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the klopp drop United can add to the woes of a Liverpool side that have just forgotten how to win


Manchester United's Edinson Cavani celebrates after scoring against Roma during the week

Manchester United's Edinson Cavani celebrates after scoring against Roma during the week

Manchester United's Edinson Cavani celebrates after scoring against Roma during the week

Manchester United have one foot in the Europa League final as they head to Rome next Thursday night for the second leg of their semi-final.

But tradition, history and respect demands that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer puts out his very best Red Devils XI against Liverpool at Old Trafford this afternoon.

And there is self-interest in that for the Norwegian.

He and Jurgen Klopp might go head-to-head for a big player in the summer and how easier would Ole’s task be if he can promise Champions League football to a new arrival and playing in the Europa League is the best Klopp has on the table.

For that is where Liverpool will be heading for 2021/22 if they don’t win this afternoon.

I’ve got to fancy United for the win today simply because a Liverpool side that enthralled us for two magic seasons with brilliant football has forgotten how to win a game.

We saw that eight days ago when Liverpool fell back and fell back against Newcastle, eventually conceding the equaliser in the 95th minute. They doubted themselves!

Usually, a Liverpool team that goes ahead after three minutes at home would take the game by the scruff of its neck and be three ahead at the break.

But Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Diogo Jota all fluffed great chances to get that big lead.

It might not have happened, of course, in front of a full Kop.

For these are two clubs who have suffered more than most through the absence of fans from games.

Old Trafford and Anfield are two fortresses, rarely conquered by visitors.

Now, this season, we have seen both clubs losing and drawing at home all too regularly.

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More than most, these two Red giants of Lancashire will be happy to see their grounds full next season.

As for United, it has been a strange season. Yes, Manchester City are, by a mile, the best team this season. So finishing second is as good as it could be for United.

From there, a cup of some kind would be nice and the chance for that presents itself, now that United are on the way to getting over Ole’s semi-final hoodoo after four failed attempts in recent seasons.

They were superb against Roma on Thursday night – with Paul Pogba (below)showing once again that he is a world-class talent when he wants to be.

But remember that this is Europe’s ‘B’ competition.

Manchester United are supposed to be competing for the real thing and failing to get into the last 16 of the Champions League, and being seriously adrift of the neighbours in the Premier League, cannot see 2020/21 counted as a great campaign.

It used to be said that, for both clubs, winning this game would see their fans forgive them for much else.

Maybe that applies a little bit on the Scousers’ side today but in truth I don’t think Liverpool beating their great rivals will take away the bitter taste of this lost campaign.

Their supporters wanted more of them over the last eight months.

In your wildest dreams could any supporter of either side see them going on the sort of mid-season run of win after win that carried Manchester City to the summit? Not at all.

Liverpool have sadly missed the injured Virgil van Dijk.

Replacing their best centre-half with their best midfielder in Fabinho, has meant the midfield is not functioning.

And the grind of trying to be the best for three seasons on the spin has shown in the performances of their famed attacking trio, Salah, Mane and Roberto Firmino.

United have been utterly inconsistent too with players like Pogba and Harry Maguire good one day and awful the next.

Even Bruno Fernandes, who was brilliant for much of this season, was losing his shine of late. It came back a bit against Roma.


Manchester United's Edinson Cavani celebrates with Paul Pogba

Manchester United's Edinson Cavani celebrates with Paul Pogba

Manchester United's Edinson Cavani celebrates with Paul Pogba

For me, Bruno looks like a lad in need of three weeks on the beach in June – instead he is going to the Euros with Portugal.

The exciting Marcus Rashford too, is coming in and out of games as playing since early last July takes a toll.

And the inability to tie down Edinson Cavani to a contract for next season is worrying.

The Uruguayan ­centre-forward has been a true bright light for Manchester United this season.

Letting him walk away after just one season would seem like a bad move – unless of course a quality centre-forward has already been quietly nailed down and will be unveiled during the summer.

With all the goings-on ­behind the scenes in recent weeks you have to think it is unlikely.

Finally, a word about ­Manchester City as they head into the second leg of the Champions League semi-final at the Etihad on Tuesday, holding a 2-1 advantage over PSG.

I’m not being wise after the event, I did say to a friend, after seeing the teams for Wednesday’s first leg, ‘we are in for a belter here.’

A forward line of Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Angel di Maria meant PSG were going to entertain and probably score.

But once I saw the French club’s line-up, shorn of any serious international defenders, I thought to myself, ‘if City are brave here, they can get goals.’

And so it proved.

After a first half of being a bit wary and cautious and getting done at a set-piece, the Sky Blues came out and riddled PSG.

Frankly they should have scored more than two goals.

Phil Foden and Kevin de Bruyne had the chances to do it. But

the two away strikes should be enough.

Yes, any team with PSG’s forward firepower can score freely but can they get the two away goals they require without leaving the backdoor open to City?

No, I see Pep’s boys scoring again, at least once, on Tuesday.

And that will be enough.

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