handed the responsibility to lead Liverpool’s attack in a new look 3-4-3 formation.
It was one of those days when a manager would be totally judged on his team selection and, unfortunately for Rodgers, his failed to pay dividends.
The decision to drop Mignolet after a string of unconvincing displays did not come as a major surprise but to do it in such an important game was puzzling, especially given that Rodgers later admitted that he had been pondering such a move for several weeks.
Jones’s performance was patchy at best, with the No.2 arguably beaten too easily for the first and third goals. He certainly is not worthy of becoming Liverpool’s first choice, despite Rodgers admitting that he will be in the first team “indefinitely” following Mignolet’s recent struggles.
“I felt I had to change it because we have to find solutions throughout the squad to be better,” the manager said after the game.