Liverpool handed ‘unfair’ Champions League advantage after Manchester United protests
If it doesn’t seem fair on Manchester United, it’s probably because it isn’t.
But Liverpool can have no sympathy for their bitter North West rivals after the rearranged date for their trip to Old Trafford was confirmed.
After all, it wasn’t the fault of the Reds that they were caught up in the ongoing anger shown by an increasing number of United fans towards the Glazer family who own the three-time European champions.
The stadium and pitch invasion in protest against the Americans ultimately led to Sunday’s Premier League encounter being postponed.
With available dates compromised by United’s ongoing interest in the Europa League and the requirement for the Premier League season to be finished on May 23, it wasn’t until early Wednesday evening that a new date for the fixture was announced.
And United supporters are less than impressed.
The 8.15pm kick-off on Thursday, May 13 comes barely 50 hours after they entertain Leicester City next Tuesday at 6pm.
For Liverpool it’s hardly ideal, meaning they play their final four Premier League games – three of which are away from home in succession – in 11 days.
United, though, face three games in five days – they are at Aston Villa on Sunday afternoon – which is the first time they’ve played so many top-flight matches in such a short period during the Premier League era.
Liverpool know all too well about fixture congestion, it being less than 18 months since they were asked to play twice inside 24 hours on different continents when their League Cup quarter-final and FIFA Club World Cup semi-final clashed.
And back in the 1999/2000 season, United were compelled to withdraw from the FA Cup – as holders – due to their involvement in a briefly-expanded version of the Club World Cup.
Of course, the cynical observer might suggest that, with United almost certain to finish second in the Premier League, they could put out a shadow team for the Leicester game – resting legs for the Liverpool clash while, if not surrendering the Leicester match, then certainly giving the Foxes a better chance of clinching one of the two remaining Champions League berths the Reds are chasing.
But there’s no doubt United’s hectic fixture schedule should give Liverpool an advantage they otherwise wouldn’t have had if the game had gone ahead as planned last weekend.
United’s hardcore protesters remain insistent they will try to disrupt the fixture once again, although surely the authorities will be more prepared this time around.
One thing is for certain, though. Both United and Liverpool will be in agreement that when it comes to favours from the fixture planners, don’t expect any.