Liverpool legend Phil Thompson is backing his old team to beat Manchester United in Wednesday night’s Capital One Cup clash at Old Trafford
The always fiercely emotive Liverpool against Manchester United fixture is “the biggest club game in the world,” reckons former Anfield captain and assistant manager Phil Thompson as he looks ahead to the Merseysiders’ visit to Old Trafford for Wednesday evening’s Capital One Cup Third Round tie.
“As a Liverpool lad the derby against Everton is the big one for me,” Thompson told football-league.co.uk, “but if you go around the world, to places like South East Asia, Liverpool-United has an unbelievable interest and following – it’s seen as the biggest club game in the world, bigger even than Real Madrid-Barcelona.”
Anfield legend Thompson – who as skipper led the Reds to the first of their record eight League Cup triumphs – is backing his beloved team to beat United, just as they did in finals of the competition when Thompson was a player at the club in 1983 and again 20 years later when he was assistant manager.
Sadly for Thompson he was injured and had to watch the 1983 3-2 Wembley win from the stands, but he was in the Millennium Stadium’s technical area along with manager Gerard Houllier when goals from Steven Gerrard and Michael Owen gave the Merseysiders a 2-0 victory over the Red Devils in 2003.
“Those were both incredible occasions and massive for the Liverpool supporters,” said Thompson. “Liverpool have won every trophy going, including the European Cup, but beating United in a final means so much to the fans as they clearly proved with the way they greeted those two wins.
“The League Cup means a lot to me personally, because our win against West Ham in the 1981 final was not only the first time that Liverpool had won the Cup but it was also the first trophy that I lifted as captain – and we went on to win it four times in a row in a fantastic run for the club.”
Current Anfield boss Brendan Rodgers could make the Capital One Cup his first trophy success with Liverpool, believes Thompson, though he feels that the Cup will be coveted by more than a few rivals as the clubs who are engaged in the Champions and Europa Leagues enter The Football League competition.
“There are new managers at four top clubs,” he pointed out, “Manchester City, Chelsea, Everton and of course Manchester United with David Moyes, and I’m sure they would all love to put the Cup in their club’s trophy cabinet – as would Arsene Wenger as he tries to end Arsenal’s long run without winning anything.”
Lifting the trophy will not be in the thoughts of either Rodgers or Moyes before Wednesday’s clash. Both Liverpool and United will step into the tie aiming to bounce back from shock defeats on the weekend - the previously unbeaten Reds 1-0 at home to Southampton and United, calamitously, 4-1 at Manchester City.
Thompson said: “We were top of the table before Saturday, so to lose a game like that at home was massively disappointing. It was even worse for United, though – City had the best players in every area of the pitch, they were the hungrier team, they were absolutely deserving winners and it was a huge Premier League result.
“United don’t do two defeats in a row, but if it does happen it will be an absolute catastrophe for them – getting hammered by their neighbours then losing to the team who most people see as their biggest rivals. David Moyes, the players and the fans daren’t contemplate it, but I think they’ll have to – Liverpool to win 2-1.”