Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has told fans Sunday’s Premier League match against fierce rivals Liverpool at Old Trafford will “not be a visit to the theatre”, and instead invited them to “come and play with us”.
Liverpool have lost just twice all season, their last defeat a 4-3 loss at Bournemouth on 4 December.
Jurgen Klopp’s men are second in the Premier League, five points ahead of United in sixth and the same distance behind leaders Chelsea.
United ground out a 2-0 win against Hull City in Tuesday’s League Cup semifinal first leg and it took an 87th-minute header by substitute Marouane Fellaini to make the game safe.
United have now won nine games in succession, but with Liverpool five points above them in second place in the Premier League table, Mourinho wants everyone to be at their very best on Sunday.
“I was a bit disappointed with the first half,” he said. “They were well organised defensively. It wasn’t easy for us, but we were a bit sloppy.
“We complicated things; always one more touch, delaying the decision, giving them time to regroup. It was not our best first half.
“I think in the first half the players have to do better, I have to do better, the fans they also can do better. In the second half we all improved a little bit, just a little bit.
“I think now about Sunday. And Sunday I need to do better, the players they need to do better and the stadium they need to do better.”
United captain Wayne Rooney went into the game against Hull needing one goal to set a new club scoring record, having equalled Bobby Charlton’s tally of 249 in Saturday’s 4-0 FA Cup win over Reading.
His moment appeared to have arrived six minutes into the second half when he was picked out by Paul Pogba’s glorious pass, but he rattled his shot wide of the left-hand upright.
Juan Mata broke the deadlock five minutes later, ghosting in to volley home from close range after Henrikh Mkhitaryan had headed Antonio Valencia’s cross from the right back across goal.
Pogba left the post quivering with a free-kick before Fellaini netted a potentially pivotal goal with a header from Matteo Darmian’s in-swinging cross.