Carragher believes Anfield victory over rivals can spur Liverpool on to top four finish

Champions League qualification a must in terms of future progress according to former defender

Jamie Carragher played 508 English Premier League games for Liverpool over 17 seasons.

Jamie Carragher played 508 English Premier League games for Liverpool over 17 seasons.

 

Former Liverpool star Jamie Carragher believes his old club needs Champions League football next season more than Manchester United and a win tomorrow, he says, could give Brendan Rogers’s the psychological edge required to push on and claim a top four spot at the expense of their old rivals.

The lunchtime game, he says, is given an extra edge by the fact that both clubs find themselves battling for the same objective, a rarity he admits during his own time at Anfield, but the stakes are higher for the hosts as they seek the revenue and drawing power that Champions League football brings ahead of the summer transfer window.

“In terms of the future, the problem is that Manchester United have got more money than Liverpool, they bring in more money,” says the 37 year-old who was in Dublin to launch Carlsberg Legends, a promotion in which fans can win the opportunity to play at Anfield themselves by visiting the company’s facebook page.

“They spent £150 million in the summer and even if they don’t have a great season they can go and spend that again and it won’t affect them in terms of Financial Fair Play because they bring so much revenue. That’s why it’s vital for Liverpool to get into the Champions League again and rival that.”

Their history alone will ensure the game has a sense of occasion about it but the fact that it’s a six pointer in terms of the race for the top four is a bit of bonus for those on the sidelines, he reckons.

“It’s always an intense game,” he says, “It’s always a huge game but, to be honest, it’s very rare that we have been challenging each other for the same thing. For the majority of my career we were a team fighting to get into the top four or stay in the top four. Now and again we’d have a title challenge. Last season was roles reversed. United were trying to get in the top four, Liverpool were going for the league. So to be both going for the same objective, champions league football, that’s the added spice in the game.

Carragher admits to missing being involved with games like this and the derbies against Everton, the club he supported as a boy.

Whatever about that childhood preference, however, he says he wouldn’t mind seeing Liverpool nicking James McCarthy away from their rivals as part of building programme this summer although the midfielder, he believes, still needs to add goals to his game if he is truly to deliver on his vast potential.

“I love McCarthy,” he says. “I think he’s a brilliant player. If there was one player I could take from Everton to Liverpool it would be James McCarthy. I think he’s just got to add goals. I think Jordan Henderson was maybe at that stage a year ago where you really like what you see but there could be a few more goals or assists to take him up another level. Even though James McCarthy plays a more defensive role, he’s shown he can get forward. He’s a complete midfield player – he works hard, he can tackle, he can pass. I think eventually he’ll be the captain there.”

Carragher, meanwhile, laughs off the criticism he received recently from Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho in the wake of the PSG game when he had expressed disappointment with the behaviour of players who successfully sought to have Zlatan Ibrahimovic sent off after an early challenge. The Portuguese said the former defender had forgotten how he had behaved as a player but Carragher feels that was to miss the point.

“I man-marked referees all the time,” he says with a laugh. “My criticism wasn’t with that. My problem was that I felt Chelsea players got a player sent off who shouldn’t have been sent off. That’s my problem.

“If someone deserves to be sent off, players are going to get angry, if it’s a bad tackle, he should be off. I get that. It’s just when I see a referee influenced in a decision, and I think if I was in that position or if it was one of my team-mates and they hadn’t done anything but we were down to 10 men because of a reaction, that’s where the frustration comes.”

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