English football has always had some of the sport’s most venomous rivalries between clubs but there really aren’t that many that even come close to the animosity shared between the supporters of Manchester United and Liverpool, the country’s two most successful teams.
It’s a relationship built on years of back-and-forth success between the two sides and while United’s dominance over English football in the last 20 years has seen them take home more silverware, Liverpool has always been a constant around the top of the table and boast the type of history that any club would be proud of.
One of the key talismans for modern-era Liverpool has been midfielder Steven Gerrard, who despite leaving for a brief stint in the MLS in 2015, was born in Liverpool and played for the club since a young age.
Gerrard, over the years, has played with and against some of the greatest players to ever compete on English soil and his own career is one worthy of the highest praise, but recently the ex-England international spoke briefly about a young man who perhaps will be measured by the same standards as some of the great imports to the league, Manchester United’s Paul Pogba.
Pogba, who rejoined United for a record fee after a highly successful time in Italian football, came under a lot of criticism at first due to his somewhat underwhelming performances in the opening games of the season but now, with United’s form steadily improving, he seems to have found his rhythm and has picked up six goals in all competitions this year.
Gerrard, who certainly knows a good central midfielder when he sees one, had this to say on Pogba while speaking to BT Sport (via the Mirror):
“I think he’s got better and stronger week by week. He’s obviously a phenomenal talent. I think coming in with that big price tag early on has weighed him down a bit and Manchester United weren’t in their rhythm. I think Michael Carrick compliments him so well.”
It did seem for a while that the 23-year-old was taking a while to gel with manager Jose Mourinho’s style, and the inconsistency of United’s teamsheet over the first few weeks probably didn’t help but now, with Mourinho’s best XI becoming more and more concrete, the best is more than likely yet to come from the Frenchman.
“Now we’re seeing the Paul Pogba we all expected to see. He’s only going to get better and better. He’s young, he’s leggy, he’s got all the tools in the bag.
“There’s no doubt about it, he’s one of the best midfielders in the world now and he’s going to get better which is a scary thought being a Liverpool fan.”
Well, there you have it, folks. With the blessing of the legendary Gerrard behind him, only time will tell how successful Pogba’s second run at United will be. But in the last few weeks his performances do seem to suggest that he is slowly finding his way towards justifying his massive price tag and winning over those who perhaps would have doubted him in the past.
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena