Klopp still wary of threat Rooney poses
ALEX Ferguson once described Liverpool versus Manchester United as the biggest fixture in club football and tonight's clash at Anfield has been made all the more intriguing by the debate over the form of Wayne Rooney.
United's captain, dropped to the bench by manager Jose Mourinho for his club's last three fixtures, suffered the same fate with England during last week's goalless draw away to Slovenia in a World Cup qualifier.
Rooney has faced heavy criticism lately, yet Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp is still wary of the forward-cum-midfielder, who scored the only goal as United won in the Premier League at Anfield in January.
"I know a lot of what everybody thinks at this moment about Wayne Rooney and I cannot think the same things, even as the manager of Liverpool FC," said Klopp.
"Why does anybody think that Jose Mourinho is blind from one second to the other and says, 'OK, he's not good enough any more but he's still playing'? Or why do they think Sam Allardyce... Gareth Southgate (the interim England boss) did it? They all know about his quality and know about his value for each team he plays in," he added.
Despite Klopp's kind words, Rooney may well have to settle for a place among the substitutes again as United seek to deny Liverpool a victory that would see the Merseysiders go level on points with Premier League leaders Manchester City.
As well as Rooney's form, another sub-plot that has emerged in the build-up to the game concerns referee Anthony Taylor.
The fact that Taylor is based in Manchester has led to complaints about the official's objectivity, even though he supports non-league Altrincham.
Liverpool go into Monday's game seeking to end a run of four straight league defeats against their bitter north-west rivals, but having also knocked United out of last season's Europa League.
Mourinho, who has won one and lost three of his previous five meetings with Klopp, will hope for an improvement at Anfield.