Belfast Telegraph

Dalglish insists Liverpool can close gap on unbeaten United

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish admits Manchester United have set the modern-day benchmark for success but insists the status quo should not just be accepted.



The Scot played a major part both on and off the field in the trophy-laden dynasty established by the Merseysiders in the 1970s and 1980s.

However, as the last Reds boss to win the league title in 1990, Dalglish is all too familiar with the shift in power which took place almost as soon as he quit Anfield two decades ago.

United, under long-time foe Sir Alex Ferguson, became the dominant force and their sustained success resulted in them eventually eclipsing Liverpool's proud record of 18 league titles last season.

The return of Dalglish to the manager's job last January raised expectations that the gulf between the two could be closed sooner rather than later and fans hoped the 3-1 win over their arch-rivals at Anfield last March was a portent of things to come.

This campaign has not gone entirely to plan, with defeats at Stoke and Tottenham, but the only gap Dalglish is interested in closing is the one between his fifth-placed side and Ferguson's unbeaten league leaders six points further ahead. “They are in a position that everyone wants to be in and that's top position in the league,” said Dalglish.

“There is no point in being envious. They've set a standard for everyone else to follow or surpass and it's up to us to take up the challenge.

“We've got an opportunity to reduce the gap and it's up to us to take it.

“They are a fantastic team, a hugely successful football club, and we know it's going to be a very difficult game.

The international break came at the wrong time for Liverpool as they had just bounced back from those successive defeats to beat Wolves and Everton and restore confidence within the squad.

It has, however, allowed the Reds medical staff to get everyone back to full fitness and with their internationals returning with no problems, Dalglish has a fully fit squad for the first time this season.

Captain Steven Gerrard, who has been out since March after groin surgery, is set to start his first game in six months. Coincidentally his last start came in that victory over United at Anfield.

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