Why Pompey’s Rose wanted Liverpool glory – as a United fan

Daniel Sturridge cuts a disconsolate figure after Liverpools Europa League final defeat to Sevilla in May 2016

Daniel Sturridge cuts a disconsolate figure after Liverpools Europa League final defeat to Sevilla in May 2016

Trust chairman Ashley Brown. Picture: Joe Pepler

Brown: Pompey Trust remain proud - and relevant

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Watching the Europa League final back in May, I found myself in an unusual state of mind.

I am a huge Manchester United fan but I wanted Jürgen Klopp’s team to win – not because I enjoy watching Liverpool parade a trophy!

Quite the opposite, I was thinking months ahead to the implications of European football, or the absence of it, would have on their league form this season.

During that final against Sevilla, it occurred to me that if Liverpool had this season without the draining effect of European football, and had recruited well in the summer, then they would have a real chance of challenging for the Premier League.

With more than a year at the club, Klopp, inset above, would be better suited to the demands of the English game, his players would be well adapted to his way of playing and they would have no mid-week distraction from the task at the weekend.

If Liverpool had won the Europa League they would have qualified directly for the Champions League group stages but they were well beaten in Basel, finished eighth in the league and now their midweeks are free.

I think they are already seeing the benefits, despite a shock Anfield defeat against Swansea this weekend.

Even with that loss, Liverpool are in title contention this year.

When United won the Premier League in 1993 they won a few more off the back of it and dominated for the best part of the next two decades.

I’ve always wondered, because of their history, that when or if that first Premier League title came along, Liverpool might win a few more on the back of it.

My view is that it will be more difficult in the present day for one club to dominate as United did in the 1990s and 2000s, but Liverpool would not settle for one Premier League.

They would want more.

Watching Liverpool it is notable that since Steven Gerrard left there is no big star in the side.

Philippe Coutinho is a talent and Jordan Henderson has done well to step into the captaincy – he looks like a dedicated professional.

Gerrard’s departure has forced others to fill the gap and sometimes that can be a good thing for a club to move away from a focus on one individual.

In many respects it was the same at United when Roy Keane left in 2005.

For years he had been like two players and when he left, others had to step up to fill the void.

What seems different to United is that looking from the outside, Gerrard was always the dominant figure at the club – regardless of who the manager might have been.

Now that he has left (only to this week return as an Academy coach) it feels like Klopp is that man.

Clearly at United no-one was ever bigger than Sir Alex but different clubs work in different ways.

It is a changed dynamic now at Liverpool.

What they lack is a goalscorer who might get them 20 goals in a season and while Sadio Mane or Daniel Sturridge might prove me wrong, you do need one of those in a title-winning team.

All the recent champions have had one: Jamie Vardy, Diego Costa, Yaya Toure (who scored 20 goals in 2013-14, although Sergio Aguero is Manchester City’s key striker) and Robin van Persie.

At the other end, I do not think Liverpool have a goalkeeper who is among the top players in that position in the league, although that could change over time.

As for the prospect of them winning the league for the first time since 1990, as a United fan the thought makes me quiver.

A long time ago they challenged United to come back when they had won it 18 times.

Twenty years later, the Red Devils had raised the bar to 20 and no-one on United’s side wants to see it swing back the other way.

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