Jose wins battle but Klopp can still win war

THE humble pie has been eaten, but there's still a smattering of egg on the face. Credit where credit is due: Jose Mourinho still knows how to mastermind a victory in a big game.

The bus? Deployed only later to protect a lead but it takes nothing away from how United achieved it. Route One – long ball, flick on and wham, bam, thank you ma'am.

Liverpool's Achilles heel, the right side of defence, was ruthlessly exposed and in 10 minutes the game was won and lost.

Their gears weren't meshing even before the goals and the Portuguese was a worthy winner of the tactical battle on this occasion.

He pinpointed and pounced on Liverpool's weak links that Jurgen Klopp was pretending were no longer there.

The German had applied the soldering iron to decent effect on both Trent Alexander-Arnold and Dejan Lovren, but Romelu Lukaku had a long memory.

The big Belgian had bullied Lovren before – while at Everton – and would do so again here. The reminder was brutal: Liverpool are not quite there yet and Lovren will never get there.

At 19, Alexander-Arnold is young enough and talented enough to make it, but Lovren is a liability at this level. This was not quite as bad as his brain fade at Spurs but bad enough.

He seems to freeze on the big occasion and you had to wonder why he was preferred to 6'5" Joel Matip who is taller than Lukaku. Not as robust as the United man but a cooler customer than Lovren by a distance.

The Croat's subsequent tackles on Marouane Fellaini were the desperate lunges of a man in the Last Chance Saloon. He must now surely join Simon Mignolet in the exit lounge. If not, you shudder to think of what could happen in the Champions League.

But he should not be the sole scapegoat for an afternoon of almost manic frustration for Liverpool.
Nothing worked and they were getting nothing from a referee who believed in letting the game flow even at the expense of the basic rules.

More stone-wall than Liverpool's rearguard were two penalty claims and, you couldn't help but feel, had it been at Anfield, a beseeching Kop may have swayed things. But Liverpool cannot just blame the ref: they have to blame themselves for leaving their A game back on Merseyside.

No one deserved more than a six out of 10 and the Fab Three were a highly frustrated trio. Mo Salah's last minute ballooning of a volley with his precious left foot was an apt finale to his worst afternoon in a Liverpool shirt.

This was not the phenomenal Pharoah: more like the Salah that Mourinho hastily sent packing at Chelsea. In mitigation, his supply lines were cut off, the tactic perhaps Mourinho's belated acknowledgment of his own epic mistake.

Everyone is entitled to a bad day at the office and just as Liverpool had theirs, they should not panic. They did not fall into an abyss – they hit a speed bump and should heed the lessons.

Maybe we were all getting a bit carried away – they are not quite where we thought they were. Another centreback is a must and Nat Clyne is also needed Asap. Perhaps even a seasoned goal poacher as another option as, frankly, what is the point of Dom Solanke?

Another concern is the away form against Big Six clubs. Previously they have crashed 5-0 to City, 4-1 at Spurs and drawn 3-3 with Arsenal. Last season, the Reds topped the Big Six mini-league.

This was their first League defeat for four months, they're in the last eight of the Champions League and top four of the Premier League should be nailed on. Second, third or fourth … it doesn't matter as long as you get a top four slot.

As for United, Marcus Rashford showed what serious potential he has – his first goal was sublime – and in Lukaku Mourinho has his Drogba-style battering ram. He also got terrific performances out of the makeshift fullbacks, Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young, who may have played himself into England's World Cup squad.

They all did their job and with Eric Bailly stiffening their defence, United are a hard team to beat. In that regard, they probably benefitted from Paul Pogba's absence but Mourinho still can't get a tune out of Alexis Sanchez.

Devils will still be savouring the bragging rights, but even this sweetest of hours for them, a sour note was struck: when it was time to call for Fellaini, it was local hero Rashford who was sacrificed – to loud boos from a sizable chunk of Old Trafford. It was a reminder that although the manager was winning this battle, he is still a long way from winning over the fans.

Both clubs are a couple of players short of a team capable of winning either the League or Champions League. If Manchester City are setting the gold standard, United are five points closer in the table but Liverpool are a whole lot closer in style.

It may not seem much consolation after a painful defeat, but Klopp and the Fenway Group are playing a long game.

Good, Bad, Ugly and Stupid

Good – Marcus Rashford
If Sanchez had scored that sensational first goal, no one would have been surprised – it's what you expect of a world-class player. That it was the local boy, just 20, made it all the sweeter for United fans. Rashford is a class act and can produce it on the big occasion.

Bad – West Ham
Losing 4-1 at home to Burnley was bad but far worse is the civil war between fans and board and between different fan groups. It all goes back to the ill-fated move to the London Olympic stadium which now seems cursed. When players have to wrestle with their own fans on the pitch, you know it's serious. David Moyes does pick his clubs, doesn't he?

Ugly – Owner on pitch with gun!
This sounds like a 'man bites dog' story. Greek football maintained its reputation for being highly flammable when PAOK owner Ivan Savvidis came onto the pitch with a gun and threatened referee Giorgos Kominos. It was over a disallowed goal against AEK Athens which the ref then decided to allow. All this without VAR …

Stupid (and disgusting) – Jamie Carragher
Better not get within spitting distance of this pundit after a Liverpool defeat! The ex-skipper-turned-TV expert has apologised for delivering what can only be called 'a real mouthful' to a 14-year-old girl from his car. It may not be enough to save his job.