Ahead of Sundays hugely anticipated match against our fiercest Mersey – side rivals Liverpool, we have asked the excellent Liverpool Kop some pertinent question regarding Liverpool and Manchester United. Jaimie Kanwar the Liverpool-Kop.com site editor takes time out from his busy schedule to share his opinions!
Truly Reds: Are you pleased with your early season form so far?
Jaimie Kanwar: Definitely! Results have not been great but it’s important to look at the bigger picture. Performances are encouraging, and it’s clear to see that progress is being made on the field. Unfortunately, Liverpool have wasted a ridiculous amount of money in the transfer market over the last 22 years, and despite spending more than both Arsenal and Manchester United during that time, the club has no Premier League titles to show for it. Clearly, the philosophy and mentality at Anfield were simply not conducive to league success, which is why drastic change is happening at the club right now.
Brendan Rodgers is tasked with completely transforming the club’s approach to football, and fans need to accept that it is going to take time. Indeed, it’s unrealistic to expect Rodgers to come in and change everything within a few months, especially when he still needs to add new players to the squad. Fans need to look beyond results right now and look at what Rodgers & FSG are trying to achieve.
TR: You’ve seen quite a few players moved on this summer which at first glance leaves you light up – front. What are your thoughts on the departures?
JK: Reducing the wage bill was a major priority this summer, and some underperforming big earners have left the club, and that’s a good thing. The departure of Andy Carroll is also a good thing; he is not technically or tactically good enough to fit into Brendan Rodgers’ team, and he doesn’t score enough goals to justify a place in the squad. The key point is this: for Carroll to thrive, he needs to have the whole team set-up to serve him. That means long balls into the box and wingers peppering the box with crosses. Liverpool play a totally different style under Rodgers, and if Carroll was still at the club, that style would have to be adapted every time he played, which, in turn, would slow down the implementation of Rodgers’ football philosophy.
TR: What are your thoughts on United start to the season so far, including the Everton game!
JK: This season’s start is a stark contrast to last season, when United won their first 5 games, scoring 21 goals in the process. In the first month of this season, United have conceded 5 goals in 3 games, and despite two clean sheets in the last two games, I feel that the defence is vulnerable, and hopefully Liverpool can exploit that on Sunday. Without Robin Van Persie, United would only have four points right now, so it’s clear how vital he is to the team even at this early stage. As for Everton: I’m sure United fans would concede that David Moyes’ team deserved the 1-0 victory in the opening game of the season.
TR: Where do you think Manchester United will finish in the Premier League?
JK: As much as it pains me to say it, I believe United will win the league this season. Alex Ferguson is a genius manager, and the signing of Robin Van Persie will seal the deal!
TR : Who do you think are Liverpool’s key players this season?
JK: Joe Allen will be crucial to the way Rodgers wants to play, with an average of 94% passing accuracy so far, he’s already proving how integral he is to the implementation of Brendan Rodgers’ football philosophy.
Jonjo Shelvey has come on leaps and bounds over the last year, and if he is given a regular run in the team, he has the ability to make a real difference. It’s also important that Daniel Agger remains fit; the Dane is a superb ball-playing centre-back, very reminiscent of Liverpool legend Alan Hansen, and his organisational skills and leadership from the back will be vital.
TR: We are all aware of the fantastic young talent Raheem Sterling. Who else is below the radar, likely to breakthrough to the Liverpool first team in the near future?
JK: Suso and Andre Wisdom showed their quality in the 5-3 Europa League victory against BSC Young Boys and both players have regularly shone in the youth set-up. Hungarian attacking midfielder Krisztian Adorjan is an exciting prospect, as is big striker Michael Ngoo. Home grown youngster Conor Coady and Adam Morgan are also on the fringes of the first-team set-up right now, and I fully expect both to make the step-up to the first team over the next year.
TR: What are your thoughts on Brendan Rodgers in these early days of his Liverpool career? He appears to have connected with the fans on many levels.
JK: Rodgers is definitely the right manager for Liverpool and his approach to football fits perfectly with the Reds “pass and move” philosophy. Like legendary Reds manager Bob Paisley, he is humble and unassuming, but beneath the calm exterior is a fiercely strong character with the confidence and ability to push through much-needed change at Anfield. He’s also great with the Press, and after last season’s constant PR debacles, this is vital. Rodgers also has balls and is not afraid to make tough decisions if the situation demands it. For example, he got rid of Andy Carroll, a player who cost the club 35m; he promoted youngsters to the first team and used them in vital games; he refuses to compromise his principles, even if it means constant pressure from the Press and some sections of the fan-base. Rodgers is the manager Liverpool have been waiting for and if he’s given time – and he MUST be given time – then the club will move forward.
TR : Do you think Liverpool can finish in a higher position than last season 8th place in the Premiership?
