It hasn’t always been like this. It won’t always be like this. For the best part of two decades, Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United ruined Liverpool supporters’ childhoods and broke our red hearts!
Last Tuesday’s 4-0 win over our friends from down the M62 wasn’t just another statement or performance. In a season seeking a quest for greatness, it’s an indisputable marker of the ever-growing gulf between us. A perfect depiction of where both clubs currently sit on the football landscape.
“I think Man United at the end of last season [2019/20] finished 30-odd points behind Liverpool. Liverpool are now behind us and they’ll have their excuses and reasons why but the cold facts are that we have gained that muhc ground on them this season”Rio Ferdinand – June 201
It’s a soundbite that gets more and more foolish by the day. A decimated Liverpool squad finished third in 2020/21 with three first-choice center-backs unavailable for the second half of the season. They had won the title in record-breaking fashion 10 months earlier. This season Liverpool has proven that 2020/21 was the outlier, fighting on four fronts deeper into the season than anyone has before. While thrashing our bitter rivals home and away in the process!
Liverpool Really Could Have Scored More
Paul Pogba’s reckless challenge in the first encounter at Old Trafford saw him sent for a premature shower. As frustrations boiled it became clear the safest option was to keep the ball and allow United to chase for the final minutes. Give nothing but scraps. Naby Keita was stretchered off as a result of the tackle and the prevention of further casualties was higher on Klopp’s list of priorities than Solskjaer’s embarrassment.
Likewise at Anfield. If Liverpool had needed two or three more goals in that second half the chances are they could’ve had them.
These truly are the glory days. We are living in what feels like a simulation, a world where we are on course for up to four trophies, Everton is battling relegation and Manchester United finds themselves in yet another ‘transition phase’ to put it kindly, we all should be loving it!
Liverpool’s New Midfield Magician
While we’re on the subject of sole brilliance, any midfield coach worth their salt could do a lot worse than sit their pupil down and have them watch the 79-minute display from Thiago Alcantara at Anfield. In a game of men v boys, the Spaniard was very much the main man, making a decisive game in a title run-in against a team with top-four ambitions look like a training match.
At Old Trafford, Liverpool had 64% possession, in the return fixture it was a staggering 72%. It was one of the most dominant Anfield performances against any side in recent memory, let alone our arch-rivals.
“This Man United team are a waste of space, however, the football Liverpool have delivered here is absolutely sublime. That pass from Mane, that touch from Salah, that finish is world class. And it’s why Liverpool go into the last 10 or 11 games of the season in an unbelievable position to sweep up.”Gary Neville – during commentary for Sky Sports mid-game
How Has This Been Allowed to Happen?
During the game last week rather than fawning over my own team like I usually would, I found myself constantly asking myself how it had come to this for United. How had a global superpower that continues to attract the world’s top stars each summer been so comprehensively beaten by the team who spent decades looking upwards at them? Judging from the expression on Fergie’s face he was, likely, having similar thoughts.
A sliding doors moment may well have occurred back in 2013 when Jurgen Klopp was reported to have been approached by Sir Alex Ferguson about the possibility of becoming his successor. In a scary parallel universe, Klopp could’ve built on the success of Ferguson’s reign, and it’s a universe which quite frankly I’m thankful I don’t have to envisage.
United is arguably the biggest club in the world commercially and a side that won 13 of the first 21 Premier League titles awarded. On two occasions this season Liverpool has made them look ordinary. This isn’t how it’s supposed to be and it should never be taken for granted.
The reds might yet end this marvelous season with only one pot of silverware to show for it, but what they have proven is that after a rocky 2020/21 season they still very much belong at the top table. An area of the table, that no longer includes Manchester United or their history.