In Liverpool, Manchester United see the pain and path to recovery
Liverpool holds a comfortable lead over Manchester City
A trip to Anfield is a journey into Manchester United's deepest anxieties.
Liverpool is the club setting the standards which United tries to emulate while dreading replicating Liverpool's three decades of anguish to reach this point.
When United play the world and European champions on Sunday, the best United coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer can hope for is slowing a title charge so relentless it seems a done deal with almost half the season still to play.
"It can be an intimidating place," Solskjaer said.
Especially since Liverpool holds a comfortable lead over Manchester City at the top of the Premier League - a largely unfamiliar position for a team which last won the championship in 1990. That title extended England's title record to 18, cementing Liverpool's status at the time as a soccer force with a collapse simply unthinkable.
But as the Liverpool dynasty faded, United was resurgent. Once the team's 26-year title drought ended in 1993, Alex Ferguson ruled the Premier League. The trophy was collected by Ferguson for a 13th time before heading into retirement in 2013 and leaving United as the 20-time English champions with Liverpool's mark overhauled.
But United has not come close to winning the title since then, with just one runners-up finish while Liverpool is a force again under Juergen Klopp.
With Solskjaer the fourth manager in the post-Ferguson era, United is 27 points behind Liverpool going into Sunday's game. For the firth-place team the prospect of a 21st English title seems remote. The drought is seven years and counting, but still far from Liverpool's 30-year barren run.
"That's what we're working hard to make sure doesn't happen and let that be a lesson for us," Solskjaer said.
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