Gary Neville And Jamie Carragher Argue Over Combined Liverpool-Man United XI
Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher agreed the same Man United player would get into Liverpool's current team - but had an intense dispute over whether Paul Pogba deserves a place in a combined XI.
Neville told SPORTbible that Pogba and Bruno Fernandes would get into Liverpool's midfield, adding: "I would probably put Marcus Rashford in up top just for the fact that he will score more goals.
"That's not to demean what Firmino does because, it sounds crazy, I think he's the best centre-forward in the league for the system that Liverpool play. But just on a player basis, I would put Rashford, Pogba and Fernandes into the Liverpool team."
Carragher fired back with: "There would be absolutely no balance in that team." But the ex-Liverpool defender admits he'd been "really impressed" with United's new signing and would find a spot for Fernandes in a joint XI, adding: "I'm a big fan of Harry Maguire, there could be a case for him going alongside Virgil van Dijk."
A stunned Neville interrupted to ask: "Are you saying Pogba wouldn't get into Liverpool's team?!"
Carragher replied: "You're just putting names [into an XI] - that's the problem with Manchester United! You just buy big names and do nothing with them."
"Forget that," said Neville. "We're talking about the talent of individual players vs the individual players that are in their positions - we're not looking to create utopia here. You can't not have Paul Pogba in Liverpool's midfield."
Carra shot back: "Why do you keep talking up Paul Pogba? We've watched him for three years - he's not a new player. He hasn't done anything!"
At this point in our exclusive interview, SPORTbible is sitting back, eating popcorn and wondering where Alexis Sanchez fits into either system. But G-Nev grabs our attention with some impressive stats.
"He's a world-class midfield player," he says, explaining that Pogba's "commitment to United" is the only thing he's questioned. "Twenty combined goals and assists at Juventus, 2015/16. Then you go to United and it's nine in his first season, 16 in his second season, 22 in his third. These are massive stats for a midfield player... He'd get in Liverpool's midfield, come on."
"OK, you know these stats you've got on how good he is: why do Man United keep on finishing fifth or sixth since he's joined the club?" asks Carragher.
"That's like saying Harry Kane wouldn't get in [Manchester] City's team!" replies Neville.
Punditry's greatest double act clearly aren't going to agree on this. However before the Premier League returns to Sky Sports with a double-header on 17 June - followed by a further 20 matches in the opening two weeks - the two frenemies also found plenty more matters to take different sides on.
Who's your Premier League player of the season?
Jamie: "I would go for Sadio Mane. It's funny with Liverpool. I don't think there's been one who's streets ahead of the rest. So someone answering this could easily say Jordan Henderson, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Virgil van Dijk - certainly those four players, I'd say."
Gary: "I'll go with Alisson. I said two years ago that Liverpool had two good goalkeepers in Karius and Mignolet, but I didn't think they could win the league with them... A top-notch goalkeeper makes such a huge difference - probably 10 points a season. You can never quantify it exactly, but you just feel like it's 10 points; 15 points.
"Liverpool would be in a major battle for the title, potentially, without Alisson - if they had a goalkeeper that made mistakes. So I'm going to say Alisson because he's been the difference in turning them from a team which didn't win the Champions League to a team that won it, and will win the league."
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Jamie: "I should say I think Henderson will win Footballer of the Year. He's been brilliant on the pitch - possibly his best season - and you see his impact during lockdown and the pandemic. He almost led the other Premier League captains in getting together the charity, the money that they gave to the NHS... Sometimes Footballer of the Year is chosen not just on the pitch, it's off the pitch as well, so I'm sure Jordan Henderson will get that award and rightly so."
No fault of Liverpool's, but has the shine come off the club's impending title win? Will it not be remembered in the right way because of everything that's happened?
Gary: "When you think of the number of people who've lost their lives in the last two or three months - the situation the whole world has been in - there's no doubt it's not going to feel the same as it would do if it was won in front of fans in a normal time... It's going to be nowhere near as special as it would have been.
"But in terms of the players' achievement, it's a huge moment. I said four-and-a-half years ago when Jurgen Klopp came to Liverpool - I actually remember saying it to Jamie Carragher on Monday Night Football - 'What's the best that he can do at Liverpool?' Chelsea, City and United were spending a fortune - and Liverpool quite simply weren't. They were at that level below.
"I just did not see how Klopp could win the league with Liverpool, no matter how well he did. For him to do what he's done - get to two European Cup finals and take Liverpool to a title win - is a truly outstanding managerial performance."
Jamie: "That moment of winning the league is gone. The person who gets the goal, that celebration, the supporters. I remember last season, when they won the Champions League, celebrating with friends and family - that's just not gonna be there. And rightly so, I think Liverpool fans understand that.
"But you talk about them not being remembered: I mean, people can remember whatever they want to remember... But I'm exactly the same as Gary, we used to talk about that a lot: 'What can Liverpool do?' And I'd lost belief that Liverpool could win the league, really.
"Before Klopp came in we weren't even a Champions League team, we were a Europa League team. I thought we'd almost fallen away too much and we didn't have the finances to match, so the job Klopp's done is incredible.
"Even the big-money signings, they only signed Alisson and Van Dijk for that type of money because they sold Coutinho. If they hadn't sold Coutinho - who was the best player at the time, let's not forget - they wouldn't have been able to fund those transfers. And the situation right now, it looks like Liverpool have pulled out of the Timo Werner deal because even to this day, I still don't think they have the finances of Chelsea, City and Man United. That's only another feather in the cap of Jurgen Klopp."
Who will finish as the Premier League's top five and which clubs will miss out?
Gary: "The top five will be as they are. United are in fifth, aren't they. Three points off Chelsea."
Jamie: "Not if Sheffield United beat Aston Villa on Wednesday!"
Gary: "You're right, Sheffield United have got the game in hand - but generally, I think the top five will be as they are now. I'm not saying they'll be in this order, but the top five will be these five. And obviously we need to wait and see what happens with City's tribunal [to confirm that fifth means Champions League qualification].
"I do think United have got it in them, if they beat Tottenham on Friday, to go and catch Chelsea in fourth. They could do that, but we wait and see."
Jamie: "I'm the same, I think Friday's game is huge - Tottenham vs Manchester United. If you actually look at Jose [Mourinho], he's been pushing the boundaries on training in lockdown. They've had their knuckles rapped a couple of times - but I think Jose looks at that Manchester United game and thinks: 'If I win that game, we're right on for the Champions League.'
"If Tottenham lose it, I don't see any way back from that. I agree with Gary, I'm still confident Man United will get that fifth position, which might be enough. I'm not quite sure they'll get to fourth. But I think there's a lot riding on that game on Friday night and if Tottenham get it, they're a point behind United - and it's game on for the Champions League positions."
Sky Sports and NOW TV will show 64 matches - 39 exclusive to subscribers and an extra 25 available on Sky's free-to-air channel 'Pick'
All imagery: PA Images
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