The Liverpool-Manchester United divide is perhaps most perfectly summed up when watching Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville go at it in the Monday Night Football studio.
Both are perfectly capable of taking objective stances when it comes to their own team, however it is when they strongly defend their respective old clubs that the sparks really start to fly.
On Monday night it was no different as the two former on-field foes strongly argued their points about Jose Mourinho’s season so far.
The heated discussion began when Neville started analysing the Portuguese’s head-to-head record against top six opposition.
“He’s always been second or first in terms of goalscoring and he’s always been second or first in goalscoring against the top six,” argued Neville.
“This season is the freak – and is probably the worst-performing team he has managed in the last 10 or 15 years.”
From here the Liverpudlian jumped in (via Sky Sports) in his typical no nonsense style.
CARRA: He’s always had one of the best sides. He has managed top teams so you would expect him to score a lot of goals.
NEV: Chelsea, you could argue, weren’t the top team when he came.
CARRA: They were one of the top teams. They were second in the league the year before. You talk about him getting these players, but what players are you talking about? He’s got Paul Pogba, the most expensive player in the world and Mkhitaryan.
NEV: Would you accept he’s got a squad of 24 and 20 of them are not his?
CARRA: Mourinho was talking about the league at the start of the season, so why would you be taking these tactics into these games?
NEV: This season is not good enough in terms of league performance…
CARRA: Is that because of those tactics?
NEV: No, I don’t think it’s the tactics. Ultimately they’ve not been good enough. The games where they’ve dropped most points have been at home against the lesser teams – Bournemouth, Hull, Stoke, Burnley and West Brom. They’ve had 25 shots in most of those games.
CARRA: Their record in big games isn’t good you know?
NEV: I know, but where they’ve dropped most points and it’s been disastrous is at home. They’ve dropped 10 or 12 points at home against stupid teams. I don’t know why the wide players are so deep. Is it acceptable as a tactic at Manchester United? No.
CARRA: They’re there because he wants them there.
NEV: Hang on a second… in 12 months’ time I would expect Manchester United’s midfield to be further forward in big games. The difference is 15 yards further forward in the wide players.
And so it went on and on until the presenter, David Jones, stepped in.
This season, in terms of Mourinho’s head-to-head record against the league’s best sides, has not been good enough. At key points in the campaign it has been clear that Mourinho’s side just aren’t up to scratch. Another summer of heavy investment will be needed to push United back into their rightful place in the top four.
And while tactics of course come into the equation, the sheer impact injuries have had on the squad show that the level of depth compared to the likes of Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham isn’t there yet.
Arrest this and improve tactically and United could have a superb 2017/18 campaign.
You can watch the debate in full below.
Rob Lyons, Pundit Arena