Members of Liverpool’s staff believe referee Anthony Taylor took pity on Manchester United as they were comprehensively mauled 5-0 by Jurgen Klopp’s side.
Liverpool were four goals up at the break, courtesy of strikes from Mohamed Salah, Diogo Jota and Naby Keita, and things went from bad to worse for United as Salah added a fifth after the interval and Paul Pogba was shown a red card for a reckless challenge.
United ended the game with ten men, but according to The Athletic, there’s a belief that more players could have been sent off and the officials actually ‘took pity’ on United to avoid making things even more embarrassing.
Cristiano Ronaldo was particularly fortunate to escape a first-half dismissal for aggressively kicking a ball at a prone Curtis Jones, with some believing VAR chose to spare Ronaldo.
Some close to the young midfielder were full of praise for his response, insisting Jones might have reacted badly when he was younger, but showed maturity in letting senior teammates handle the backlash.
Jones was again on the receiving end of a tough challenge from Bruno Fernandes after the break, shortly before Harry Maguire brought Jota down as the last man when Liverpool were already 5-0 up.
Finally, there is also a feeling that Taylor probably should have sent midfielder Fred off for a dangerously high boot towards the face of Keita, who would be stretchered off the pitch a few minutes later following the clash with Pogba.
Liverpool do not believe Taylor, who was born and raised in Greater Manchester, was guilty of harbouring any bias – Reds officials are actually full of praise for the official – but they reckon that Taylor and his team chose to give United some leeway to avoid them being on the wrong end of even more humiliation.
Fortunately, few at Liverpool really cared about the officiating during the game. Their job was done and history was made nonetheless.