“Ruthless to toothless” — How the papers reacted to Man Utd 3-0 Liverpool

We round up Monday morning’s back pages and media reaction to Liverpool’s 3-0 defeat at Manchester United — a seventh Premier League defeat of the season for Brendan Rodgers’ side. Be warned, it’s not pretty.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Sunday, December 14, 2014: Liverpool's captain Steven Gerrard looks dejected as his side lose 3-0 to Manchester United during the Premier League match at Old Trafford. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It was a frustrating afternoon at Old Trafford for Liverpool and one which, by Rodgers’ own admission, summed up Liverpool’s season.

Two constants are running through the Reds’ 2014/15 campaign — huge errors at the back and a lack of firepower up front. Sunday’s defeat epitomised both of those characteristics.

Following Tottenham‘s victory over Swansea later in the afternoon, Liverpool sit 10th in the Premier League table, looking a shadow of their former selves.

Liverpool will feel further infuriated with defeat on Sunday by the lack of quality their opponents showed, buts Michael Cox points out in The Guardian, United simply took their chances and had a heroic goalkeeping performance from David de Gea to thank for a clean sheet.

The match was settled by the quality of finishing and the quality of goalkeeping. Between the boxes this was a scrappy, uninspiring mess of a match. There were two massive contrasts – the coolness of United’s shooting compared with the timid nature of Sterling’s attempts, and Brad Jones’s strange habit of diving early, compared with De Gea’s imposing, commanding stance in one-on-one situations.

Ian Herbert of the Independent bemoans Dejan Lovren‘s transformation from a Southampton defender amongst the best in the Premier League to a weak drip in Liverpool’s leaky defence. He points the finger somewhat at Martin Skrtel.

It was Skrtel’s duty, in the middle of that back three today, to organise those on each side of him. Instead, the yard of space he granted Van Persie to leap and twist into the header that set up United’s second belonged to his serial failure to get tight on the strikers in front of him.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Sunday, December 14, 2014: Liverpool's xxxx in action against Manchester United during the Premier League match at Old Trafford. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Phil McNulty, Chief Football Writer at BBC Sport, must have been chuffed with his headline, “Liverpool – from ruthless to toothless in nine months”, because he uses it again in his post-match comment.

His [Rodgers’] selection for the 3-0 defeat at Manchester United was his boldest yet – the sort of pick that would have been labelled a masterpiece had it resulted in success. But margins are fine, and missed chances, allied to the brilliance of De Gea, merely increased the pressure on the Northern Irishman.

United were ruthless, Liverpool toothless. They have scored 19 goals in 16 matches. At this point last year they had found the net 39 times.

Indeed, BBC Sport also draw to our attention this morning that it is Liverpool’s worst start to a league campaign in 50 years.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Sunday, December 14, 2014: Liverpool's manager Brendan Rodgers during the Premier League match against Manchester United at Old Trafford. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Oliver Holt of the Daily Mirror tries to restore some order to proceedings, reminding Liverpool fans criticising Rodgers of his achievements earlier this year.

Last season, they may have scoffed privately at the psychological methods he spoke about so often.

This season, they are mocking them openly. It does not take a hostile stadium screaming at him to make him realise that opinion is turning against him.

It is to be hoped, for the club’s sake, though, that John W Henry and FSG hold their nerve and still their trigger finger.

Liverpool turn their attentions to the League Cup and a quarter-final trip to Bournemouth on Wednesday, but with one eye on the visit of Arsenal in the league next Sunday.

It could be a difficult festive fixture period for Liverpool fans, who may need to sit tight for reinforcements in the January transfer window.