'Liverpool are better than us' - Mourinho
Jose Mourinho chose his words carefully, and they proved to be as candid as they were concerning for Manchester United as their worst start to an English Premier League (EPL) season hit a new low.
"Liverpool," Mourinho said, "is a better team than us."
Liverpool's 3-1 win over their great rival yesterday was confirmation of that - although they still needed two strokes of luck to underline the gulf that has quickly grown between English football's two grandest clubs.
Xherdan Shaqiri came off the bench and scored goals from deflected shots in the 73rd and 80th minutes to finally give Liverpool daylight in a match they dominated from the start at Anfield. In total, Liverpool had 36 shots to United's six.
The gap between Liverpool in first place and United in sixth place extended to 19 points after just 17 games.
"We cannot compare with their intensity," Mourinho said, "we cannot compare with their physicality."
The sight of former United manager Alex Ferguson looking glum in the stands and United's record signing, Paul Pogba, burying his head in his thick training top to shield himself from the driving rain summed up the state of United at the moment.
United are one point above seventh-placed Wolverhampton Wanderers and 11 behind fourth-placed Chelsea.
Shaqiri's intervention spared Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson Becker from some of his embarrassment after the Brazil international gifted United their equaliser by fumbling a fairly tame cross from Romelu Lukaku into the path of Jesse Lingard in the 33rd minute.
That goal cancelled out the 24th-minute opener from Sadio Mane, which came amid a breathless start from Liverpool as United's defence was opened up constantly.
"The mix-up of big fight and really playing football against an unbelievably strong team," Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said of his team's performance, which he described as "one of the best we've had" in his three-year tenure.
Liverpool reclaimed their one-point lead over Manchester City with nearly half the season gone. United, meanwhile, are on 26 points - their lowest haul after 17 games since the 1990-91 season - and have a goal difference of zero.
Yesterday's EPL results:
- Brighton 1-2 Chelsea
- Southampton 3-2 Arsenal
- Liverpool 3-1 Man United