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kop crisis Liverpool have lost their mojo and I’m not sure they will get it back - even when Henderson and Van Dijk return

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Liverpool have been a pale shadow of the the team that romped to the league title last season

Liverpool have been a pale shadow of the the team that romped to the league title last season

Liverpool have been a pale shadow of the the team that romped to the league title last season

MANCHESTER United have a chance to hammer a final nail into Liverpool’s miserable season this afternoon — and I bet their fans are relishing that unlikely prospect.

If any football observer had predicted mid-way through last season that a United side led by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer would be heading into the final five games of this season 13 points clear of Liverpool, they’d have been laughed at.

Add in the reality that United can effectively end Liverpool’s hopes of qualifying for the Champions League by beating Jurgen Klopp’s men at Old Trafford today and it’s a scenario that was impossible to envisage as Liverpool won the Premier League title by a mile last season.

I have to give credit to Solskjaer for putting together a decent season with United, as I am not the only sceptic who believed he would come up short in his mission at the club.

My former Ireland team-mate Paul McGrath has suggested in his Sunday World columns that Solskjaer is not the man to get the club back to winning ways and, while I agree with him in the long-term, he has got them into a decent position this season.

A second-place finish and Europa League success would have to be viewed as a good campaign for United, even though I still believe they are a team with big flaws in their make-up.

As for Liverpool, I don’t see how they can be rescued from the hole they have dug for themselves over the last few months and we need to take out some of the excuses for their slide here and now.

I’m sure things would not be as bad as they are now if captain Jordan Henderson and defensive leader Virgil van Dijk had played the whole season.

Equally, I’m convinced the Liverpool fans would have made a massive difference to the team if they were at Anfield to lift them when the going got tough.

Yet those issues are not the only reason why Liverpool are heading into today’s game at Old Trafford in fifth place in the table and limping from one setback to the next.

The confidence was battered out of this team in the opening months of 2021 and what happened to them last week against Newcastle was a hammer blow too far.

You could see the nerves kicking in as they missed a succession of chances once again and found themselves clinging on to a 1-0 lead going into the closing stages.

Newcastle sensed Liverpool were ready to crack and they did in the final seconds, with their equaliser delivering what may have been a knock-out blow to their top four hopes.

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A draw at Old Trafford today followed by four wins might still be enough to finish fourth if Chelsea slip up, but I can’t see that sequence of events happening from Liverpool’s end.

For whatever reason, this team, that won game after game for two seasons, have lost their mojo to such an extent that I’m not sure they will ever get it back, even when Henderson and Van Dijk return.

Winning at Old Trafford could change the mentality of the team, but I look at Liverpool’s forward players and I can’t see how the same players have fallen as low as they have, given where they were a year ago.

Mo Salah is scoring goals, but he is well below his best and then you look at Sadio Mane, who is a pale shadow of the striker who was so dynamic and dangerous in every game when Liverpool were winning trophies.

Meanwhile, Roberto Firmino should have been put on the bench a long time ago because his contribution to the team no longer justifies his selection.

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Booby Firmino has lost his mojo as Liverpool's form slumped

Booby Firmino has lost his mojo as Liverpool's form slumped

Booby Firmino has lost his mojo as Liverpool's form slumped

I was a big fan of Firmino for much of his time at Liverpool.

But his body language is all wrong now and even though Diogo Jota missed a lot of chances against Newcastle last weekend, he looks like he might score a goal if a chance comes his way.

That has not been the case with Firmino for a long time and Klopp needs to be bold and pick a team that gives him a chance to finish this agonising season on an unlikely high with a win in the game that matters more than any other.

United against Liverpool will always be the biggest game in English football, even if the plastic clubs that are buying their way to success look like getting things their own way for the foreseeable future as they have all the financial power now.

This is the fixture that comes with a history and tradition clubs like Chelsea and Manchester City envy and I want to see a change of attitude from Liverpool when they travel to Manchester today.

Klopp’s team have looked a little intimidated by United on their recent visits to Old Trafford and I sensed a bit of fear in the team when they went out of the FA Cup there back in January.

They don’t need to show that emotion as while United are a decent side, their record on home soil this season is nothing special and Liverpool should go there believing they can win.

The trouble is, the belief required to achieve success ebbs away from a team when they are dealt setback after setback, which has been the story for Liverpool in recent months.

Where once this team had an inner focus that allowed them to believe they would always find a way to win, they now look like a bunch of players who suspect that whatever they do, they will come up short.

This is why I feel they need to make some big signings this summer in the forward positions.

Maybe the owners will look to invest in the club as they aim to get the fans back onside after the decision to sign up for the European Super League backfired so badly.

Right now, it seems as if there is a long way back for Klopp and Liverpool, given the way things have gone in the last few months.

However, it could all turn around quickly if they sign the right players this summer and off-loading some of the squad players could raise the money for that.

Joel Matip, Naby Keita, Xherdan Shaqiri, Divock Origi, Takumi Minamino and Firmino could all be sold and that would generate around £100m of funds.

If the owners then put their hands in their pockets and put more into the pot, Liverpool could sign some top players to turn things around when the fans are back at Anfield next season.

Of course, missing out on Champions League football will be a blow in their efforts to attract top players and that’s why finding some way of getting fourth place is so important in the next month.

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