🔴 The roles have quickly reversed as Liverpool visit Old Trafford

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Joel Sanderson-Murray

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“It takes a lifetime to build a good reputation, but you can lose it in a minute.”

That could be used to sum up Liverpool’s 2020/21 season.

At the start of the campaign, not many would’ve we’d be going into Manchester United v Liverpool on Sunday with these two clubs in the respective positions they find themselves in.

Back in September, Liverpool were fresh off a first league title win in 30 years and, buoyed by the signing of Thiago Alcântara, aiming to bring home ‘number 20’ which would’ve seen them go level with this weekend’s opponents.

Jürgen Klopp had guided the Reds back to the top of English football, back to “their perch”.

The mood at Old Trafford was considerably different, despite Manchester United finishing in the top four and returning in the Champions League.

United had finished 33 points behind the champions and, despite another season of progress under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, it looked as if the club were miles away from adding to their 20 league titles.

Liverpool might not have lost their reputation in a minute but it has been eroded over the course of the last eight months.

Anfield had become a fortress, it was four years since anyone came away with all three points, but the likes of Burnley and Fulham have won there with relative ease this season.

The Reds’ style of play, built on energetic, exuberant counter-attacking football, has turned pedestrian and predictable.

Liverpool have gone from outright title challenger to a team that will likely be playing in the Europa League next season.

Although the points will reset at the end of the season in May, Klopp’s men may not be considered City’s closest rivals when the new campaign kicks off in August.

Thomas Tuchel will have a say in the conversation after a strong start at Chelsea but Solskjaer and Manchester United have a credible claim too.

While Liverpool look slow, United are energetic and clinical on the pitch — the 6-2 win over Roma in the Europa League semi-final first leg on Thursday was them at their exhilarating best.

There’s a sad irony for Klopp that they travel to Manchester this weekend needing a win to keep up their slim hopes of finishing in the top four alive, all while knowing he could literally be handing the title over to Pep Guardiola.

Manchester United will likely finish as runners-up and are in with a strong chance of picking up a European trophy.

Suddenly, Liverpool are looking up at their biggest rivals after years of building to overthrow them.

That’s the thing about reputations.