Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp stressed to his players they must consider the visit of Manchester United as the chance to win “the most important three points in your life.”
With seven Premier League matches remaining and a one-point deficit to leaders Manchester City, Klopp’s side know they have to be perfect for the remainder of the season if they are to stand a chance of taking the title from their rivals.
And while United, their traditional long-term foes, arrive in a situation a long way short of what could be considered their best, Klopp insists they cannot take anything for granted even though they have won 10 and drawn of their last 12 league matches.
“We have to be angry in a good way, greedy all these kind of things, like you are if you have won nothing and would be with nil points and it’s the most important three points in your life,” said Klopp.
“That’s the attitude we need for this game. If we let United do (what they want) they will cause us massive problems.
“We have to be in the right mood, the people have to be in the right mood to really be ready to fight for the three points and not want to show we are in a better moment than United. Who is interested about that?
“There are times when you have better moments than other teams then you get a knock and that’s it with the better moment. Who cares?
“They want the three points we need. That’s that attitude we have to show.”
United’s patchy form means although they are fifth, just three points off Champions League qualification, they are 19 points behind Liverpool.
Sacking Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in November and bringing in Ralf Rangnick, someone who Klopp knows well from their time in Germany, has not had the desired effect United would have hoped for.
And while Klopp cannot allow himself time to think about their rivals’ situation he does appreciate how difficult it can be to raise a club out of the doldrums.
“We had a similar situation when I started here. We were not flying from the first day, let me say it like this, and you might have thought after six or seven weeks, is it really much better than before?” he added.
“When you are in that situation, you just accept it that you need all the steps. You cannot just put on a magic sprinkle and go from here.
“It is completely normal that expectations are always short-term, never long-term.
“You want the advantage now and forever, and not from five months on forever – that is the problem we all have. That might be the situation there.
“But we don’t face the teams who has problems, we face Manchester United and if I go through the line-up that could play, the goalkeeper is world class, the last line absolute top, then (in midfield) I’m not sure if McTominay and Fred can play and it might be Pogba and Matic. Then up front you can choose from Sancho, Fernandes, Elanga or Rashford, and a guy who scored his 60th hat-trick.
“That is the team we face. That’s what we have to prepare for, not what happened last week or something like that.”