LONDON • Manchester United came within five minutes of pulling off their best result since they beat Paris Saint-Germain in March.
Had they done so, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer would have been hailed for his tactical genius, for the boldness of the changes that forced Liverpool into probably their worst performance of the season and for the vision that found a plan from the most unpromising pieces.
While the 1-1 draw on Sunday night left United only two points above the relegation zone, the manager believes that ending Liverpool's 100 per cent start to the Premier League season could "turn their season".
Solskjaer revealed that the hosts, who opened the scoring in the first half through Marcus Rashford before substitute Adam Lallana levelled late on, were disappointed because they felt they should have won.
But there were positives to take as his side had been clear underdogs with just two wins from their opening eight games.
"It was a great response from the boys. We have a team that work for each other," said the Norwegian.
"Our fans showed they can see what's happening and we will get there. We're looking to win games as soon as possible. Today was a step in the right direction."
NOT HIS FAVOURITE DISH
He didn't like the menu - he likes meat and he got fish.
'' JOSE MOURINHO, former Manchester United manager, on how Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp was angered by United not allowing his team to play their game.
FOOTBALL SHOULD BE TOUGH
It's still a man's game with tackles allowed.
'' OLE GUNNAR SOLSKJAER, United manager, who added that they were "not playing basketball" - a dig at Liverpool players for shooting hoops in training before the match.
Pundits like Danny Murphy and Darren Fletcher also felt the display was "something to build on", and the manager hailed his players for taking the game to the European champions by "creating a tempo in the stadium the opposition don't like".
Jurgen Klopp has now failed to win in five visits to Old Trafford, and despite the visitors dominating possession 68 to 32 per cent, there was a lack of cutting edge from Liverpool, which Solskjaer felt was a result of United's "unpredictability".
He added: "We always used to play like that early on, get the ball forward and turn teams, it gives you a foothold in the game to play football... we have been like that today.
"We are better when we attack quickly, with no dilly-dallying on the ball. We need to be more direct, take more risks and be braver. It doesn't matter if you lose the ball higher up the pitch because you can win it back."
Klopp, left frustrated as his table-topping Reds failed to pull level with defending champions Manchester City's record tally of 18 consecutive top-flight victories, hit out at the video assistant referee (VAR) and Solskjaer's tactics.
The German manager was aggrieved Liverpool were not awarded a free kick for a "clear foul" on Divock Origi in the build-up to United's opener, saying: "This is a problem we have to discuss. I was 100 per cent sure that VAR would overrule (Rashford's goal).
"This year, last year, the year before, they (United) just defend. That's how it is. It is OK. It is no criticism. It is just a fact.
"When you think about Manchester United against Liverpool, you think both teams are trying like this. But it is not. We try."
But Solskjaer dismissed Klopp's criticism of Victor Lindelof's tackle which led to the breakthrough counter, claiming "it's still a man's game with tackles allowed".
Jose Mourinho also leapt to the defence of his successor, who he felt exposed the Reds' "limitations against teams with low blocks".
"He (Klopp) didn't like the menu - he likes meat and he got fish," the Portuguese told Sky Sports.
"United played with five at the back, were solid and didn't give the chance of transition. At Old Trafford, which is a special place to win, he never did it."
REUTERS, THE GUARDIAN
Premier League talking points
1. GREALISH IS CAPTAIN MATERIAL FOR VILLA
Some infrequent observers may think Jack Grealish is an overhyped luxury player, but he is far more than just an artful creator.
Since being made the Aston Villa captain after returning from injury in March, he has led by example through grafting on the pitch.
An outstanding performance in the 2-1 win over 10-man Brighton was the latest evidence, leading manager Dean Smith to talk up his lesser-discussed attributes, with Grealish being "one of our top distance-coverers and one of our top high-speed runners".
2. PULISIC COULD SPELL GIROUD'S END WITH BLUES
It felt as if Chelsea were crying out for Olivier Giroud's hold-up play when they struggled to break down Newcastle, but Frank Lampard's decision to introduce the more creative Christian Pulisic paid off when the United States midfielder played a part in Marcos Alonso's winner in the 1-0 victory.
The France striker was an unused substitute again and that could harden his desire to leave in January.
The 33-year-old needs to keep his place in France's squad for Euro 2020 and having complained about his lack of opportunities during the international break, the writing could be on the wall for Giroud.
3. ZAHA AFFECTED BY FAILED TRANSFER IN THE SUMMER
It has been 10 matches since Wilfried Zaha last scored for Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park and his goal against West Ham in February was the only time he scored at home last season, despite reaching double figures for the first time in his career.
While there were some encouraging signs in the 2-0 defeat by Manchester City on Saturday, the Ivory Coast forward looks as though he is still dwelling over his failed attempt to instigate a transfer in the summer.
Palace travel to former suitors Arsenal on Sunday and Zaha will be only too aware that he must start playing well if he is going to convince anyone to pay the £80 million (S$141.4 million) fee that the Eagles are demanding.