Man City or Liverpool? SIC chief reveals pick for season’s Premier League title winner

Azhan Shafriman Hanif has faced the media countless times since becoming chief executive officer of Sepang International Circuit in 2020.

But he had to take a moment when asked whom he would rather see win this season’s English Premier League title.

The diehard Manchester United supporter has two choices – noisy neighbour Manchester City or long-standing rival, Liverpool.

And with his beloved club facing the Reds tomorrow morning (3am), Azhan Shafriman knows the Red Devils can ruin Liverpool’s chances.

“There is just one point between Manchester City and Liverpool. After the midweek matches, there will be only six to play,” said Azhan Shafriman, who has supported Manchester United since the early 1990s.

“It will go down to the final day, and City might just shade it.”

Asked his prediction for tomorrow’s match, Azhan Shafriman said the pressure is on Liverpool as it cannot afford any slip-ups.

“United is not as strong as it once was and has struggled this season, but I think it will be a close match,” said the former Petronas brand department’s head of strategic alliance.

“Sadly, I feel Liverpool may win by a goal as it is chasing the title. The best we can hope for is a draw.”

Azhan Shafriman is also not overly optimistic about United’s chances of qualifying for next season’s Champions League.

The club moved up to fifth at the weekend with 54 points, thanks to a Cristiano Ronaldo hattrick against Norwich to lie three points behind Tottenham Hotspur.

Arsenal, which suffered a third consecutive defeat in the league, also has 54 points, but with a game in hand. West Ham has 52 points from 33 games.

Azhan Shafriman says his favourite team, Manchester United, does not seem to have the stomach for a fight this season.

“Firstly, I feel Ronaldo should stay for another season, as he is a good addition. The fans must realise we cannot expect him to do everything himself. The club needs to use him wisely,” he said.

“I feel United has the ingredients to trouble any club, even City and Liverpool, but what is missing is the heart, will, and passion. That is something City, Liverpool, and to a certain extent, Chelsea and Tottenham, possess.

“The United I grew up with, chased every ball. The players would hound opponents into making mistakes, and there was no such thing as a lost cause.”

He said Manchester United used to score many late goals – during Sir Alex Ferguson’s era as manager – but the players no longer fight to get the ball once they lose it.

One player who has come under scrutiny is team captain Harry Maguire.

When asked to complete this sentence: Harry Maguire is … Azhan Shafriman said: “Harry Maguire is the best when he is in the ‘zone’. He is a good player but needs to concentrate more and be confident when leading the team.”

“We saw his qualities at Euro 2020. He was in the Team of the Tournament. It is up to the United coach to get the best out of him.”

FIXTURES (Malaysian time)
Liverpool vs Manchester United (3am)

Everton vs Leicester (2.45am)
Chelsea vs Arsenal (2.45am)
Newcastle vs Crystal Palace (2.45am)
Manchester City vs Brighton (3am)

Burnley v Southampton (2.45am)

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