Liverpool host Manchester United on Sunday in one of the most highly anticipated fixtures of the football season…well, for Liverpool and Manchester United fans anyway.
Brendan Rodgers must be given credit for the manner in which his side has started the season, but the accuracy of the ‘Super Sunday’ status this match-up so regularly receives is debatable.
Manchester United have not had to worry about Liverpool in any capacity other than a highly-charged encounter twice a season for some time now.
A lack of Champions League football and off-field woes have seen the Anfield club slip down the Premier League table with frustrating inconsistency.
Anfield is the setting on Sunday afternoon and it will always provide a lively atmosphere when the teams meet, but outside of this particular bubble there is no real lure in the fixture.
Luis Suarez’s disagreeable antics in recent games have provided a dramatic sub-plot, but they have essentially become examples of United professionally dealing with a spirited underdog.
Now that Sir Alex Ferguson has left and he did so having overhauled Liverpool’s league titles record, there is a lack of bite to the match that will need more than the former Everton manager to bring it back.
Scheduling has even taken away any possibility of the game having any bearing at all on the season as a whole – a loss for either side is not the end of the world and there is more than enough time to bounce back from it.
Perhaps this is the season that Liverpool make it back into the top four and re-establish themselves among the Premier League’s premier sides, but every year without the lucrative participation in Europe’s leading competition makes getting back there even more difficult.
Europa League fodder versus the reigning champions is not the best that can be thrown up by the Premier League, though you can guarantee the channel televising it will attempt to milk as much ‘feeling’ out of the occasion as possible.
For a fixture that was once one of the most exciting going, the current lure is a shame but is the reality.
Hopefully the players can provide an entertaining spectacle to liven up the afternoon, but there is nothing to suggest it can do more than when any other top four side meets a mid-table opponent.
Who knows? This could be the time for Rodgers’ young side to secure a win that reinforces their self-belief and propels them to a successful season.
Either way, Manchester United against Liverpool is now a run of the mill potential underdog story and little more else.