Bruno Fernandes wants to use the disappointment of Manchester United’s defeat to rivals Liverpool to help accelerate improvement as they look to cut out set-piece slackness and wrap up second spot.
After anti-Glazer protests forced the postponement of the original fixture on May 2, the old foes finally went toe-to-toe on Thursday as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men stumbled at the end of their run of four games in eight days.
Fernandes skippered the side in the absence of injured Harry Maguire and got United’s night off to a dream start, only for Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino to put Liverpool into a half-time lead.
Firmino added another goal moments into the second half, with Marcus Rashford pulling one back before Mohamed Salah made it 4-2 at the death as the Reds won at Old Trafford for the first time since 2014.
“I think the performance was good,” Fernandes said. “We keep the ball well, we play side to side, we try to do what we trained at.
“But, at the end, when you go down 2-1 and you have to play 45 minutes against a team like Liverpool, trying to push a little bit more and create dangers, you give more space to them.
“They take that space, we concede another two goals.
“I think everyone was disappointed in the dressing room because we know we made big mistakes but we learn from that and we have to keep improving and understanding we are not at our best yet.”
There was some glaringly poor play by Solskjaer’s Red Devils on Thursday, when their soft underbelly from set pieces was yet again exposed in both of Liverpool’s first-half goals.
Fernandes knows that is simply not good enough and is determined to wrap up second spot when Fulham arrive on Tuesday in Old Trafford’s first match with fans since March 2020.
“We started well, we score, we create more chances after that,” the Portuguese playmaker said.
“And after we concede two goals from set pieces and, as we know, we have to work on that. We concede many goals this season from set pieces.
“As I said before, everyone is disappointed in the dressing room and we know we have to improve.
“We have to do better and we have to do it right now in the next game against Fulham because we want to secure second place.”
United round off their Premier League fixtures at Wolves after hosting relegated Fulham, but the main focus is on the May 26 shot at Europa League glory against Villarreal in the Gdansk finale.
“The confidence has to be high,” Fernandes told MUTV. “We know what we have done all season.
“We can’t go down after a defeat. Of course it hurts, hurts a lot, but we have to understand, we have to learn from this and not be afraid in the next game to do something
“We have to keep improving. We know we are not at our best yet so it’s time to be improving, keep improving and now improving from the mistakes we did today and doing better in the next one.”
While United look to end the season with silverware, Jurgen Klopp’s first victory at Old Trafford has given Liverpool’s hopes of reaching the top four a huge shot in the arm.
The Reds have a great chance of making the Champions League spots with three matches to play and top-four rivals Chelsea and Leicester playing one another next week – an opportunity Thiago Alcantara is determined to grab.
“I think we correct a couple of mistakes from the past and we are reaching, not the best, but near a great version of us,” the midfielder told the club website.
“At the end, we have the same goal as each other – that’s to reach the Champions League and the top four in the Premier League.
“I think the most important message that we have to have now for us, for the fans, for our families, for everybody from the Liverpool side is that we have a final (against West Brom) on Sunday.
“That’s the most important message that we have to give.”
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