Phil Jones and Marouane Fellaini
Marouane Fellaini has defended LVG despite the criticism aimed at the Dutchman.Getty Images

Manchester United midfielder Marouane Fellaini believes that their crushing loss to Liverpool at Anfield in the first leg of the round of 16 tie of the Europa League was down to the players not working on the instructions of the manager. The Red Devils were outclassed in every department and the result could have been worse had Liverpool taken some of the chances they had created.

Fellaini revealed that Van Gaal had instructed his players to press ahead from the outset, but the team was lacklustre in the first half, allowing Liverpool to gain ground. Jurgen Klopp's men were first to every loose ball and it was only in the second half that United managed to put up some fight and showed glimpses of coming back into the contest. However, Daniel Sturridge and Roberto Firmino scored a goal each to put the contest to bed leaving United with a massive job at hand when they face each other again at Old Trafford next week.

Van Gaal drew a lot of criticism over his team's attitude and his tactics but Fellaini insists that the manager was not in the wrong in his game-plan. The Dutchman will be hoping that the team can execute his plan to perfection against West Ham in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup, failing which will end their only realistic hope of a trophy this season.

"We didn't press well in the first half. I think the second half was much better and we had more possession of the ball," Fellaini said, as quoted by the Mirror.

"But in the first half we didn't show enough respect to the game-plan of the manager. That's why we conceded a lot of chances.

"The plan before the game was to press from the start. We didn't do it well at all first half so we changed in the second half and it was better."

Former United legends Rio Ferdinand and Paul Scholes blamed the 2-0 Merseyside mauling on a lack of leadership and cohesion at United.