‘Arrogance’, Gakpo and is there an upside? – Last word on Man United 4-3 Liverpool

Liverpool got what they deserved at Man United for their lack of cutting edge and poor game management, so where does this leave Jurgen Klopp‘s side with a possible 15 games remaining?

It’s a hard result to get out of your head, one minute you’ve convinced yourself you have moved on and then the next your reminded about another moment which could have changed everything.

The Reds missed out on another domestic cup semi-final thanks to their own mismanagement, United were hanging on by their fingernails and yet they were allowed back into the game on more than one occasion.

The statistics speak volumes about Liverpool’s downfall, and here we take a more personal view from Joanna Durkan (@JoannaDurkan_) and Jack Lusby (@LusbyJack) on what went wrong at Old Trafford.


A woeful way to crash out of the cup, what did you make of Liverpool’s game management?

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Sunday, March 17, 2024: Manchester United's Antony Matheus dos Santos celebrates after scoring an equalising goal to level the score 2-2 during the FA Cup Quarter-Final match between Manchester United FC and Liverpool FC at Old Trafford. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

JO: It was hard to watch, in fairness. You shouldn’t need another goal when 2-1 up to guarantee a win, but you could just sense our domination without an end product would bite us in the butt.

It felt inevitable.

Klopp’s subs were not effective and it invited them back into the game, then poor decision-making just gifted them the two goals in extra time. Honestly, what were thinking having nine players in or close to their box for a corner when penalties were a minute away?

They do only have themselves to blame.

JACK: To put it bluntly, shocking.

There was almost an arrogance to the way they played for much of the second half; there’s composure on the ball and confidence in possession, and then there’s mocking the opponent for the sake of it.

Liverpool seemed to be playing it around United in the belief that, at 2-1, the game was already won.

Then, as Jo has explained, they were unable to regain that composure when they needed it at 2-2 and then 3-3.


And we can’t overlook the decision-making in attack, just how poor was it?

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Sunday, March 17, 2024: Liverpool's Darwin Núñez looks dejected after the FA Cup Quarter-Final match between Manchester United FC and Liverpool FC at Old Trafford. Man Utd won 4-3 in extra-time. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

JO: I don’t ever want to see that five-on-two ever again, how do we freeze so badly in that situation that we don’t even get a shot away?

We had another breakaway later on and the commentators were building it up as though they had not just seen us do absolutely nothing when we had better odds. Lucky them for not being traumatised.

Liverpool just felt like they weren’t in any hurry, that the goal would just come to them and, as Jack says, it wreaked of arrogance.

But if this brings them back down to earth and refocuses them for the run-in, it will have at least been for something.

JACK: The five-on-two counter is obviously the one, but there were a number of other incidents where Liverpool seemed to lose their focus.

Whether it was by instruction or instinct, the decision to throw almost everyone forward for the corner that led to Diallo’s winner – and the mixup between Endo and Elliott that sparked United’s break – didn’t seem like one this Liverpool side would make.

There’s no doubt fatigue played its part, perhaps mentally more than physically.


Cody Gakpo has been getting a lot of stick for his cameo, is it fair?

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Sunday, March 17, 2024: Liverpool's Cody Gakpo (L) is challenged by Manchester United's Mason Mount during the FA Cup Quarter-Final match between Manchester United FC and Liverpool FC at Old Trafford. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

JACK: It’s normal after a result like this that modern fans look for a scapegoat – and Gakpo is an obvious one given how his afternoon played out.

You can’t overlook how reliable he has been as a squad player throughout the season: he’s played in four different positions, has clocked the sixth-most minutes and is fourth-top goalscorer.

But it’s hard to shake the feeling that he doesn’t quite fit the style of football the Liverpool of this season are playing.

He hasn’t been quick enough on or off the ball, though most worrying for me is the lack of urgency.

In my mind, the reaction to this performance is the culmination of weeks of frustration with Gakpo – and though he shouldn’t just be struck off, he really needs to look more like he’s trying.

BOURNEMOUTH, ENGLAND - Wednesday, November 1, 2023: Liverpool's Cody Gakpo during the Football League Cup 4th Round match between AFC Bournemouth and Liverpool FC at Dean Court. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

JO: He was far from the only player at fault but it’s symptomatic of the bigger issue at play, that he’s the fifth-choice forward without a defined role in this team.

For example, Diogo Jota is the poacher and if he was fit you would say Liverpool beat City and easily put United away.

Gone is the Gakpo who drew comparisons to Bobby’s role and now we have a player who doesn’t quite fit and for this match he looked disinterested and unbothered – not quite how a sub should operate!

Eighteen-year-old Jayden Danns would have been a better option off the bench and that speaks volumes.

I’ve been a fan of Gakpo since he arrived but he offered nothing and you can’t defend that. As Jack mentioned, he’s played a lot, but the minimum is work rate, but we didn’t even get that.


The quadruple bid is over, for you, is there any upside?

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Sunday, March 17, 2024: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp waves to the supporters after the FA Cup Quarter-Final match between Manchester United FC and Liverpool FC at Old Trafford. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

JO: Considering a semi-final against Coventry was on the cards, it does feel a bit worse knowing the odds of Klopp’s last-ever game being a cup final at Wembley had we progressed.

But perhaps it saves us from a potential final with City and that particular trauma, so that’s a plus.

It also means we don’t have to rearrange another league fixture to a midweek, so that means we get at least one break for the run-in, which we can’t underestimate having been here before.

The Premier League title is the top priority and I just want to see the lessons from this visit to Old Trafford have been learned by the time we return on April 7.

Only then will there be an upside.

JACK: As Jo mentions, it will no doubt be helpful to free up a bit of the calendar to avoid the issues we saw at Old Trafford again.

The Premier League and Europa League were always priorities, so go all out to win those two and it will be one of the greatest seasons the club has ever experienced.