In this age of shameless clickbait and presidential five-second attention spans, hyperbole and exaggeration are a potent currency. Sports media is no exception to this mentality, and thus, it is easy for media outlets hellbent on increasing traffic at any cost to justify referring to an obscure youngster as a starlet, or headlining Rickie Lambert as a 224-Goal Striker when typing up their titles.
In some cases, the superlatives are accurate, however, and when Saturday’s upcoming contest between Liverpool and Manchester United is described as the most important fixture of the season, it is not entirely unreasonable, at least for the clubs involved. For the hosts, it is a crucial opportunity to return to form following their run of one win in seven games, and for the high-flying visitors, the occasion marks their first proper challenge against a fellow top side this season.
Athletic objectives notwithstanding, there are bragging rights aplenty at stake when two of the world’s most populous fan bases clash. Reds midfielder Emre Can sympathises.
“It’s for Liverpool the city, the fans and for us,” the 23-year old told the official site.
“It will be a very, very tough game because Manchester United have done very well this season so far. But we know we are strong too and we are really looking forward to the game.
“It’s always special to play at Anfield and now against Manchester United after a few weeks of not playing at Anfield. We are really excited and looking forward to the game and to play at Anfield again.”
So, while it’s good to know that Can grasps the importance the match holds for the supporters and city of Liverpool, one wonders if the German midfielder can reveal any particular tactical manoeuvres that would aid his side’s cause.
“We have to be hard in the tackles, we have to try to dominate the game and score the goals when we create chances,” he continued. “We will see what happens.”
Oh. Well. Tackle hard, score goals, and see what happens. That’s very Glory of ‘66 of you, Emre. I’m sure ‘Arry would approve. Hopefully, there is more nuance to Jürgen Klopp’s chosen strategy on Saturday, if there is to be any chance of overcoming Jose Mourinho’s men.