Last updated : 23 January 2006 By editor

Alan Hansen in The Daily Telegraph:

‘The traditional English blockbuster between Manchester United and Liverpool does not have the same significance nowadays as it used to have because Chelsea have become such a dominant force and are now reigning supreme.

Even a rare slip by Chelsea yesterday in dropping two points at home to a Charlton team they were expected to beat easily did little to raise the importance of the Old Trafford showdown.

Fighting for second place is nothing like battling it out for the big prize. United and Liverpool knew before they took the field that runners-up spot was the best they could hope for and played out the game with that in mind.

People said that you needed a winner in this match because it would take three points for one of the teams to go and challenge Chelsea but the way the game was played indicated that both sides knew any such challenge was beyond them.

That, for me, reduces the impact of a Liverpool-Man United collision. You only get the real excitement and atmosphere when one of the two clubs is first and the other is trying to get there.

When Liverpool were ruling the roost and United were nowhere it was always a great game to look forward to. Similarly when United were in the ascendancy and Liverpool were regrouping it was a tremendous occasion. But because Chelsea are so far in front of them it is not the same any more.

For the rest of the country it is still an attractive fixture but it doesn't capture the imagination the way it used to and it won't regain that aura until one of the two teams is on top of the league again and the other is trying to get at them.

Either United or Liverpool will finish second and, in all honesty, who cares? The United supporters are not going to taunt Liverpool for finishing third or vice-versa.’