All eyes will be firmly fixed on Old Trafford on Monday when a badly struggling Manchester United side host Liverpool in one of the most eagerly anticipated fixtures in world football.
United manager Erik ten Hag already finds himself under massive pressure after humiliating back-to-back defeats to Brighton and Brentford at the start of the new season.
While United may have beaten Liverpool 4-1 in a pre-season ‘friendly’ last month under Ten Hag, this will be the Dutchman’s first real taste of the bitter rivalry in its true form.
Should he lose, expect the odds to be further slashed on the former Ajax boss becoming the first managerial casualty of the new Premier League campaign.
Ahead of the match, we take a look at how each of the last five Manchester United managers – short-term caretakers aside – got on in their first competitive clash with the Reds.
Ralf Rangnick – Liverpool 4-0 Manchester United (April 19, 2022)
Ralf Rangnick suffered a heavy defeat to Liverpool at Anfield (Image: Alamy)Ten Hag’s predecessor at Old Trafford came up against Liverpool just once during his ill-fated spell as interim manager at Old Trafford. And like so many games for United in the latter stages of last season, it ended in an embarrassing defeat for the Red Devils.
Bereft of confidence after a 5-0 loss at home to Liverpool earlier in the season, United were once again ripped apart at Anfield as goals from Luis Diaz, Sadio Mane and a brace from Mohamed Salah secured a crushing 4-0 win for the Reds.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer – Manchester United 0-0 Liverpool (February 24, 2019)
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s first competitive match against Liverpool as United manager ended as a goalless draw (Image: Alamy)Former United striker Solsksjaer was appointed interim manager at Old Trafford midway through the 2018-19 season after Jose Mourinho was sacked following a 3-1 defeat to Liverpool at Anfield.
An experienced veteran of the fixture from his playing days and as Cardiff manager, Solskjaer had his first match against Liverpool as United boss the following February. But the eagerly anticipated match turned out to be a damp squib, ending 0-0 – the first goalless draw of Solskjaer’s reign as manager.
In the end, like Mourinho, a heavy defeat to Liverpool would also contribute to Solskjaer losing his job at Old Trafford. A 5-0 loss at home to the Reds last October piled the pressure on the Norwegian before he was sacked just weeks later following a chastening 4-1 loss at the hands of Watford.
Jose Mourinho – Liverpool 0-0 Manchester United (October 17, 2016)
Jose Mourinho’s United ground out a goalless draw at Anfield in 2016 (Image: Alamy)The ‘Special One’ developed a fierce rivalry with Liverpool during his time as Chelsea manager and continued it as United boss, grinding out a goalless draw in his first match against the Reds with a classic Mourinho performance away from home.
United had just 35 per cent of possession in the match – at the time their lowest in a Premier League since Opta began recording data in 2003 – but still managed to take a point away from Anfield, denying Liverpool the chance to move level on points with league leaders Manchester City in the process.
As previously mentioned, after a poor run of form in the 2018-19 season, a 3-1 defeat to Liverpool would be the coup de grâce for Mourinho at United, with the club’s board sacking him just days after the loss at Anfield.
Louis van Gaal – Manchester United 3-0 Liverpool (December 14, 2014)
United thrashed Liverpool 3-0 under Van Gaal in 2014 (Image: Alamy)Like his compatriot Ten Hag, fellow Dutchman Van Gaal guided Manchester United to a victory over Liverpool in pre-season following his appointment as manager, with goals from Wayne Rooney, Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard securing a 3-1 win for the Red Devils in a warm-up match in Miami, Florida.
Ten Hag will also be hoping for a similar result to Van Gaal’s first competitive match against Liverpool, which ended in a convincing 3-0 win for United at Old Trafford. Rooney and Mata once again found the net, with Robin van Persie rounding off the scoring for the home side to inflict a damaging defeat on Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool.
United would follow that up with a 2-1 win at Anfield later in the campaign thanks to a superb brace from Mata. The following season, United would beat Liverpool home and away again under Van Gaal. But it was not enough to save the Dutchman, who sacked at the end of the campaign having failed to secure a top four finish.
David Moyes – Liverpool 1-0 Manchester United (September 1, 2013)
Moyes suffered a 1-0 defeat to Liverpool early on in his short spell as United manager (Image: Alamy)Hand-picked by Sir Alex Ferguson to be his successor, Moyes began his United tenure by beating Wigan Athletic in the Community Shield before a convincing 4-1 win away at Swansea in their Premier League opener. But he was quickly brought back down to earth with a bump. After being held to a goalless draw by Chelsea, United were then beaten 1-0 away at Liverpool thanks to a third successive winner of the season from Daniel Sturridge.
Ahead of the return fixture, Moyes made the mistake of referring to second-place Liverpool as “favourites” before the match at Old Trafford – with United languishing down in sixth place at the time. Inspired by Luis Suarez, the Reds cruised to a 3-0 win thanks to two Steven Gerrard penalties and a late goal from the brilliant Uruguayan.
A 3-0 defeat to rival Manchester City later that month further damaged Moyes’ reputation among United fans and the Scotsman was sacked in April, less than 12 months into his six-year deal at Old Trafford.
Ten Hag will be desperate to avoid a similar fate this season.