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SPARKS FLY Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher in fiery exchange over Man United's display at Anfield

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Sky Sports pundits Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher

Sky Sports pundits Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher

Sky Sports pundits Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher

Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville were embroiled in a fiery clash in the Sky Sports studio, as they clashed over Manchester United's approach in Sunday's 0-0 draw against Liverpool at Anfield.

Neville accused Carragher of offering up a 'ludicrous' analysis of the game, on a day when United spurned the two biggest chances of the game and missed a chance to beat a Liverpool side playing with midfielders Jordan Henderson and Fabinho in the centre of their defence.

With voices being raised between Liverpool great Carragher and United legend Neville in the Monday Night Football studio, tempers frayed as the duo offered up contrasting views of the top of the table clash.

"I've thought about it long and hard since yesterday and I've seen a lot of people comment and analyse the game," began Neville. "I do think that's a bit of hindsight punditry, the reason I say that is, I've been there myself, because when you look before the game, I thought Liverpool would come out like animals, reassert themselves as a real statement, a little bit like City did at United a week or two ago. That would have played on United's minds.

"Jamie and Graeme Souness would've been expecting a ferocious Liverpool performance - nine days off, loads of preparation - and there was a little bit of not worry from United fans but excitement and a little bit of could this be the point where Liverpool could reassert themselves.

"The best analogy I can give is almost like that United prepared for the toughest hole on the course, long par four, the one you take a par on all day, they played it and as they played it, they've walked on to the next tee, they've looked back and thought, 'If I'd gone for that second shot and been a bit bolder into the green, I may have got a birdie and maybe I should have done it', but that's only after the hole has finished.

"There's a point in the game yesterday where I was saying if this wasn't at Anfield, Man United would've been a lot more positive, but I genuinely believe this team is not ready, or right yet, to be able to adapt its mind from seven or eight weeks ago when their manager was reportedly under pressure and some said maybe getting sacked, to seven weeks later thinking they're title winners, we're coming to Anfield - our toughest away game - and they're a bit weaker and let's go for it."

Carragher interjected at this point to reject all of Neville's observations, as he insisted United showed a lack of ambition to win on a day when Liverpool were there for the taking.

"You're talking like Manchester United are a small team," he said. "I liken it to what we were talking about today - an Everton mentality and what we mean by that is when I was a kid going to Anfield as an Everton fan, oh my god, if we got a draw, it was the biggest thing in the world.

"Manchester United are one of the biggest clubs in the world and he's a player who's won everything at that club, you think of the mentality at United and you talk about the mentality of this team and that they're not a champion team?

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Manchester United’s Scott McTominay tackles Sadio Mane. Photo: PA

Manchester United’s Scott McTominay tackles Sadio Mane. Photo: PA

Manchester United’s Scott McTominay tackles Sadio Mane. Photo: PA

"You don't have to be a champion team to smell something in the game. It's okay me coming on now and being a pundit with hindsight, every pundit does that, we all do that.

"So what I'm trying to say is we all felt Liverpool would come flying out the blocks, they did. They completely dominated Manchester United in the first half an hour, and then United started having a few counter-attacks.

"Manchester United may have even felt that Liverpool were running out of ideas when on the edge of the box, they weren't creating big chances in the first half. But when you're talking about them not being a champion team, you go into that game and tactically you've set up; you maybe expect Matip to play, you maybe expect Henderson in midfield, two midfielders at the back, Shaqiri in midfield - you've weathered that first half an hour.

"You talk about not being a champion team, look at (Paul) Pogba, your one-to-watch, a World Cup winner, (Bruno) Fernandes - who's won what? Four player of the month awards.

"What I couldn't believe in the second half, and I was disappointed Liverpool didn't win the game, the more I thought about it, there was no stage in that game where Manchester United showed any authority.

"They should have won that game, they had the best chances and, if you do that, it's an Ole masterclass. But for the team Liverpool had on the pitch, Manchester United never had a spell of possession in the Liverpool final third, putting them under pressure and sustaining attacks, the same against Manchester City a couple of weeks ago.

"You're talking like Manchester United are a small team. I liken it to what we were talking about today - an Everton mentality and what we mean by that is when I was a kid going to Anfield as an Everton fan, oh my god, if we got a draw, it was the biggest thing in the world.

"This is a season like no other, there's no fans there baying for blood. The Liverpool midfield hadn't played together, the front three weren't firing.

"You're talking about Manchester United not being ready for a title, this is an unprecedented season. City and Liverpool are miles off where they normally are but they may get back to that next season.

"This might be one of the best chances Manchester United have, that might be the best chance United have for a few years to win at Anfield.

"The game is there. You talk about top midfield players, they never once showed that authority. They're Man United. I disagree completely with what he said."

Neville was not impressed by Carragher's analysis and snapped back with his response: "I think it's a ludicrous analysis of how Manchester United's history has been at Liverpool.

"At the height of Man United's superiority, when they were a brilliant team with unbelievable midfield players, winning championship after championship.

" I can never think of once that we went to Anfield - Sir Alex Ferguson will ring me tomorrow if he's watching and say I'm talking rubbish - and we were able to dominate the ball and show authority.

"We were back up against it for the first hour of every single match I ever played there. Even at 1-0 up with 25 minutes to go, you couldn't go for it, it was impossible.

"Only Louis van Gaal a few seasons ago did I see Man United ever dominate at Liverpool and I thought 'wow, that's a performance'.

"Every other year I've watched us at that ground, I've always seen us struggle til the last minute. Yesterday, with 20 minutes to go, I was thinking 'what are you going to do, Ole?'

"Maybe put(Mason) Greenwood on 10 minutes and Fernandes could have played better but they got the two biggest chances in the game. That plan worked, other than the chances that were missed.

"The other thing I'd say is if Man United had put Mata or Van de Beek on and gone for it, what would have happened is that front three for Liverpool would have won the game.

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Sky Sports' Monday Night Football

Sky Sports' Monday Night Football

Sky Sports' Monday Night Football

"Liverpool were still a dangerous outfit even though they weren't playing well. To rewrite history and suggest that Manchester United can go to Liverpool and dominate Liverpool on the ball? Scholes and Keane couldn't do that at Anfield playing against average players let alone the top Liverpool team that won the league and Champions League. So I don't get that at all.

"I've been critical of this Manchester United team a lot over this last five or six years so I'm not going to sit here and defend them when I don't need to defend them. Yesterday they're at Anfield playing against a top Liverpool team, they're establishing themselves at a place in the league where, to be fair, none of us ever thought they would be.

"I understood why it wasn't a bit gung ho and going for it towards the end, even though part of me in the game thought if they were a bit further ahead in their development, their journey and experience, they'd have gone for it. But they're not.

"Seven weeks ago, the manager was getting sacked, the players were getting booted out. They were all over the place. They were kicked out the Champions League.

"When they time is right, they will go for it. They are not at that point yet."

It was a debate that made for great television and it remains to be seen whether United will rue their passive approach against Liverpool at the end of this unpredictable season.

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