DANNY MURPHY: It hurts me to say this as an ex-Liverpool man but welcome back, Manchester United… nothing can compare to the biggest two clubs in the country going toe-to-toe for the title
- Manchester United moved joint-top of the table with a 2-1 win over Aston Villa
- Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has coped very well despite a tricky start to the season
- A rivalry between Liverpool and United at the top of the league is a good thing
My natural instinct isn’t to wish Manchester United well but I have to appreciate that seeing them in the title mix, currently joint-top with Liverpool, is good for the game.
The rivalry between Liverpool and Manchester City has been enthralling in recent years but nothing can compare with seeing the biggest two clubs in the country — Liverpool and United — going toe to toe.
United’s revival under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is an example that patience can be the best policy towards a manager. There have been many times when Solskjaer has been written off or needed a result to secure his job and he’s always found a way.
Manchester United are now level on points with Premier League leaders Liverpool at the top
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has turned United’s fortunes round after a difficult start to the season
That is a credit to him and perhaps a lesson to trigger-happy chairmen that you sometimes have to give managers a proper chance, particularly when they are trying to instigate long-term change.
I think Solskjaer has conducted himself remarkably well over the past couple of years. He is hard to dislike. I think they will fall just short this season, over 38 games Liverpool and City are still stronger, but he’s made United competitive again.
And if the worst happens and United end up champions, Solskjaer is the one person you wouldn’t mind winning because he would remain humble and take it the right way, as Jurgen Klopp did at Liverpool.
If Jose Mourinho had won the League with United, it would have been something different!
Solskjaer (left) has handled himself very well as United boss despite being under pressure
In the meantime, January may not be the busiest transfer window ever but one potential deal that would help is Liverpool signing a centre-half. They have coped very well with losing Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip but with the amount of fixtures to come against top quality, it is something Klopp should certainly look at.
I like David Alaba at Bayern Munich and my old Liverpool team-mate Didi Hamann sings his praises. The question is whether he’d prefer a move to Spain rather than England.
Leipzig’s Dayot Upamecano is a proper player but his team have drawn Liverpool in the Champions League.
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp (left) will be feeling the pressure but has coped well with injuries
We all know Sergio Ramos’s history with Liverpool, while Chelsea won’t want to sell Antonio Rudiger to a rival. Conor Coady at Wolves is more used to playing in a back five, so I do see the problem in finding the right centre-half.
Klopp showed by waiting for Van Dijk that he doesn’t like racing into the market.
I’d suggest their scouts and transfer team scour the football world for a centre-back who can help them cope with injuries.
It would be a risk not to even try and find a solution, even though Nathaniel Phillips and Rhys Williams haven’t let anyone down.