Brendan Rodgers has urged Liverpool to shatter Manchester United’s faint Champions League hopes and condemn them to a spell in the wilderness.
Liverpool head into tomorrow’s Old Trafford showdown 11 points ahead of their most bitter rivals and Rodgers believes extending that advantage will make it impossible for United to finish in the top four this season.
If that happens, Rodgers has delivered a stark warning to David Moyes of the implications that no Champions League football will bring.
Rodgers said: ‘We are 11 points clear now; if it goes to 14, they can’t do it. Even 11 is going to be very tough because we are entering into a period where we are stronger. Our last 10 games last season, we were brilliant and we have been doing the same pattern this year.
‘It is tough for any of the teams, you are always looking at yourself and making sure you perform. Over 14 months we’ve shown that we have been on the up. The first job is to consolidate fourth, then work upwards. That will be the aim.’
United want to overhaul their squad in the summer but Liverpool’s manager says the players Moyes aims to sign could become unobtainable if they cannot offer top-class European football. Rodgers discovered this last summer when his top target, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, chose to join Borussia Dortmund because Liverpool were not in the Champions League. That’s why so much is riding on the outcome as Liverpool try to claw back ground lost over two decades of United dominance.
Rodgers added: ‘This club is a worldwide club — monumental — but we found it difficult because the best players want to play in the best competitions.
Any club will suffer the same when they’re not in there. It can get away from you very quickly. It’s our focus and drive to arrive in it (the top four). I believe if we can get to that level then it gives us a massive advantage as a club.’
Kenny Dalglish, meanwhile, believes there will be no quick fix to United’s problems. Speaking at the launch of a charity game to be staged in memory of the 96 Hillsborough victims, Dalglish said: ‘I don’t think anyone could have foreseen what is happening at the moment. I don’t think anyone at Manchester United is happy with what is going on. They will try and use the transfer window to rectify it a bit, but it might take them two or three transfer windows to get where they want to be. I don’t think anyone would have predicted they would be out of two cups, sixth in the league and two down to Olympiacos.’ – Daily Mail