Graeme Souness and Bryan Robson played against one another countless times across the divide of the Manchester United and Liverpool rivalry.
And that rivalry is set to play out once more, with United preparing for a trip to Anfield this weekend against their foes.
While the Reds have enjoyed a position of superiority in recent seasons, it’s the Red Devils who come into the game in greater form, having secured their first piece of silverware in six years on Sunday.
The resurgence of Marcus Rashford, the arrival of a bit of metal into the Red Devils team and a new leader in Erik ten Hag mean that United pose a greater threat than they would have last season.
With just two days to go until the latest clash between Liverpool and Manchester United, we bring together the two great warhorses to discuss football, fashion and follicles…
Robson (centre), with a superb head of hair, pens his Manchester United contract on the Old Trafford pitch in 1981
GRAEME SOUNESS: It’s great to see you Bryan and I guess you’ll be jumping up and down! Your team, look like they’ve turned the corner?
BRYAN ROBSON: Yes, they’ve added a bit of metal in into the team. Lisandro Martinez has been a big part of that, as well as Casemiro and Raphael Varane. And those have brought the best out of some of the others.
Luke Shaw’s probably had his best season. Aaron Wan-Bissaka has improved. Marcus Rashford has lost the entourage he had – 12 people going about with him all the time. His head’s back onto football and look at the difference.
SOUNESS: Yes, you can see that. Rashford’s the best striker in the league at the moment.
ROBSON: Even when I go and watch training every now and again, he looks as sharp as a tack – everything’s just really quick and bright about his game. But it’s the whole team who are on it.
Marcus could have cost us in first 20 minutes of the Carabao Cup final because Kieran Trippier kept running off him, which mean Manuel Almiron and Trippier were doubling up on Luke Shaw and Newcastle were getting a lot of crosses in. But then Martinez and Varane defended those crosses so well
SOUNESS: I think Martinez is one of those players who, if you’re playing against him, would annoy the life out of you. He’s a feisty so-and-so isn’t he?
ROBSON: He is. Typical Argentinian!
SOUNESS: ‘Argument in an empty house’ comes to mind! He’d have an argument with himself, looking in the mirror! But team-mates react to that. I thought he would be exposed when he arrived at United, because of his size and relative lack of pace. I have to hold my hands up, there. But he obviously has a real football brain and that ‘lead from the front’ mentality.
You can see it in him. Everyone on the pitch, he wants to have an argument with. I love to see that. Casemiro’s got a bit of it in him, too. They’re the ones who can carry the flag. And then, behind them, you’ve got others suddenly ready to stand up and be counted. I like the way Erik ten Hag has reinstated discipline. These are the kinds of qualities I always remember when we went up against each for Liverpool and United.
ROBSON: It’s how I remember it. I was with West Brom when I first faced your Liverpool team and you were always the ones to beat. We did that at the Hawthorns in 1978. I nutmegged Ray Clemence with a back-heeler and we won 2-0! But then we went to Liverpool and were beaten. I can remember going late on Tommy Smith and for the next 15 minutes or more him absolutely cementing me.. Yes, we certainly got beat that day!
Robson argued that Rashford could have cost Man United the Carabao Cup at Wembley
SOUNESS: It wasn’t that kind of rivalry between the two of us. I don’t ever remember you trying to do me or me trying to do you. There were some players that you can be suspicious of and we could all be naughty, given the right circumstances.
But I don’t ever remember you ever having a real nip at me. You were always a strong and tough competitor but I always found you extremely honest. You were also my worst nightmare, as a holding midfield player.
For me, the ideal player was someone who played in front of me. I didn’t want to be running back towards my own goal all the time. But you were so strong going forward, with great energy, wanting to get on the end of things.
As a midfielder, you’re always are trying to impose yourself on your opponent, too. But I knew that I couldn’t sicken you, either! I’ve said to you before, I think we’d have been a formidable partnership in midfield.
ROBSON: That might have happened if Liverpool had signed me in instead of United! I heard they were in for me when I left West Brom, in 1981. Liverpool said that they’d go to £1.2million, but that was there was their lot – then United came in with £1.5million, West Brom accepted it and I was back working with Ron Atkinson again. I’d have loved playing alongside you but you’d have had to come to United!
SOUNESS: Ron did say to me once when I was at Liverpool: ‘Would you ever come to United?’ It was a throw-away remark – an alcohol fuelled question, I think! – and Liverpool would never have sold me there. I think once you’ve been at Liverpool or United, it would be nigh on impossible to make that move. So we just competed against each other instead.
ROBSON: That’s one way of describing you challenge on me in the 1983 Charity Shield! I would probably have scored if you hadn’t taken me down! The ‘professional foul’ they called it back then. There’s been a bit of talk about that over the years because I asked the ref not to send you off. That wasn’t what I wanted to see that day. We were winning 2-0, there were a few minutes to go and you and I had enjoyed a good contest.