The Dutchman had been praised for turning around the club’s fortunes ahead of the Premier League tie against its fierce rival, but the 7-0 drubbing that followed showed there was still some way to go.
Following the humiliation – the team’s worst league loss since 1931 – ten Hag did not hold back on his team.
“It was not about one or two players. It was the whole team; you saw 11 individuals losing their heads,” Ten Hag told reporters after the game.
“That is unprofessional, that is not Manchester United. We have other standards, these were not the standards we want to show.
“Every defeat, no matter what, is worse, especially when you lose at Liverpool. We let the fans down so that is the most annoying.”
Despite finding itself 1-0 down at the break, United had initially coped well with the Anfield atmosphere and was very much in the game as the second half kicked off.
Shortly after the restart though, Liverpool began pulling away and United’s players seemed to give up as the host went for the jugular.
Braces from Cody Gakpo, Darwin Núñez and Mo Salah, plus Roberto Firmino’s late goal, secured the utterly dominant win and it’s no surprise that many of United’s traveling fans had left the stadium before the final whistle.
Meanwhile, some of United’s senior players lost discipline and failed to track Liverpool’s unrelenting forward runs on multiple occasions.
“For the [fans] who stayed, it was tough, and we really have to thank them,” ten Hag added.
“I can’t blame those who go away because it was a really bad performance. Devastating and we let the fans down.”
While United’s players were left licking their wounds after a punishing day, Liverpool were basking in the glow of a memorable result.
Manager Jurgen Klopp, who has struggled to get a tune out of his team this season, was all smiles as he spoke to the media after the game.
“Freak result, top performance. A really top performance from the start, I thought the way we started the game was really special, the best for a long, long time,” he told reporters.
“I don’t think the second half could start better […] and from that moment on, the boys were flying. Then it was really difficult to play against us.”
Klopp also saved special praise for Salah who became Liverpool’s top Premier League scorer with his second effort.
“[He] achieved something really, really special – we should not forget that just because we are used to him scoring a lot of goals,” Klopp added.
“Very special, very special player, very special boy and [he] should be really proud of that.”
Now on 129 league goals, Salah overtakes legendary striker Robbie Fowler having played 61 fewer games.
Salah himself admitted the record was very special to him but said he wouldn’t get carried away with the achievement.
“It’s very special, I can’t lie,” he told reporters. “This record was in my mind since I came here.
“I think after my first season I was always chasing that record. To beat it today against United with that result is unbelievable.
“I’m going home to celebrate with the family, have a camomile tea and sleep.”
Despite the result, United still sits seven points ahead of Liverpool in the league, but the latter moves just three points behind Tottenham in the fourth and final Champions League place with a game in hand.
Ten Hag will be hoping his side is resilient enough to shake off the disappointment as it faces Real Betis in the Europa League on Thursday.