Manchester United were treated to a humbling experience at Anfield, as Erik Ten Hag's side suffered a historic 7-0 defeat to arch-rivals Liverpool.
In the midst of a superb run of form post-World Cup, the loss at Anfield has hit United for six (or, rather, seven), and leaves Ten Hag and his coaching team scrambling to rebuild team morale quickly ahead of another crucial run of games.
Despite a generally positive season, Sunday's game was not the first embarrassing loss under Ten Hag this season, and the Dutch coach will no doubt want to nip such performances in the bud.
Reports have now emerged which detail Ten Hag's chastening punishment for the Manchester United players, as he vowed that any form of repeat of Sunday's performance would see the squad playing with the club's youth teams.
Erik Ten Hag rips into Manchester United players
If there's one place Manchester United and their fans don't want to lose, it's Anfield. Home to their bitter rivals Liverpool, it has not been a happy hunting ground for United in recent years, with Wayne Rooney's late winner in 2016 the last time they tasted victory there.
Since then, they have found themselves on the end of 2-0 and 4-0 losses, but Sunday's usurped any recent defeat to Liverpool. In fact, the 7-0 hockeying stands as Manchester United's worst ever professional defeat, and the embarrassing nature in which the team folded in the second half understandably had Erik Ten Hag fuming post-match.
Mo Salah equals Robbie Fowler's record for most Premier League goals in a Liverpool shirt 🤩🔴 pic.twitter.com/G9dWYUzFO6
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) March 5, 2023
The Dutch coach - who took over as manager last summer - reportedly forced the squad to sit in silence post-match and listen to their rivals' jubilant celebrations, as well as those of the crowd in Anfield, to rub salt in the wounds and ensure that they would not allow a defeat of that nature to ever reoccur.
Ten Hag then went on a furious rant akin to the days of Alex Ferguson, threatening players with demotion to the club's U-21 team if they ever allowed a performance like Sunday's to happen again.
A Manchester United source told the UK Mirror:
Ten Hag was obviously furious and told them they were lucky to be getting on the team bus back to Old Trafford and not made to travel back with the fans.
He warned them all that if anything like that happens again, there won’t be another chance for them and they’ll be put in the Under-21s.
All of the senior squad were reported to have arrived early for training on Monday morning, and extra sessions with the club's sport psychologist Rainier Koers are expected to take place in the coming weeks.
This is not the first time United have caved embarrassingly this season, with capitulations also evident in a 4-0 defeat to Brentford and a 6-3 defeat to Manchester City.
After August's defeat to Brentford, Ten Hag infamously forced his players to run 13.8km on the training ground - the difference in distance covered between the two teams. Ten Hag himself joined in the run, showing he shares the responsibility with the club's players, and it remains to be seen if similar punishment will be in store this season.
Anfield was the third time this season that United have shipped four or more goals in a single half. It is evident that, despite the progress made under Ten Hag this season, the mentality of some of the Manchester United squad remains shaky, and more shakedowns such as Sunday's may ultimately be required if they are to make the next step.
One thing is for sure - Erik Ten Hag does not appear shy of handing out some harsh punishments to his squad.