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23rd Dec 2016

Liverpool’s show of power proves they have left Manchester United behind

This is a damning indictment of Jose Mourinho's reign

Nooruddean Choudry

No empire is eternal.

There are certain tipping points in history. They act as definitive milestones that help chart the rise and ultimate fall of icons and superpowers. Each story has its natural beginning, middle and end, and football is not immune to the changes waves of time.

Friday witnessed such a pivotal twist. For over a half a century, Manchester United and Liverpool have vied for supremacy as the twin superpowers of the English game. It is a unique rivalry born of civic pride that dates back to the Industrial revolution.

For a generation, the Red Devils have lorded it over their arch-nemeses down the East Lancs Road. If the 70s and 80s saw a seemingly insurmountable Scouse surge, Sir Alex Ferguson’s United dominated the next two decades and reclaimed the ‘perch’.

But now we are at the very precipice of another shift in the balance of power – and it’s not good news for the Old Trafford faithful. The evidence was there for all to see at the final press conferences of the respective clubs prior to the Christmas calendar.

Under Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool are a club reborn. They have a renewed confidence and swagger that strongly suggests glory is just around the corner. No where was that more evident than in the festive spread they laid on for their assembled press pack.

In contrast, United’s efforts were ill-conceived, cynical and decidedly short-term. In many ways it was a damning indictment of the way that the club is being run, and doesn’t bode well for Jose Mourinho’s attempts at rejuvenating the increasingly drowsy giant.

First let us analyse the veritable feast of Melwood refreshments…

1) Not one but TWO tins of Fox’s Fabulously biscuit selection – each boasting a second layer. This was a formidable show of strength in depth from the Anfield club.

2) Klopp is nothing if not versatile. If sweet crumbly goodness isn’t your bag, the savoury option of Walkers Crisps and French Fries served as a plan B.

3) Mince pies show a respect for history and tradition, and Liverpool are nothing if not proud of their rich past. Note these are standard size – more on that later.

4) Cadbury Roses are the ultimate crowd pleaser – there is literally something for everyone. It cements the side’s role as Premier League’s entertainers. The propped up guide is a lovely touch.

5) Always seeking to break new markets and spread the Anfield gospel, Liverpool are clearly courting US clientele here. And as we know, the Yanks really do go nuts for doughnuts.

6) On the surface, the likes of Refreshers and Drumstick Squashies may seem a tad puerile, but they emphasise a firm dedication to youth development. An inspired inclusion.

7) and 8) Ah, the duality of the modern game. Both prince and pauper are welcomed at Anfield. Ferrero Rocher appeal to billionaires and ambassadors, whilst Christmas-themed crackers don’t forget the little man.

By harsh contrast to Liverpool’s opulent options, United’s rushed refreshments were verging on scandalous. For shame…

1) The beginning and end of the festive snacks on show are mince pies. Seriously – that’s it. And miniature ones at that! Jose Mourinho couldn’t have been more sneering of the fourth estate had he served up shit on toast.

2) Other than the own-brand pies on show, literally the only thing to suggest we are in the throes of Christmas time were silver napkins. Clearly an after-thought by Doris the canteen lady. She really needn’t have bothered.

3) Could the symbolism be more obvious? Plastic cups. Plastic. Cups. Short-term, unsustainable and utterly disposable. They only add to the sense that Mourinho’s reign will be short-lived and lacking in any legacy. So sad to see.

4) Very much reflective of United’s transfer strategy, the bottles of wine are probably more expensive than any single aspect of Liverpool’s spread, and yet their main objective is to cloud the judgement of the assembled press and distract from fundamental weaknesses.

No doubt this will all make for painful reading for United fans – as well as swelling Scouse hearts with real optimism – but please don’t shoot the messenger. As American rock pseuds Semisonic taught us: Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.