Comparing Liverpool's Title Chasers With Manchester United's Class of '93


As Brendan Rodgers said last week, nostalgia is in the air at Liverpool.

A run at the title, together with the 25th anniversary of Hillsborough, has drifted thoughts back to the 1980s, when Anfield was English football's Camelot. It was a Liverpool world back then, and it was Liverpool that the world aspired to.

Every second kid on the street supported Liverpool. Every game on the TV involved Liverpool. Ian Rush was so famous he was name-checked in an advert for milk (Accrington Stanley, who are they?). Liverpool were everywhere. And then an empire went into hiding.

The wait for its return has been agony for Liverpool fans - an open wound aggressively salted by the successes of Manchester United - but the wait could be over. If Rodgers and his exhilarating team finish the job they've started, Liverpool will be champions this season.

To measure the significance of that possibility, comparison with United's class of 1992-93 seems apt. They were, after all, the team that broke the seal for Alex Ferguson - the first of 13 Premier League titles and unquestionably the most important.

Here's what they have in common with Liverpool's 2013-14 crop.

 

THE WAIT

United waited 26 years before Ferguson finally ended the drought in 1993, driving his team past Aston Villa to end with a 10-point cushion. Their last title had come in the days of Best, Charlton and Law - a generation ago, but it felt so much longer when you consider the cultural changes in that time span.

Liverpool will stop the clock at 24 years if they seal the title against Newcastle on the final day of the season. Many of club's fans weren't even born when Kenny Dalglish led the likes of Alan Hansen, Peter Beardsley, John Barnes and Ian Rush to glory in 1990.

 

THE TROUBLED STRIKER

For Luis Suarez, read Eric Cantona.

Though the two men are very different personalities, there are clear parallels in the importance of man management for both. The raw talent of Cantona was never in doubt, but to extract a defining contribution was what made the difference for Ferguson's team in 1993.

Will we be saying the same about Rodgers and Suarez in May? It's very possible.

 

GOLDEN SUNSETS

Liverpool players have talked about winning the title for Steven Gerrard, who made his debut in 1998 and is now in his 16th season with the club he's given his career to. It might not be his sunset, but at 33 Gerrard won't have many more chances.

The equivalent in United's 1992-93 team was Bryan Robson. Robbo was older, at 36, and far less pivotal to Ferguson than Gerrard is to Rodgers, but there was a clear sense his contribution over the years had earned a title.

Robson was in his 12th season at United. Fittingly he rounded it off with the winning goal at Wimbledon on the final day.

 

THE BRIGHT YOUNG THING

Raheem Sterling has been a revelation this season. Aged just 19, he has that shown that rare combination of freedom and focus in a young player - cutting through opponents with his positive runs on the ball, while also developing his distribution and game intelligence.

That man in the 1992-93 campaign for United was of course Ryan Giggs, who was also 19 that season. Giggs was a force of nature for United. Like Sterling, there was a fearlessness in his play and his coming appeared to symbolise a bold new dawn.

 

LACK OF DISTRACTIONS

By the middle of February 1993, Manchester United were out of the FA Cup, League Cup and UEFA Cup. The league was all that remained.

Liverpool have been granted even greater focus. There has been no European football for Rodgers' team, they were gone from the League Cup in September and the FA Cup ended at United on February 16th.

 

THE UNCOMPROMISING DEFENDER

Martin Skrtel has scored seven Premier League goals from centre-back  this season. It's already two more than Steve Bruce managed for United in the 1992-93 campaign, but the two share an ability for setting the tone and a penchant for heading an important goal.

 

THE RUN-IN

United finished the 1992-93 season with seven straight wins, conceding just four times along the way.

Liverpool are at 10 wins and counting, with four games left the play and the possibility they could round of the season with 14 in a row.

 

PICKING A COMBINED XI

It's hard to argue which is better, because these are teams set up to succeed in very different eras. But if you were tasked to picked a combined best XI from the Liverpool 2013-14 and United 1992-93 squads (based on how the players performed in those seasons), it might look something like this.

(4-3-3) Schmeichel, Johnson, Bruce, Skrtel, Irwin, Giggs, Gerrard, Ince, Sturridge, Suarez, Cantona

Not a bad lineup.

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