Jan Molby

Defeat harsh on Liverpool – but the crunch time is now

Jan Molby

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Liverpool versus Manchester United is the biggest rivalry there is in English football - and that's not about to change.

From the point of view of who wins the title, the City game might be bigger, but the deep-rooted rivalry will always be Liverpool and Manchester United. The rivalry was as intense back when I played - it was role reversal, with them chasing us as the dominant force. You always knew you were in for a really tough game, physically and mentally, but I enjoyed them.

Our rivalry with Everton was like United's rivalry with City now - in terms of who was going to win the title, it was Everton, but in terms of rivalry, it was Manchester United.

Even yesterday, with the Hillsborough tributes and everything, you always felt like it was a fragile peace. It was never going to take much for it to kick off. It's perhaps unrealistic to expect every fan to behave impeccably, and we may have expected something unsavoury to happen, but that doesn't make it acceptable - we shouldn't have to expect fans to behave like animals.

There's always that minority that take things a little bit further, to a level where it doesn't deserve to be. It should be about what happens on the pitch, but that is very difficult. I don't think it makes them less of a fan - it's very difficult to judge what makes a good or bad fan - and people who go to games are fans either way. But some see the whole thing differently to others.

For the majority the day went as well as you could have hoped for - there is a great deal of respect between Liverpool and United fans and the vast majority behaved impeccably. For them, it is a healthy rivalry.

It's a massive ask for the bitterness to go out of the rivalry, but it's something we'd all like to see. There's some work to be done, some counselling to be done before we get to that point.

The whole day was very moving. It's been a while since I heard 'You'll Never Walk Alone' sung like that, on what was a special day. The Bobby Charlton tribute was also a nice touch.

I think the Liverpool fans were just happy to get the day over with and try to move on. The fight for justice goes on, and we never forget - but now we can get back to the football. There is still a football season to be played.

And Liverpool played well, but lack a little bit of knowledge of how to win games. The first thing you have to do is score goals - then you get the knowhow of how to do it. Five of the starting XI were 22 or younger. It's very much a work in progress.

Raheem Sterling, with his ability, will always be able to impact games. Suso is not particularly quick but he's very comfortable on the ball and he's got a bit of arrogance about him - it didn't faze him coming into that game on Sunday.

But you're looking for your more experienced players to drag the team through what they're going through at the moment: you cannot put pressure on the younger ones and expect them to lift the team through. That isn't going to happen.

We just didn't have enough - we've been left in real trouble with our dealings in the transfer window. We let an awful lot of experienced players go without really replacing them.

United know how to win games. They need some players too, but they don't need to dominate to win games. They just need their moments - and those moments are enough because of the quality and experience those players have.

I'm not worried about Liverpool's league position - we're due a win. What the fans understand is that Brendan Rodgers knows how he wants to play; and more importantly, he knows how to get there. It's not just something he throws out there and says 'we want to play like Barcelona' - he actually knows how to implement that.

The fans like the way he speaks and they can see massive strides already. Compare the way they played on Sunday with the way they played against West Brom or Arsenal - every time we see Liverpool, there's a little bit more added to the way that they play. I think the performance was a natural progression, rather than simply because it was Manchester United they were playing.

The fans understand that it would be a difficult first five games, but now there's a run of games where they won't be so understanding. The next month is of massive importance. You either drag yourself back into the top eight or you don't - if we don't get it right, the season could be over.

Refereeing mistakes happen - they're part of the game. But I thought the red card was very, very harsh - the fair thing would probably have been to send both of them off. But that never happens. Somebody has to be the culprit. From where the referee was, he deemed it to be Shelvey.

I also thought it was a harsh penalty and there was a penalty shout for Suarez, but Suarez isn't going to get a penalty unless it's stonewall. But it's his own fault - he's built that reputation by going to ground easily. He plays on the edge - he's always twisting and turning in and among the defenders. He's the type of player who doesn't need a second invitation.

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