By 90Min
March 08, 2018

The history of two of England's most successful clubs are often intertwined, the burning desire to stamp a dominant mark of authority and one up each other runs deeps into the fabric of both sides. 

Each has ebbed and flowed through periods of success and the depths of despair throughout their respective history, Liverpool the kings of the First Division and Manchester United the rulers of the Premier League.

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The appointment of Bill Shankly in 1959 set off a chain reaction which established the deep rooted rivalry between the two northern powerhouses, and catapulted Liverpool to the fore of English football - winning 42 trophies from 1963 to 1992.

Although United struggled to grab a stranglehold on the game through the Reds' period of dominance, their success soon came at the demise of their rivals as 39 pieces of silverware flooded into Old Trafford between 1992 and 2017 - due to the brilliance of Sir Alex Ferguson. 

What epitomised these two respective periods of success was an ingrained playing style and identity; the Reds embodied passion and teamwork and United aggressive and resilient, but both laregly intent on entertaining the masses with attacking football. 

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Yet, ahead of another tantalising clash between the two clubs, one sides' identity is prospering whilst the other remains a questionable work in progress.  

The emerging style and philosophy under Jurgen Klopp and Jose Mourinho could not be more opposite, the former is forging ahead with an attacking prowess, with teamwork and fearlessness at the fore. Whilst the latter prefers a pragmatic approach which calculates risk and dampens the freedom of their plethora of attacking talent.

Although the short-term battle is a fight for second place in the league - and a bid to outdo one another in the Champions League - a look at the bigger picture could spell trouble for United. 

Liverpool are forging ahead with an unwavering identity. Klopp has his chargers reading off the same script with intensity, pressure, fluid movement, unity and attacking football at the fore. The German's vision for the Merseysiders has been a steady progression but from day one it was evident that a greater plan and vision was already in motion.

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The Reds may not have the ability to match United in the transfer market pound for pound but they have a manager who knows how to extract every last ounce of talent and effort from a player to get the desired result. 

The emergence and rapid development of Andy Robertson, Roberto Firmino and Mo Salah  - just to name a few - under the tutelage of Klopp proves as much. It ensures the Reds are starting to strike fear into the opposition before they even step over the white line like they did in 70s and 80s. 

It is a warning to not only United, but the rest of the Premier League and Europe's elite that a sleeping giant is awakening at its fiercest best. Whilst they may not be the finished article at this stage, the signs are one of optimism and one senses that once the Reds end their barren run of silverware it could very well open the flood gates. 

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Now, whilst United are currently second in the table and have a host of star names who are arguably man for man deemed better than Liverpool's, they are a side desperately calling out for a clear direction. 

It came as no surprise or secret as to the style of play Mourinho would bring to Old Trafford, although it felt as though the club were willing to sacrifice their ingrained style of attacking play for short-term success.  

Mourinho is a winner, there is no doubt about it. He has proven it time and time again. But his defensive and negative approach to football is everything United isn't. The relentlessness, lack of fear and attacking intent under Ferguson was a trademark of the club's worldwide dominance.

United have the attacking talent to match Liverpool's but the likes of Alexis Sanchez, Anthony Martial, Paul Pogba, Marcus Rashford and Romelu Lukaku are all being constricted in a style of play which severely inhibits their natural creative instinct. 

Thus, whilst United struggle to balance the quench for silverware and their deeply rooted desire for attacking football, Liverpool's identity is prospering under a manger with a long term vision.

Whilst on only six occasions since 1972 have neither Liverpool nor United finished in the top two of the league table, the clash on Saturday afternoon goes far beyond a position in the table as it could signal yet another swing in power between the fierce rivals.

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