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Show belief to conquer the demons; That's way to finally lay United jinx Blood red.

Byline: Tony barrett

TOMHICKS hasn't got many things right since joining forces with George Gillett to buy Liverpool.

But his verdict on the Reds' current inability to inflict so much as a flesh wound on Manchester United is bang on the money.

In the wake of last season's 1-0 defeat to Alex Ferguson's men at An field, Hicks - who had actually bothered to turn up for a Liverpool game on that occasion - insisted that Rafa Benitez's players lacked the necessary belief to beat their most fierce rivals.

Recent statistics certainly bear that out:

It is now more than four years since a Danny Murphy penalty gave Liverpool their last league win over United.

The last Liverpool player to score against United in open play was Harry Kewell - in November 2003

John O'Shea, with an own goal, was responsible for Liverpool's only league goal against United in the last four years.

Liverpool have not beaten United at An field since November 2001 when a brace from Michael Owen and a memorable John Arne Riise pile-driver gave them a 3-1 win.

The fact that Liverpool have endured such a miserable spell during an era when they have won the European Cup, FA Cup, European Super Cup and beaten the likes of Chelse a, Arsenal, Barcelona, AC Milan, Juventus and Inter Milan tells its own sorry story.

As does the fact that in the time since they were last beaten by Liverpool, United have tasted defeat at the hands of Man City (three times), West Ham, Chelsea (five times), Arsenal (twice), Blackburn (three times), Middles brough, Portsmouth and Everton.

There can be no excuses for Liverpool's abject record. During the last four seasons they have undoubtedly had better squads than Blackburn, West Ham, Everton, Portsmouth, Middles brough and Man City, and yet they have never once looked likely to beat United as eight of their Premier League rivals have done.

If the quality is there, then only an inferiority complex or a fear of failure that is so entrenched it makes victory almost impossible to visualise, can explain their appalling run against their rivals from the other end of theM62.

There have been occasions where Liverpool have taken the game to United, only to fail to land the killer blow, and then being hit with a sucker punch as the clock ticks down.

There have also been games where Liverpool have not really turned up and United have been able to coast to victory in a manner which should never be allowed to happen in a fixture like this one.

While even Liverpool's most regular scorers have failed to hit the target in this fixture, even United's lesser lights have been queuing up to get their name on the scores heet with Rio Ferdin and, Mikael Silvestre and O'Shea grabbing vital goals.

It is as if their mentality is that beating Liverpool comes naturally, while Liverpool's is that they just don't know what they have to do to beat United.

Today, Liverpool have another opportunity to put the record straight, but they will only do so if they are fuelled by the kind of belief which Hicks so rightly pointed out has been lacking in recent years.


THAT'SMYBOY: John Arne Riise celebrates his pile-driver the last time Liverpool beat Manchester United at An field, while former team-mate Danny Murphy was responsible for inflicting the last league defeat on United
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Sep 13, 2008
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