Legendary Manchester United boss Alex Ferguson joked he is glad to have retired so he does not have to go up against Jurgen Klopp’s “phenomenal” Liverpool side.
Ferguson guided United to 13 Premier League titles during his illustrious 27-year tenure at Old Trafford, succeeding in his aim of ‘knocking Liverpool off their perch’ as English football’s most successful club.
United have yet to win the title since the Scotsman retired in 2013, while Liverpool ended a three-decade wait to be crowned champions of England last season by finishing top of the pile – 33 points better off than the Red Devils.
Liverpool also went all the way in the Champions League two seasons ago and, ahead of Sunday’s top-of-the-table showdown between the bitter rivals, Ferguson revealed he is a big admirer of Klopp’s work over the past few years.
“I’ve always considered the Manchester United and Liverpool derby the game of the season,” said Ferguson, speaking in aid of Sports United Against Dementia and the League Managers’ Association’s charity In The Game.
“Quite simply, they are the two most successful teams in Britain when you add up all the trophies they’ve won together.
“It’s obvious that you have to beat Liverpool to win anything. It’s similar to when I was at Aberdeen – you had to beat Rangers and Celtic to win anything and you can add a mental attitude to that.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) January 15, 2021
“In reality, it is the game. Liverpool’s success over the 70s and 80s was phenomenal.
“To do that, I had to take a road that was always going to be difficult, it meant I had to wait in terms of building the club. Eventually, it turned out fantastically for us.
“Now I’ve retired, and thank goodness I’ve retired actually when I see Liverpool’s performance over the last two seasons – they’ve been phenomenal. I’ve got great respect for Liverpool, I always have.”
Jordan Henderson wrote his name in Liverpool folklore by captaining the club to their first ever Premier League triumph, a year on from lifting the Champions League trophy.
Ferguson previously criticised Henderson for his running style, but the 79-year-old has now clarified his past comments and revealed United were close to signing the midfielder before he arrived at Anfield in 2011.
“We were ready to make a bid for him,” he said. “There was criticism from Brendan Rodgers about my assessment of Jordan.
“The actual story was we were ready to make a bid for him at Sunderland. I spoke to Steve Bruce. Our scouting and medical department said they weren’t happy with his running style.
“They said he could be the type to get injuries. I had to make sure players would always be available. But we loved Jordan as a player.
“He has proved that now. All the stories I hear about him tell me that I missed out on a really good person.”