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Mind Game Mastery Vol. 1: Liverpool vs. Manchester United

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All eyes will be on referee Anthony Taylor for Liverpool’s upcoming clash and José Mourinho would like Anthony Taylor to remember that.

Shrewsbury Town v Chelsea - Capital One Cup Fourth Round Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

Every match between Liverpool Football Club and Manchester United attracts an outsized share of attention. Monday’s iteration of this fixture will be no different, with no small amount of electronic ink spilled over the two clubs’ newish and larger-than-life managers. To add to the spice levels of the meeting, the appointed referee, Anthony Taylor, is based in Altrincham, a mere Iago Aspas corner kick away from Old Trafford. It’s something that people have noticed.

The FA has its own admittedly less-than-perfect methodology for minimizing any awkwardness around these things, and while there’s every reason to think he will put in a professional performance, Taylor’s appointment for this fixture still has the potential to be a lose-lose situation for the referee. Which is where Manchester United manager Mourinho enters the picture.

No stranger to controversies surrounding referees, Mourinho had some choice words to say about the selection. It’s very possible those observations were intended as an absolutely objective assessment by a participating manager of the difficulties Taylor may face during the fixture. It’s also possible that those observations were intended to serve as a reminder to Taylor not to overcompensate, and that if a tough call or two were to go United’s way, everyone will understand.

“I think Mr Taylor is a very good referee but I think somebody with intention is putting such a pressure on him that I feel it will be difficult for him to have a very good performance.

I have my view but I understood and I learned a lesson by being punished so many times for some words so I don’t want to say anything (more) about it.”

Astute observers will note that the latter statement was made right after Mourinho decided to say something about “it.” Whatever happens tomorrow, you could probably make a pretty good bet that Taylor may merit a sentence or two in the post-match conferences. Mourinho is at least correct that it’s not an enviable position in which to be, and supporters of both clubs should hope Taylor’s performance will be an afterthought to the contest.

UPDATE: