Jamie Carragher has overlooked Cristiano Ronaldo in a Manchester United and Liverpool combined XI, reaffirming his belief that the Portugal forward would not be part of a Jurgen Klopp team.
Speaking on Monday Night Football ahead of this weekend’s clash between the two sides at Old Trafford, Carragher and Gary Neville debated the best 11 players on current form, and Ronaldo was not one of eight names unanimously agreed upon.
The 36-year-old has failed to score in his last three games but will look to return to form in style when he faces Liverpool for the 13th time in his career on Sunday, live on Sky Sports.
Carragher’s combined XI
When asked if Ronaldo would get in the Liverpool team, Carragher said: “No. I don’t think Jurgen Klopp would pick him if he was picking what we’re picking now.
“That’s the headline for the weekend, isn’t it! He’s going to get the winner now.”
Instead of selecting Ronaldo, Carragher opted for Mason Greenwood to lead the line, referencing his fine start to the season that was capped by his superb strike against Leicester last Saturday in United’s 4-2 defeat at the King Power Stadium.
“I’m a massive Greenwood fan, I think he’s a superstar, I really do,” Carragher continued.
“How can you not put Ronaldo in, in terms of what he’s done, legendary figure? I’m talking about actually right now, today, I’d have to have Greenwood.
“[Roberto] Firmino got a hat-trick for Liverpool at the weekend and has done really well but going back last season, and this season Greenwood is a superstar and I had to find a place for him in there.”
Joel Matip has played the full 90 minutes in all but one of Liverpool’s eight Premier League fixtures this term, and Carragher believes he gets into the combined XI ahead of Harry Maguire.
“Possibly in the last 12 months or even further you could have Maguire in there [next to Virgil van Dijk],” he added.
“I’m a huge Maguire fan, he’s a really good player, it’s got nothing to do with his performance at the weekend [at Leicester] – but I actually think Matip has possibly been better than Virgil van Dijk this season.
“He’s a player that goes under the radar because he’s not a huge name, he came in on a free transfer, he’s been there a long time under Jurgen Klopp, he’s had injury problems.
“But every time he plays he’s top class, he really is and that partnership with Virgil van Dijk is really good at the minute, it is.
“The performances he’s given, certainly in the last 18 months, he was the centre-back who played in the Champions League final for Liverpool.
“He’s played in so many big games, this season he’s almost been an ever-present, he’s been fantastic.”
Neville’s combined XI
Neville found a way of shoehorning Liverpool’s front three into his side behind Ronaldo as the spearhead to an attacking selection.
“It wasn’t easy but just the idea he’s one of the greatest goalscorers of all time, and with Salah and Mane I thought he should be up front,” he said.
“You would have him up front. In that team, with Fabinho and [Jordan] Henderson behind, with Roberto Firmino behind and those two out wide he would be absolutely devastating.”
The inclusion of Firmino in a No 10 role instead of Bruno Fernandes was somewhat surprising, but Neville argued: “That was the most difficult one to decide on but I refuse to disrespect Firmino for what he’s done over the past four or five years.
“That front three have been out of this world and he always seems to be the one that gets pushed away. The work both in possession and out of possession he does on behalf of the team is unbelievable.
“He gets respected, of course he does, but I don’t feel he gets the full respect he deserves in the way that he dovetails with midfield, with the two wide players and how he fills back in big games and drops onto sitting midfielders for opposition.
“He does the donkey work when the team needs it, so for me he’s the type of player that needs to be in the team if you’ve got Ronaldo up front as he’s the workhorse in behind who would connect the midfield to the front really well.”
Neville refused to select an all-Liverpool defence, however, believing Maguire ought to be included having previously claimed that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wrongly rushed him back in the defeat against Leicester as a sign of just how important he is to the side.
“Jamie has seen Matip more than I have over the last 12 to 18 months, but I think he would always look half good alongside Van Dijk – anyone would – as he’s absolutely unbelievable
“Maguire had a bad game against Leicester but we’ve all been there and I feel he deserves to be Van Dijk’s partner out of the defenders we’ve seen based on the last two or three years.
“We’ve not seen enough of Raphael Varane yet to put him into the team.”