In a rivalry that already produces enough animosity from the stands, Anthony Taylor’s appointment as referee for Monday’s meeting of Liverpool and Manchester United has been met with a great deal of suspicion from the Merseyside locals.
It’s because the official is based in Manchester, something United boss Jose Mourinho recognises will be difficult for Taylor to overcome, despite being a supporter of non-league Altrincham.
The Portuguese gaffer believes “somebody with intention is putting such a pressure” on Taylor, who’s brandished 23 yellow cards but no red cards so far this term, and who worked as the fourth official when the foes met in January.
Given the negative reaction from Liverpool supporters, and the public questioning from ex-Professional Game Match Officials Ltd head Keith Hackett, Mourinho isn’t expecting much from the man in the middle.
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“I feel that it will be difficult for him to have a very good performance,” the abrasive gaffer added of Taylor.
There was similar controversy when Kevin Friend was chosen to preside over Tottenham Hotspur’s match at Stoke City last season, with the former embroiled in a tight battle for Premier League honours with Leicester City – Friend’s hometown club. He was eventually switched for Preston-born Neil Swarbrick.
No such measure has been made this time around.
Liverpool has lost each of its last four league clashes with United, but enters Monday as the favourite after going almost two months – seven matches – without defeat.