Manchester United have been living on past glories for too long, says John Barnes, with the former Liverpool star seeing a “huge similarity” between the current situation at Old Trafford and one he previously experienced at Anfield.
Barnes, who moved to Merseyside in 1987, formed part of the last Reds side to lift the English top-flight title.
It appears as though a 30-year wait to land that piece of silverware will be brought to a close by Jurgen Klopp’s class of 2019-20, but there have been plenty of tough times through the last three decades.
Liverpool found themselves knocked off the loftiest of perches by the emergence of Sir Alex Ferguson’s all-conquering United side in the 1990s, with Barnes conceding that standards were allowed to slip.
Similar struggles have been endured in Manchester over recent years, with the Red Devils finding themselves stuck in a rut on the back of Ferguson’s retirement in 2013.
Barnes believes that is because too many players consider merely playing for United to be enough, rather than having the hunger and ambition to maintain the standards set by those who went before them.
The ex-England international told beIN Sports of the Red Devils mirroring their fiercest north west rivals: “I see a huge similarity between Manchester United and Liverpool, huge similarity and I'll tell you in what way.
“In the way when I first went to Liverpool, they were a successful team before I was there and the demands to win and the pressure to win was the most important thing, regardless of whether they had superstars like Ian Rush, Kenny Dalglish and they had won everything.
“The demand to win everything was there. Then, all of a sudden, Manchester United came along in the early nineties and things had changed.
“If you look at the way the players were after say 1992-93, Liverpool still was a huge club, and it seemed that the players there were happy to be at Liverpool without necessarily recognising the responsibility to win.
“So when we were finishing third in the league, fourth in the league, we were still Liverpool players, bigger than 99 per cent of the teams, even if they finished above us, Arsenal whoever, but we were the Liverpool players without the demands to win.
“So we still got that kudos, that feeling that we are great, that we are better than everyone else because we are Liverpool players.
“Now with Manchester United, when Ryan [Giggs] was there and he came through and they started to win all the Premier League trophies, regardless of whether they won the Premier League the year before, they had that demand that they put on themselves to win.
“Then I think after that Man City took over, Manchester United still were the biggest club, and the players were happy to be with Manchester United without recognising the responsibility of having to win.
“Because if they finished third and Tottenham finished above they were still bigger than Tottenham players because they played for Manchester United, and that happened at Liverpool.”
Liverpool have shown how dramatically things can turn around, with a memorable 2019 seeing them claim Champions League, UEFA Super Cup and Club World Cup crowns, while also surging clear at the top of the Premier League table.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is the man charged with the task of bringing the good times back for United, with the 1999 Treble winner having his side in contention for FA Cup and Europa League glory while building towards a return to title contention in the near future.