Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp (left) fist bumps Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (right) before the Emirates FA Cup fourth round match at Old Trafford, Manchester. Picture date: Sunday January 24, 2021.

Jurgen Klopp accepts that Man United have power to decide battle for top 4

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp believes Manchester United have a strong enough squad to still be able to do them a favour in a potentially decisive week in the race for the top four.

Starting on Sunday, United face three matches in five days but it is the midweek games against Leicester and then Klopp’s side which will have a significant bearing on who plays Champions League football next season.

Liverpool’s less-than-convincing 2-0 win over Southampton thanks to Sadio Mane’s first goal at Anfield in 2021 and Thiago’s maiden strike for the club in the 90th minute has put them six points behind the fourth-placed Foxes with a match in hand.

United, who can still mathematically catch champions-elect Manchester City, will probably put out their strongest side for the rescheduled match at home to Liverpool on Thursday, raising concerns that the middle fixture of the week against the Foxes will see a weakened team fielded.

Klopp accepts that is out of his control but has faith in United counterpart Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to put out a strong enough team to challenge Leicester, whose confidence is shaky after dropping five points in their last two matches.

“We have cup competitions and we have games and games and games, so we rotate and people always think we don’t respect the competition,” said Klopp.

“I think everybody is 100 percent sure Ole Gunnar Solskjaer respects the Premier League 100 percent but the situation is now like it is – and I really think it’s crazy what we did with that.

“I think there could be a better situation than that, United has a weekend off after so three games in five days but then a weekend off – it looks like there could have been a window where we could have done something slightly different.

“I understand that he doesn’t like that, definitely, and we will see what we make of that.

“If Man United is [playing a weaker team], we cannot change that. I think Man United only has good players.

“I expect a strong team against us and what they do in other games we obviously have no influence.”

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, May 8, 2021: Liverpool's Rhys Williams (R) celebrates with manager Jürgen Klopp after the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Southampton FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 2-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool remain in the race for Champions League qualification thanks to only their second home league victory of 2021 and Klopp has set them the target of four more wins against United, West Brom, Burnley and Crystal Palace for them to even have a chance of staying in Europe’s elite next season.

And he is prepared to sacrifice performances for results to get them there.

“Yes, the result is the most important but usually the result is the result of the performance,” added the Reds boss.

“This was not since I’m in Liverpool the best game we ever played, but it was a game we had to play.

“We are not in dreamland and say everything has to click again. Again, we didn’t use the first chances, we had really good moments and the last pass was just not there.

“In other moments [earlier in the season] it’s not that important [but] for us in this moment they hurt.”