Wayne Rooney described the atmosphere in the Manchester United dressing room as a "nightmare" after Liverpool inflicted the sixth and most humiliating home defeat of a disastrous season.
With his close friend and Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard noting that Brendan Rodgers' side were disappointed not to have won by a greater margin than 3-0, Rooney said: "It is like a nightmare. It is one of the worst days I have ever had in football.
"It is hard to take. You have go give Liverpool credit; they played well but it is difficult for us to take. Nobody wants to lose, especially in this way, in your own stadium."
The shambolic nature of United's performance was demonstrated by the fact that they conceded three penalties and finished the match with 10 men after their captain, Nemanja Vidic, who is quitting the club for Internazionale at the end of the season, brought down Daniel Sturridge. Gerrard missed one spot kick but United might have given away two more and Diego Maradona, watching from the directors' box, saw his spiritual successor, Luis Suarez, put away Liverpool's third.
Rooney admitted "the game plan went out the window when we went two down", although few imagined that a tactically incoherent United ever possessed any such thing as a plan. Unless they play with considerably more discipline on Wednesday night they will be eliminated from the Champions League, a competition nobody here expects them to re-qualify for.
The only time Maradona played at Old Trafford was in 1984 when a Manchester United side driven forward by Bryan Robson overturned a two-goal deficit in the Cup-Winners' Cup against Barcelona. That is precisely what United have to do against Olympiakos to remain in the Champions League. Unless they do, David Moyes' position as manager will seem even more perilous than it does two months before the end of his first season of a six-year contract.
The most damning statistic against Moyes is that under him the champions of England have managed to beat only one team in the top nine of the Premier League. "That tells you that we are not doing as well as we should be," he said with considerable understatement.
"We have to play better and we are going to have to make ourselves harder to beat. We have got to make sure we are creating more and taking more of our opportunities."
In what Sir Alex Ferguson, who was watching from the stands, always described as United's most important fixture of the season, Moyes named an aggressive starting line-up featuring Rooney, Robin van Persie, Adnan Januzaj and Juan Mata. Between them they created one clear-cut scoring opportunity, a shot from Rooney that Simon Mignolet pushed aside.
Moyes was asked why in a game he had to win to preserve his waning credibility he had described Liverpool, who had lost 10 of their previous 11 matches at Old Trafford, as "favourites". Rodgers afterwards remarked that he would not have described any team coming to Anfield as favourites "even if Liverpool were bottom of the table".
Moyes replied: "Liverpool were above us in the league, playing well and any average person would have said the same thing. I think people are entitled to their opinion."
In one of the most humiliating afternoons many of them could have experienced and beneath a banner that proclaimed Moyes "The Chosen One", the Stretford End sang for a beaten, disintegrating team to the very end.
"The supporters were unbelievable in the backing they gave the team," said Moyes, who was asked if he thought that backing might evaporate. "Results will always dictate that but I can only tell you what I heard. They are supporting their team in a difficult period. They were fantastic and brilliant. They shouted plenty and we didn't give them anything on the field."
- The Independent