Liverpool and Manchester are geographically close but fans of the main football clubs in the cities have a love/hate relationship….well actually it’s a hate/hate relationship. Hate is a strong word in the context of sport but Scousers and Mancs don’t like each other. When it involves football the fur flies. Not that I’m biased but United can beat Liverpool at Anfield on Saturday. Derby should beat Nottingham Forest.
United have one of the best attacks in the league and defence is Liverpool’s major weakness. While United are scoring goals for fun Liverpool are letting them in with abandon. The foundation for any successful side is a trusted goalkeeper and a reliable back line. Jurgen Klopp will live or die by his principles but he must sort out Liverpool’s defence or he will soon be out of a job. Rock band football is all well and good but you need the reliability of ballads at the back.
Jose Mourinho has only ever been involved in club football so doesn’t know the pressures of managing a national team. Several of his first choice 11 have picked up injuries on international duty. He now has a crisis in midfield with Paul Pogba out for a few more weeks and Marouane Fellaini injured while playing for Belgium. Romelu Lukaku should be fit to play against Liverpool after another injury away with Belgium. That nation look a good outside bet to win the World Cup for the first time.
England don’t have a hope of becoming soccer world champions for the second time. They don’t have the players or manager to win the World Cup. The qualifying process is in no way preparation for the real action. If you struggle to beat third-rate footballing nations how on earth will you be able to compete with Brazil, Argentina, Germany and Italy? England would only have a chance if Mourinho was in charge.
He has history at Anfield and no doubt he will get a feisty reception. Nothing would give him more pleasure than plotting a win for United in this fixture. With Manchester City looking so strong winning the league looks beyond United but they can achieve the second best thing which is beating Liverpool in their own back yard. Klopp looks safe but there will be more questions about substance over style. There is no love lost so losing at home to United is as bad as it can get.
There are three more live fixtures from this week’s Premier League schedule but there is also a huge match in the Championship. In a similar scenario to Liverpool and Manchester Derby and Nottingham Forest are close in miles but huge rivals. They are traditionally the two biggest clubs in the East Midlands and have one massive thing in common. Both clubs were managed by Brian Clough, the best manager ever. He should have been the manager of England but the suits were petrified. Clough focused on his club career and won the league with Derby and Forest.
England like to appoint solid, regular men to manage the national team. The two best managers since Bobby Robson left the job for non-footballing reasons. Terry Venables and Glenn Hoddle did good jobs before blotting their copybook with rumours of dodgy business deals and some comments about his faith. Clough would have had the top brass on tenterhooks but he is revered in Derby and Nottingham. His success with both clubs intensifies the rivalry.
Forest are two places and two points ahead of their opponents in this local derby! They are playing Derby in a derby. The Derby is the most famous Flat race in the world. In racing parlance there is little to choose between the two sides on recent form but Forest will struggle to overcome the handicap of playing away which means the odds are on a home win and three points for Derby. Cloughie would be hoping for a draw to keep everyone sweet.