John Aldridge: Liverpool won't win the title but their arch rivals will
By Amir Mir
Former Liverpool striker John Aldridge has backed rivals Manchester United to lift the Premier League title this season under the stewardship of Jose Mourinho.
Aldridge made the bold prediction that United can climb from their fifth place of last season to first by highlighting Mourinho’s decision to buy Zlatan Ibrahimović, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and the in-coming Paul Pogba this summer.
Mourinho took over the reigns at Old Trafford after the departure of Louis Van Gaal who was heavily criticised for his robust and rigid style during his three-year period.
United have failed to win the Premier League crown since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement in the 2012-13 season, but Aldridge has backed the Old Trafford club to clinch the title this season.
“Let me tell you who I am backing to win this season’s Premier League title – Manchester United,” Aldridge wrote in his column for the Sunday World.
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“I firmly believe the chips are falling into place for Jose Mourinho to work his magic once again. Mourinho is going for quick-fire success by signing Zlatan Ibrahimović, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Paul Pogba, because he knows that he is at a club that demands trophies every season.”
Former Republic of Ireland international Aldridge scored 63 goals in 104 appearances for the Reds, including his only goal for Liverpool against United at Old Trafford in 1987.
Mourinho beat Premier League champions Leicester on Sunday to win the Community Shield, after predecessor Van Gaal won the FA Cup in his final season.
Liverpool supporters have seen manager Jurgen Klopp bring in an exciting pressing game to the club since his arrival last season.
The Merseyside club have not won a League title since 1990 with many managers having tried, but ultimately failed.
However, Aldridge has backed his former club to run the 20-time league champions close after they spent a club record fee of £35 million on Sadio Mane from Southampton.
“Well, it pains me to say it, but I think United have the right manager in place now and I’m backing him to guide them to the title this season,” Aldridge added. “Even though I believe my old club Liverpool can give Mourinho’s men a run for their money.
“Jurgen Klopp and those controlling the purse strings at Liverpool have a slightly different approach, with the desperation to keep a viable wage structure in place ensuring their transfer strategy is a little more controlled.
“However, this is a season when Liverpool will not have any European football to distract them and history has shown that can be a massive advantage during a title race.”
Klopp guided Liverpool to the Europa League final last season where they were beaten by Spanish giants Sevilla.
Liverpool will begin their quest for silverware with a tough away trip at Arsenal this Sunday, while Manchester United take on Bournemouth on the same day, with Mourniho vying for his fourth Premier League crown.
In other Liverpool team news, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has confirmed this duo will miss the opening Premier League fixture.