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Manchester United to count cost of Liverpool defeat

Manchester United's 20-year run in the Champions League may be about to end. On the basis of this fixture on Sunday lunchtime, Liverpool were the top-four side United were most likely to catch. A heavy defeat to Liverpool has seen a 14 point gap open up between the two sides. With Arsenal playing Spurs on Sunday evening, United could well be 14 points off fourth spot by the end of the day.

Of course, United's other route to Europe's top table would be to win the Champions League. Next Wednesday's task of repairing the damage done in their awful display against Olympiakos will be in the back of their minds, but Lisbon in May seems a very long way away.

Bringing in Juan Mata, agreeing Wayne Rooney's new deal and Robin van Persie's apparent willingness to follow suit all suggest that no expense will be spared in supporting Moyes.

There's every reason to think that United will be real contenders again next season, but for now their great rivals have a momentum which United's season has lacked almost from the first week.

Liverpool have not kicked a ball in anger since winning at Southampton a fortnight ago. Playing only once a week has been a major advantage for them, but not playing enough can bring its own difficulties. At least they've had time to work on defending, which still threatens to be their Achilles heel.

Individual errors by experienced central defenders have been all too frequent, but one of their problems has been the loss of the underestimated Lucas in front of that back four; the Brazilian's return to fitness could not have been better timed.

Liverpool have won their last two away, their first consecutive wins on the road all season. The win over United makes it three on the spin and Liverpool look a serious threat to take the title.

Meanwhile if United do miss the Champions league boat the loss in revenue will have a big impact on United's budget for next season. As Liverpool have found out this season.


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