The Manchester United manager stoked the fires ahead of Sunday's Old Trafford clash by insisting he had no idea how far off the title pace his side's traditional rival had fallen.
Though the fixture retains its status the one the most iconic rivalries in world soccer, once again it will have little direct influence on the destination of the title, with Brendan Rodgers’ side some 21 points adrift of the league leader.
While United continues to fight it out for top domestic billing with Manchester City and look forward to a glamor European tie against Real Madrid next month, Liverpool must console itself with Europa League soccer as Rodgers sets about a sizable rebuilding job.
When it was pointed out to him that Liverpool currently resides in eighth place Ferguson revealed his “surprise” and added: “I never even thought about that until it was mentioned on the television. I don’t really look at that. I look at that mob [Manchester City] that’s behind us, the team that’s directly behind us. Their program, who they’ve got next. I do that all the time.”
By contrast, Ferguson needed little reminding, however, that Liverpool’s failure to add to its 18 league titles had now stretched into a 23rd year. “Oh yes, I’ve been dreaming about it,” he joked.
Liverpool and Rodgers faces an enormous task to redress the balance, one made all the more complicated by its continued absence – which currently stands at three seasons - from Europe’s elite competition.
“If we weren’t in the Champions League it would be a disaster and that probably applies to other big clubs,” Ferguson added.
Though the destination of the title is now more likely to hinge on the outcome of United’s meeting with City later this season, Ferguson still regards the clash with Liverpool as the one that still matters most in a one off context.
He said: “I know City represent a different outlook in the last five years but Liverpool were always the one and nothing will change. It’s not about the position in the league.”
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