JK: Yes, without a shadow of a doubt. The current league position is false in many respects, and things will change over the next three months. I expect Liverpool to be in the top 10 by January, without 6-9 points of 4th place, if Rodgers makes one or two astute attacking signings in January, then that should be enough to propel the club up the table. A 4th place finish would be great, but that is, perhaps, unrealistic this season. The focus is on transition and implementation of a new philosophy at the club, and I would be happy with finishing between 5th and 7th in the league. This is not lowering expectations, just a recognition that change doesn’t happen overnight in football, and sometimes you need to break something down to build it up again.
TR: What were your thoughts on Liverpool winning your 8th League cup last season?
JK: A cup is a cup, but I personally feel that the Carling Cup is a pointless distraction and a total waste of time. Historically, the League Cup (arguably) had a lot more prestige; it was just a cup competition that was solely about the football. Now, it has morphed into a soulless corporate competition, with the emphasis on advertising revenue.
Additionally, there’s no glory in beating lower league opposition on penalties to win the competition! If I had my way, the ‘Capital One Cup’ as it’s called now, would be scrapped.
TR: Fantasy time. Of all Manchester United’s players pick three you would want at Liverpool.
JK: If you’re talking about current players, I would take Shinji Kagawa, Robin Van Persie and Antonio Valencia, all of whom would play in positions that Liverpool need to strengthen. I still feel sick that United managed to snag Van Persie; he is an outstanding goalscorer and without him, United would probably be facing another trophyless season!
TR: Inside information, Which Liverpool players are most likely to cause United most problems tomorrow?
JK: If he plays, Raheem Sterling will cause United problems and Luis Suarez will be on fire, desperate to get one over on United after the regrettable events of last season. Steven Gerrard has not performed to his usual high standards yet this season so he is due a stormer and I think that will come against United Sunday. If Gerrard, Suarez and Sterling click, United can kiss goodbye to the three points.
TR: Do you believe handshakes prior to the match starting should be scrapped?
JK: Yes, it’s a contrived and empty gesture that just causes more harm than good. If there were no pre-match handshakes then all the furore over players refusing to shake would never happen and the mountain of negative press that follows would not exist. What’s the point of shaking hands before the game anyway? The players are going into battle; they want to win, not wish each other good luck! Handshakes should be left for after the game, but even then, it shouldn’t be mandatory. If a player has earned respect during the game, then shake his hand. If not, then don’t. It’s not ideal, but at least it would be genuine, and not forced.
TR: There have been directives from senior management at both club’s regarding the toxic chanting by the minority to cease. How do you believe the atmosphere, tension levels will be at Anfield when United visit on this occasion?
JK: Tensions will be high, and after recent events, many Liverpool fans will be expecting a small minority of United fans to ruin the day with vile chants about Hillsborough. I feel confident, however, that the majority of United’s support will behave in the proper way, and slap down any idiots who try to make trouble. The same applies to Liverpool fans; over the years, a minority of the club’s support have engaged in pathetic chanting about the Munich disaster, but the majority of the fan base is reasonable and respectful, and, hopefully, both sets of fans will bring credit to their respective clubs this Sunday.
TR: In light of Truth Day, I’m sure all football people will be delighted that a City, its people that had been wronged, has been righted and justice won through belatedly. Your brief synopsis Jaimie:
JK: Absolutely. The Hillsborough cover-up is a national disgrace, and – as David Cameron said in his statement on the issue – ‘An appalling failure of state. It’s fantastic for the families that the truth is now finally out there.
TR: Crystal ball time. Match predictions for the game on Sunday and scorers.
JK: Liverpool to win 2-1; Luis Suarez to score both goals; Patrice Evra to grab a consolation goal
TR: Thanks for sharing your views Jaimie however we at Truly Reds could not possibly agree on your predictions for the match on Sunday
Liverpool v Manchester United, Sunday kick – off 1:30 pm.
Nemanja Vidic has been shown a Red card on his last two appearances at Anfield, three of his four dismissals in the Premier League have been against Liverpool.
Manchester United v Liverpool during the Premier League history we have seen 13 red cards.
Only Liverpool v Everton has seen more red cards handed out, 20 in total.
Robin van Persie scored both goals last season at Anfield as Arsenal beat Liverpool 2 – 1.
The Dutchman has scored in four of his last five games against Liverpool.
Liverpool have won four and lost none of their last five games in all competitions at Anfield against Manchester United. However Liverpool have won just two of their games at Anfield in the Premier League in 2012.(W2 D4 L5 )
Let’s hope for a fantastic match between our two great clubs fought in the correct spirit, and the best team on the day wins the battle.
Two giants jousting on the football pitch but who will walk away from the “game” with pride intact, knowing we retained our dignity and displayed respect?