Ole Gunnar Solskjaer cannot wait to take table-topping Manchester United to reigning champions Liverpool on Sunday, when the 1999 treble hero will attempt to mastermind his first win against their bitter rivals.
The Norwegian enjoyed his fair share of success against the Reds during his medal-laden playing days but has failed to beat Jurgen Klopp’s men since taking over as manager in December 2018.
Solskjaer claimed it would be an “upset” if he oversees victory against Liverpool at the fourth time of asking, despite his in-form side heading into Sunday’s Anfield encounter as Premier League leaders.
The Red Devils boss has consistently played down the importance of being top at this stage of the season but is looking forward to the match as much as anyone.
“You’re always excited when you’re going to play against teams of that quality and calibre and, for us, form goes out the window,” six-time title winner Solskjaer said.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s first or last game, when you go to Anfield it’s a big game for the club, for the players, for the fans. I’m really looking forward to it because we’re in good form at the moment.
“You don’t get anything for being at the top of the league in January so no, it’s not congratulations, it’s not something we’ve ever really valued.
“It doesn’t matter. It’s where you end up at the end of the season that matters.”
Solskjaer’s three previous matches against Liverpool have brought just two points, with a pair of home draws followed by a 2-0 loss at Anfield last January.
United fell an eye-watering 30 points behind Klopp’s men with that defeat, yet the ever-improving side return 364 days later three points better off than the hosts.
“We’re a much better side now than a year ago,” said Solskjaer, whose team won 1-0 at Burnley on Tuesday.
“But then again we lost that game to a (Virgil) Van Dijk header from a corner and a counter attack with the last kick of the game from our corner – so we weren’t a million miles away then either.
“It’s a misperception people say we were a million miles away. We did have some moments in that game ourselves.
“Of course our league position, we are competitive, we are up there with six or seven other teams. It’s a tighter season this year.
“I think the last few years it’s been two teams running away with it by the end of October so at least now we’re in it halfway.”
United have won nine matches during an unbeaten 11-game Premier League run after impressively navigating their way through the festive period.
A lack of injuries to key players certainly helped during that run, with defenders Brandon Williams and Phil Jones the only players definitely ruled out of Sunday’s match.
Anthony Martial is among those that will be assessed and Solskjaer suggested Liverpool would come too soon for exciting 18-year-old addition Amad Diallo, who began training with United this week after joining from Atalanta.
“Amad has looked really comfortable and he’s settled in really well in training,” he said.
“It shows how technically adept he is and, of course, we’ll give him time to settle and adjust, but hopefully we can see him on the pitch before too long. He’s definitely done well in training.
“(How and when to introduce him) is the decision we have to make with the bubbles and all this. They need competitive games and, at the moment, we don’t have any.
“He will be training (with us) and let’s see when he’ll get his first game-time – if it’s from the bench with us or with the under-23s. It’s likely to be the under-23s of course.”