Liverpool loss highlights problems for Man Utd brand

MANCHESTER, England: Manchester United’s owners pride themselves on their club being the biggest brand in world football, a global product with millions of followers worldwide. But for how long will that boast last?
For after Sunday’s 3-1 defeat at Liverpool, they must surely be aware that there is only so much failure a brand can endure before it begins to be seriously tarnished.
The rivalry with Liverpool runs deep at United, resonating far beyond England’s north-west. These matches are occasions which connect with the club’s history, where passion and pride take centre stage.
Yet United looked a mediocre, mid-table side as they were quite outclassed. Now, they are 19 points behind Premier League leaders Liverpool, the Merseysiders’ biggest advantage over United after 17 games of a top-flight season.
But the numbers, while alarming enough for United supporters, do not paint the full picture of the vast gulf between the two teams.
Under Juergen Klopp, last season’s Champions League final lists Liverpool are playing a thrilling brand of high-speed, entertaining, positive football, executed by some of the game’s most exciting talents. Like the United of old, indeed.
Jose Mourinho’s prosaic, sixth-placed United, in contrast, are 11 points adrift of fourth place so that even qualification for next season’s Champions League looks an outside chance at best.
They have not even been close to winning the title since their last triumph in 2013 and few of the club’s fans disagree with former captain Gary Neville’s verdict that the club need a “reset”.
So, when do the Glazer family, the club’s American owners, press that reset button? And how exactly will they then attempt to turn around the fortunes of the record 20-times English champions.
After Sunday’s game, Mourinho effectively conceded his team lacked the qualities, particularly the “physicality”, needed to compete with Liverpool. Roy Keane, another former captain from United’s dazzling years under Alex Ferguson, told Sky Sports: “Obviously we look at the badges, we look at the history … but some of these players just aren’t good enough for Man United.”
Is that true, though? Some United players, after all, have proved themselves with other clubs and on the international stage.
Like Paul Pogba, an outstanding World Cup winner with France, who was on the bench at Anfield on Sunday — the third straight game that Mourinho has sidelined him. — Reuters