‘Manchester United has too many piano players, not enough piano carriers’

It is a football fest this weekend that spills over to early Monday morning.

In Spain, there is El Clasico, with Barcelona hosting Real Madrid on Sunday (10.15pm). In Serie A, it is Inter Milan against Juventus on Monday (2.45am), while at the same time, in Ligue 1, Marseille welcomes Paris Saint-Germain.

Those matches, however, cannot rival the attention of Manchester United versus Liverpool on Sunday (11.30pm).

Experienced coach Steve Darby said he expects a tight encounter but pointed out the difference between the teams is that United do not have enough players who do the ‘dirty work’.

“A coach once told me that you need three piano players and eight piano carriers.

“I understood what he meant later – you need people who work their socks off, and others who can do a bit of magic, and I think that is what Liverpool have at the moment,” Darby said on Rembat!, a football talk show on Football Tribe.

“Liverpool have a world-class goalkeeper (Alisson Becker). (Virgil) van Dijk is out of this world, a fantastic back four, and they have an unbelievable front three (Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane). Salah, at the moment, is possibly the best in the world.

“They are missing a magician in midfield, but the rest of the lads carry the piano by doing all the dirty work that allows the piano players to shine.”

He said it is the opposite with Manchester United, as it has too many “piano players”.

“Manchester United has some fantastic players but not enough piano carriers,” said the former Johor, Perak and Kelantan coach.

“United need more players who roll their sleeves up and do the dirty work. Only then, can United start challenging for trophies.”

Among the “piano players” in United’s team is Cristiano Ronaldo as, without his goals, the Manchester club would be bottom of their Champions League group. He has also netted three times in the Premier League to show that despite being 36, he can still carry the team.

Ronaldo and PSG’s Lionel Messi are considered the greatest players of their generation. But Salah’s sensational goals against Manchester City and Watford are earning rave reviews around the footballing world.

The Egyptian is also breaking records for fun. His brace against Atletico Madrid made him the only Liverpool player to score in nine consecutive games. It also took his tally to 31 Champions League goals, another club record.

He reached 100 top-flight goals for the Reds in only 151 matches, the quickest to hit that milestone. In August, he became the first player in Premier League history to score on the opening day for five consecutive seasons.

The Egyptian is also tied with Didier Drogba for most goals (104) by an African player in the Premier League, and could break that record on Sunday.

If he does score the winner, there would be even more pressure on United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

The fans are planning a protest against Solskjaer and club owners – the Glazer family – over a lack of progress.

There was a similar demonstration five months ago when Liverpool was in town last season. Then, the Red Devils fans broke into Old Trafford and stormed the pitch.

The match was postponed, and Liverpool won the rescheduled game 4-2.

The form book goes out the window whenever these two teams meet, so expect fireworks on Sunday.

FIXTURES (Malaysian time)

SATURDAY

Arsenal vs Aston Villa (3am)
Chelsea vs Norwich City (7.30pm)
Crystal Palace vs Newcastle (10pm)
Leeds vs Wolves (10pm)
Everton vs Watford (10pm)
Southampton vs Burnley (10pm)

SUNDAY

Brighton vs Manchester City (12.30am)
West Ham vs Tottenham (9pm)
Brentford vs Leicester (9pm)
Manchester United vs Liverpool (11.30pm)