Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said it is “a fact” that Manchester United always set up to defend against his side at Old Trafford.
Klopp’s Premier League leaders needed a late Adam Lallana equaliser on Sunday to earn a 1-1 draw against Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side, who are two points above the relegation zone.
The German has failed to record a single win in five visits to United.
“This year, last year, the year before, they just defend,” he said.
“That’s how it is. It is OK. It is no criticism. It is just a fact.
“When you think about Manchester United against Liverpool, you think both teams are trying like this. But it is not. We try.”
The result brings to an end Liverpool’s 17-match winning run in the Premier League, meaning they fall one short of matching Manchester City’s record tally of 18 consecutive top-flight victories.
The Anfield side remain top of the Premier League but their lead over City has been cut from eight to six points.
Mourinho on Liverpool’s ‘limitations’
Former Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho was a television pundit at the match and he said Klopp’s teams “have limitations against teams with low blocks”.
“He [Klopp] didn’t like the menu – he likes meat and he got fish,” Mourinho told Sky Sports.
“United, with the limitations they have at the moment, played with five at the back, were solid and didn’t give the chance of transition. Jurgen didn’t like the menu.
“Liverpool missed quality to play against a team with a low block.
“They can smash opponents that play the way they want to play against.
“Jurgen clearly has frustrations. It’s a fantastic situation for his team but at Old Trafford – which is a special place to win – he never did it.”
Liverpool dominated possession, 68% to 32%. They also had more shots and more shots on target but had to wait until the 85th minute for Lallana’s equaliser after Marcus Rashford had given United a first-half lead.
“We are the one team where everyone is on their toes when United play against us,” said Klopp.
“We don’t have to say it is a compliment. We are a good team. When you play against somebody it is normal for them to think about how they can stop us.”
Klopp’s Manchester United counterpart Solskjaer refused to respond to those comments directly.
However, it is true that the two Premier League games United have won this season – against Chelsea and Leicester – came when they have played on the counter-attack and on this occasion they utilised three centre-backs, two wing-backs and looked for the pace of Rashford and Daniel James on the break.
“We set the team up to attack and be aggressive and create chances and we did that,” said the Norwegian.
“We are better when we attack quickly, with no dilly-dallying on the ball. We need to be more direct, take more risks and be braver. It doesn’t matter if you lose the ball higher up the pitch because you can win it back.
“That is more or less how Liverpool did it in the Champions League final [against Tottenham] and after 40 seconds they won a penalty. It’s playing the right type of football, and being more direct helped us.”
VAR must change – Klopp
The game’s major talking point surrounded Rashford’s goal, with Klopp adamant his side should have been awarded a free-kick by referee Martin Atkinson for a challenge by Victor Lindelof on Divock Origi in the build-up.
It was the latest example of the video assistant referee upholding the on-field official’s judgment. In fact, only two ‘subjective decisions’ have been changed by VAR in the Premier League all season – with most reversals down to factual incidents such as offside.
“I think most people thought it was a foul,” said the Liverpool manager. “I am sure it was a foul. Mr Atkinson let the game go on because he knew we had VAR. As soon as they scored they checked it but then it was not obvious because with a challenge you cannot always be 100% sure. But without VAR I am 100% sure Atkinson would have blown for a foul.
“It’s great for offside and handball but for these situations we have not got it right yet. I was so confident that it was going to be overturned.
“It has to change that not many decisions are overturned.
“Look at Manchester City yesterday – it was so clear and obvious that Kevin de Bruyne was pushed [against Crystal Palace] and if I am saying Manchester City should have had a penalty then it must have been a penalty.”
Solskjaer had a very different view.
“No chance,” he said. “We are not playing basketball.
“It’s maybe a slight touch but it’s not a clear and obvious error. It’s still a man’s game with tackles allowed.”
‘A step in the right direction but not enough’
In a rare interview before the match, United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward told fanzine United We Stand that “we absolutely feel we are on the right track to getting back to winning trophies”.
This result leaves the Old Trafford club in 13th place after their worst start to a top-flight season since 1986-87.
A defeat at Norwich in their next Premier League fixture would leave them level on points with the second-from-bottom Canaries.
And Solskjaer said he is aware of the need to quickly end a run of four Premier League games without a win.
“You can’t look too far in the future – we need to win more games and today was a lost opportunity,” he said.
“As a manager you want results now – you can’t lose four, five or six games on the bounce. We’re looking to win games as soon as possible. Today was a step in the right direction but just not enough.”