Saturday 29 April 2017

Former Liverpool star believes Manchester United will dent the Reds title hopes this Sunday

Didi Hamann would prefer to play under Jose Mourinho
Didi Hamann would prefer to play under Jose Mourinho
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

Former Liverpool midfielder Dietmar Hamann has backed Manchester United to beat his old club in Sunday’s mouthwatering Premier League clash at Old Trafford - and admitted he would rather play for United boss Jose Mourinho than Reds manager Jurgen Klopp.

Hamann has been impressed by United’s revival under Jose Mourinho’s watch in recent weeks and believes Liverpool will come unstuck when they take on their old foes in Manchester this weekend.

With Sadio Mane absent from Liverpool’s line-up as he plays for his country in the African Cup of Nations, Hamann suggests Klopp’s side will struggle to halt United’s momentum as they look to bounce back into the title race.

“United nullified Liverpool very well when they first played this season at Anfield and I think they may now have the edge on Sunday,” Hamann told Sky Sports.

“Manchester United have found some form in recent weeks and the camp seems to be a lot more happy than it was at the start of the season.

“Mane has been one of the most influential forward players for Liverpool this season and he will be missing, so it will be difficult for them going to Anfield, but this will be a close match.

“The hype leading up to this game is bigger than any other in a season because these are the two most successful clubs in recent history, but you have to make sure the players do not get too up for this game as you don't want to end up playing for 80 minutes with 10 men.”

His comparisons of the management styles of Mourinho and Klopp that makes for interesting readings, as the German fails to back his compatriot in his head to head with the United manager.

“I always like distance between a manager and a player,” he continued. “I don’t like it when managers get too close and too pally with the players.

“From that perspective, I think I’d rather play for Mourinho. I always wanted somebody who tells players and teams what he wants to do.

“Jurgen Klopp has got a different take and I think now things have changed, but I would have liked to have played for both.”

Hamann believes Mourinho took longer than expected to find his feet at United, but he has found a balance that is now producing results.

“There was a time a few weeks ago when United had a seven or eight-point gap to fourth place, and the deficiency now is two points,” he added. “They’re in touching distance with all the other teams apart from Chelsea so Mourinho is a lot more safe.

“His behaviour was a bit erratic at the start of the season, and he took a step back for whatever reason.

“Perhaps someone at the club had a word with him and said at Man Utd he can’t get away with things he may have done at other clubs. I think that’s part to do with the form they’ve found, they look a far happier outfit.

“At the start of the season I tipped him to win the Premier League. Whether a 10-point lead for Chelsea is too much I’m not sure, but I still believe United have the most talented squad and once Mourinho’s teams get going they can be very hard to stop.

“You’ve got to watch out for them in every competition, and in the Premier League I think they’ll be a team to watch out for in the coming months.”

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