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Manchester United v Liverpool

Man Utd warned Liverpool will ‘destroy them’ if they try to go toe-to-toe with Klopp’s title chasers

11:44 GMT+3 18/10/2019
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Jurgen Klopp
Former Reds star John Barnes believes Ole Gunnar Solskjaer may need to take inspiration from predecessor Jose Mourinho when drawing up a game plan

Manchester United have been warned by Liverpool legend John Barnes that the Reds will “destroy them” if they try to go “toe-to-toe” with Jurgen Klopp’s side.

The Premier League leaders are due at Old Trafford on Sunday for an eagerly-anticipated encounter.

Precious points and bragging rights in a fierce rivalry will be on the line when arch enemies lock horns at the Theatre of Dreams.

Liverpool will go into the game as favourites, with a 100 per cent record boasted in 2019-20 to this point, and are eyeing up the title which United previously captured on 13 occasions.

The Red Devils have endured a humbling fall from grace since those heady days of Sir Alex Ferguson and, with injuries depleting their ranks, have been told they could be in for another rough ride.

Barnes believes Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who is seeing questions asked of his position, could do with taking inspiration from predecessor Jose Mourinho, with the former Liverpool star telling the Evening Standard: “If Manchester United now under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer are going back to trying to play an exciting, open game, I think Liverpool will destroy them. 

“If you go toe-to-toe with Liverpool and try and play an open game... even Manchester City adapt their game to play against Liverpool! 

“If Manchester United come and say, ‘We’re the home team, let’s play an open game’, I think Liverpool will beat them comfortably. 

“A counter-attacking team is what Jose Mourinho would have - defend deep, allow them to have the ball. 

“That is not what Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has done, it’s not what he has come to Manchester United to do, which is what Jose Mourinho was criticised for. 

“So, it’s just a question as to whether Ole decides to be a bit more cautious, to defend more, and try and catch them on the counter, which is an away team performance.”

Barnes feels a lack of identity and philosophy is partly responsible for the struggles currently being endured by United, with Liverpool showing what can be achieved when a proper blueprint is laid out.

He added: “At the moment, Manchester United are not like Liverpool, who have a template in terms of the way they play, which any player coming in can hit the ground running and put in a good performance. 

“Manchester United have relied on individuals to win their matches; I don’t think they’ve played well as a team in any of the games I’ve seen. 

“They’ve got individuals who can do something, so the better individuals you have, the more chance you have of winning. 

“If Liverpool were missing two or three players, I wouldn’t worry about them. The style of Liverpool as a team, you know they’re going to play that way regardless of who plays. 

“With Manchester United I think it depends on having those individual players. [Paul] Pogba, I think, will be a big loss for them. They’ll need their better individuals to cause Liverpool problems.”