Jose Mourinho expressed his excitement at the prospect of leading Manchester United into the Anfield cauldron for the first time on Monday night.
The 53-year-old has won on his last two visits to Anfield, most recently with a 2-1 win back in November 2014 as manager of Chelsea.
His Man United side head into the game three points behind Jurgen Klopp’s men, and a win could see them rise to third spot.
Looking ahead to Monday’s encounter, the Special One was notably exuberant ahead of the clash at Anfield.
“I have to feel it, to play and then to make my conclusions,” he said.
“I am in England for a long time; I’ve never played this match, but I’ve played against Liverpool and United and understand the dimension of this game. Now I understand the dimension of two historical rivals.
“I go there to play my game, do my work and enjoy my work. I think the fans should also go to enjoy, support their team and create a bad atmosphere for the opposition, but in the limits of the safety and the respect. I think that is going to happen.
“I always like to play at Anfield. I’ve won big matches and lost big matches there, so I cannot say I like to go there as I am always successful as this is not true. I like the atmosphere and the characteristics of the matches. It is a big match that can be comparable to Inter v Milan and Real v Barcelona, maybe Porto v Benfica – this I like.”
Cast your minds back to April 27th 2014. Liverpool have an opportunity to go six points clear with two games to go at the top of the table. Their opponents: Mourinho’s Chelsea. Plagued by injury and with one eye on their Champions League semi-final with Atletico in midweek, they are firm underdogs.
Liverpool, on the other hand, are flying. They are in irresistible form, unbeaten for eleven games, playing with an almost unprecedented level of tenacity and fervour. This was their day, their time to put one hand on a trophy that has eluded them for a quarter of a century.
Mourinho, however, had other ideas. More specifically, he had a game plan – one more akin to that of a Guerrilla fighter. There he was, unshaven, his hair longer than normal, with a hoody, wearing a relaxed, almost indifferent expression. The contrast with the suited, polished and wholly pensive Brendan Rodgers was manifest, and suddenly it all made sense. Mourinho was approaching this game in a deliberately disinterested way, inviting Liverpool to attack over and over again, as if to say: “Go on, you’re bound to score anyway. This is your day, after all.”
But they didn’t score. And Chelsea, despite laying out a second string side and doing nothing except from defending solidly for 90 minutes, had somehow won 2-0. Mourinho’s plan worked, and the scars of that day will still run deep as he arrives at Anfield on Monday, this time as United manager.