Manchester United are not “direct competition” for Liverpool in the Premier League title race, claims John Barnes, with Manchester City considered to be the only club that can prevent the Reds from defending their crown.
Jurgen Klopp’s side surged to a record-breaking triumph in 2019-20, with domestic dominance secured in some style.
The playing field has started to level out this season, with the chasing pack closing in, and United have moved to the top of the table as they seek to bring an eight-year wait for English top-flight glory to a close.
Liverpool can, however, move back to the summit with victory over their old adversaries at Anfield on Sunday and Barnes is not convinced that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s rejuvenated Red Devils can last the pace.
The Reds legend told BonusCodeBets: “Liverpool are not in direct competition with Manchester United in my opinion. Liverpool are only in competition with Manchester City for the title.
“There is of course competition because it’s Liverpool versus Manchester United and all of the history that comes with it, they are the two biggest clubs in the Premier League.
“But in reality, in terms of the favourites to win the league, it is whoever finishes higher than Liverpool or Manchester City.
“It’s good for Manchester United that even after getting knocked out of the League Cup, by not progressing in the Champions League they’re actually managing some consistency in the league.
“But of course, that can change if they lose one or two matches because we still understand that the harmony of Manchester United isn’t completely right.
“There are question marks about [Paul] Pogba, is Ole the right manager for them? We still aren’t sure.
“If Manchester United really wanted to make a big push, they should all get behind the manager and support the cause, because they haven’t done that. Bad news stories have to stop coming out to Manchester United for them to maintain further consistency.”
Mind games have started ahead of United’s trip to Merseyside, with Klopp questioning the Red Devils’ penalty record and Solskjaer claiming success for the visitors would represent a shock, and there promises to be plenty of on-field fireworks when two arch-rivals lock horns.