RUMOURS of unrest in the Manchester United camp have filtered out of the club this week, with the players said to be unhappy at Louis van Gaal’s training methods as he lives up to his sergeant major reputation.
Sir Alex Ferguson, of course, also ran Old Trafford with an iron fist but it remains to be seen whether the Dutchman can follow in his trophy-laden footsteps.
A return to the Champions League has been delivered and another heavy-spending summer means that a lot more will be expected this season.
But after an inauspicious start United are already out to 14/1 with Sportingbet for the title.
Routine wins over Tottenham and Aston Villa were followed up with a disappointing draw at home to Newcastle and a defeat in Swansea where van Gaal was tactically outmuscled by Garry Monk.
This weekend he pits his wits against another young manager with big ideas.
Brendan Rodgers’ star was soaring when he walked through the door at Anfield and a title tilt in his second season saw it shine all the brighter.
However, he is the first Liverpool manager since the 1950s not to deliver a trophy in the first three years of his tenure and the owners have demonstrated patience to stick with him.
Liverpool have had an identical sequence of results as United so this feels like a defining game for both teams and the men in charge.
Last season van Gaal enjoyed the upperhand when United took maximum points off their fierce rivals, winning 3-0 at home and 2-1 away.
Wayne Rooney netted in the contest at Old Trafford and, still awaiting his first Premier League strike of this season, setting the England goalscoring record will have delivered a timely boost to his confidence.
Given that both sides have struggled in front of goal – United have only registered three times and Liverpool twice – I think it will be a tight game.
United are 10/11 with Sportingbet and I’d also be happy to back them at 5/1 with the same firm to win 1-0.
Manchester United 10/11 (Sportingbet)
United win 1-0 5/1 (Sportingbet)