Reds have belief, Devils have a bus

HE wouldn't, would he? Park the bus at Old Trafford? He would, you know. He's done it before.

He also parked it at Anfield in October and he even parked it at Crystal Palace on Monday. For the first half, anyway. In another life, Jose Mourinho may have been boss of the Greyhound Bus Company.

In the second half at Palace, he released the handbrake and got a "lucky" win. That's what he called it after going 2-0 down. It's given United fans a sliver of hope. They needed it.

Prior to that, all the momentum was with Liverpool. Besides banging in goals for fun, they boast the EPL's most exciting player, have barely missed their £142m playmaker and have slotted in their £75m defender as if to the manor born.

Despite the long waits for deals to be finalised, it looks as if they know what they are doing. They have patience and a plan whereas United's approach looks scattergun: simply buy a big name and hope he fits in.

Two of their biggest have not yet done so, another has scored 20 goals yet has still to convince the majority of fans. Yep, at times Romelu Lukaku can resemble a carthorse while Alexis Sanchez looked a better player at Arsenal.

As for the most expensive, a cameo would be nice but maybe too long for Paul Pogba's attention span. This is what Gary Neville made of him this week: "It's like everything he does is all for a YouTube or Instagram video."

Merciless, but spot-on. Nearing the end of his second season, the one-time world's most expensive footballer still hasn't delivered anywhere near what was expected of him. It's like expecting a container and only getting tetra packs.

It's nowhere near what free transfer signing James Milner is doing for Liverpool. Unlike Pogba, Milner doesn't have a tantrum when asked to play in a different position, even made a fist of left-back and takes a mean penalty. He's also joint-leader for Champions League assists.

Among modern footballers, it is hard to think of a greater contrast between those two; just as it's hard to think of a greater contrast between the two sides. Yet United have their noses in front in the race for the runner-up spot.

This is partly down to Liverpool's early season generosity when holding a lead which looks to have been remedied. After what seemed an eternity, Jurgen Klopp has addressed weaknesses at the back by bringing in Virgil van Dijk and finally giving up on Simon Mignolet.

Van Dijk looks the business, Loris Karius less so, but he is beginning to look more like the keeper Klopp thought he could be in the first place. He's not yet fit to carry David de Gea's gloves, but the Spaniard is one of few United names you'd pick in a composite team.

Once again we see patience as a virtue – Fergie with De Gea and Klopp with Karius although he did undermine the confidence of both his keepers until recently.

Patience is not something that Mourinho has in abundance – just look at all the players he has "judged" in his 10 minute test and been forced to watch flourish elsewhere.

Most notable, of course, is the magnificent Mo Salah who will be licking his lips at the prospect of facing one of United's makeshift full-backs. Neither Antonio Valencia nor Ashley Young is a natural and they've got away with it so far. But they do not face a pair like Salah and Sadio Mane every week.

Back in the autumn, with Mane unavailable, United managed to prevent Salah from scoring. But the pair work better together with Roberto Firminho as the perfect foil. Mourinho will make snuffing out Liverpool's Fab Three his priority.

Defence is his forte and we can guarantee he will have a strategy. Unlike Liverpool though, he has not forged a proper attacking force despite almost two years in the job and well over £300m spent. Once again, we can see why Liverpool have the edge.

Where Klopp has managed to cover for the absence of Philippe Coutinho by getting a bit more out of other players, Mourinho has scarcely improved anyone apart from Jesse Lingard.

But Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is finally realising the potential Arsenal couldn't tap, Milner is becoming more creative and even Jordan Henderson has stepped up a gear. Emre Can is still putting in shifts although he's in the exit lounge.

Klopp has been unfortunate in that the player he transformed, Adam Lallana, has had a season blighted by injury and seems to have regressed. But overall, Liverpool are a far more cohesive and dangerous unit than Mourinho's United – and both managers and both sets of fans know it.

Where Kopites are purring, Devils are moaning: they know there's something not quite right.

Both clubs have been in a state of mourning for the best part of five years: but where United are still not over Fergie's departure, Liverpool appear to have finally stopped lamenting the lost title of 2013/14. They have a new hero to replace Luis Suarez and a manager they much prefer to Brendan Rogers.

Mourinho is grudgingly accepted as an upgrade on David Moyes and Louis van Gaal, but is nowhere near to being loved. Nor does he appear to believe in his own team whereas Klopp finally does.

Ditto the fans – Liverpool's feel they are going places with an exciting team no one in Europe wants to meet, United's definitely not. Demands to "attack, attack, attack" have fallen on deaf ears but Mourinho does get results – somehow. Anyhow. And even his critics will take anyhow on Saturday. Even by bus.

Bob's latest book, Living the Dream, is available at MPH, Borders, Popular, Kinokuniya and Gerakbudaya book stores. Bob will be signing copies of the book at the "Be Bodog's Best Football Pundit" contest at the Backyard Pub & Grill, 28, Jalan Sri Hartamas 8, Taman Sri Hartamas on Saturday, March 10 before the Man Utd vs Liverpool game.