Former Man United star Sharpe says current boss van Gaal must take risks
Former winger keen to show what United were like, says current side need more adventurous approach
In his heyday, Lee Sharpe was a flying winger for the Manchester United side that conquered all before them in the early to mid-1990s.
On Saturday, the 44-year-old will show glimpses of that superb form when he lines up for United's Masters team as they clash with their Liverpool counterparts in The Castlewood Group Battle Of The Reds 2015 at the National Stadium.
Sharpe (left), who will be reunited with former teammates like Paul Parker and Andrei Kanchelskis, had a memorable eight-year spell at Old Trafford under Alex Ferguson, winning three Premier League titles and two FA Cups, among other silverware.
Apart from substance, he also knows a thing or two about style and is often recognised as United's first "pop star footballer", even before Ryan Giggs and David Beckham came into the picture.
While Sharpe and his former colleagues will be looking to turn back the years and thrill the fans, the same cannot be said of the current United side, who have been criticised for failing to excite in the manner their fans are so used to.
Sharpe is sympathetic of the situation United manager Louis van Gaal finds himself in, although he would like to see a more adventurous approach similar to days of old.
"At the end of the day, it's the manager's job on the line so I think he has to play it in the way he feels best," he told the New Paper in a one-on-one interview yesterday.
"Every United fan has been brought up on entertaining football, but many teams that have decided to play football ended up getting relegated.
"It's a fine balancing act and it's a difficult one to call because I'm certain they'll finish inside the top four this season, and if they win the league playing this way then not many people can argue with that.
"But, for me, United have always had a lot of goal attempts, and crosses into the box, and keeping teams camped inside their own penalty box.
"Sir Alex used to say you have to take risks to win football matches, and I would just like to see him (van Gaal) take a few more risks."
Another player under fire has been captain Wayne Rooney, with many questioning if he is still the same player he once was.
Although Sharpe believes van Gaal's tactics are not doing the United skipper any favours, he feels a change in position could just be what is needed to reignite Rooney's fortunes.
The ex-England international said: "Because United's game is so slow, Wayne Rooney is a lot easier to mark.
"When it's quicker, he can find space and find others with his passing and create more, but the way the manager is playing isn't helping.
"Also, I don't know what it is but it seems like the basics are just not going right for him at the moment.
"His first touch, simple 10-metre passes, he's giving the ball away cheaply and he never used to.
"Maybe it's time for a change and perhaps play him in central midfield.
"But you never lose talent and he's still got it. It's about whether the manager can get it out of him."
Old boys from Liverpool and Man United say their rivalry is special
READY TO RUMBLE: (From far left) Former Manchester United defender Paul Parker, CEO of Masters Football Asia Steve Black, former United winger Andrei Kanchelskis, ex-Liverpool striker Ian Rush, CEO of Castlewood Group Chris Comer and ex-Liverpool goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek with the jerseys the teams will be wearing on Saturday.
When talk of a "39th game" in the English Premier League first came up - a regular-season round with points on the line but played on foreign soil - it generated tremendous chatter both in England and much of the rest of the world.
With the global market such a massive part of its audience, the Premier League was well aware that such a concept could prove a huge success and generate even bigger profits.
With more detractors than supporters, the proposal has been shelved, and the prospect of catching Louis van Gaal's Manchester United taking on Juergen Klopp's Liverpool at the National Stadium in Kallang will almost certainly never happen.
But the fans of the two most famous teams can enjoy the next best thing on Saturday at The Castlewood Group Battle Of The Reds 2015, when the Liverpool and Manchester United Masters teams lock horns at the 55,000-capacity arena at the Singapore Sports Hub.
Headlining the team from Anfield is captain Ian Rush, while famous names like Robbie Fowler, Steve McManaman and Luis Garcia will also be on show. For United, the likes of Andrei Kanchelskis, Lee Sharpe and Louis Saha will all be lacing up their boots once again alongside skipper Paul Parker.
With a star parade on display, Rush is expecting the fans to be given their money's worth, even if the players are a greyer vintage.
"I'm really looking forward to it," said the legendary former Welsh striker.
"Every time against Manchester United is always exciting, even more so in these parts of the world when you see the kind of support we get.
"We've got some great players here and I'm expecting goals, we're here to entertain the supporters and we want to win the game."
There was plenty of good spirit at the introductory press conference at the Singapore Marriott Tang Plaza Hotel yesterday, with smiles and handshakes all around as the players caught up with one another.
But, there was still a clear divide.
According to former England right back Parker, some things - like the United-Liverpool rivalry - never change.
"Now that we're all retired, there's a lot of us working together and there's definitely a lot of socialising," he explained.
"But one thing we know is that, when the game kicks off, it's going to be about egos.
"You don't want to be making a mistake, you don't want to be losing to your arch-rivals. Even at this level, you'll give everything to try and win, be it that extra bit of air in your lungs or that extra strength in your legs. You go just that bit further to win the game."
In goal for Liverpool will be ex-Poland international Jerzy Dudek, who was part of the famous Reds side that came from three goals down and beat AC Milan on penalties in the Champions League final in 2005.
While Saturday's game is unlikely to produce similar scenes from the Miracle of Istanbul, the 42-year-old believes there will still be plenty of passion in the stands.
Dudek said: "I played in this event for the first team two years ago and I was surprised to see so many people.
"Even at the airport or in the hotel, there were so many supporters and, whenever we play against Man United, everyone is interested.
"It will be nice to play in a full stadium and we'll be looking to provide some good entertainment."
- GABRIEL TAN
Every time against Manchester United is always exciting, even more so in these parts of the world when you see the kind of support we get.
- ,Liverpool legend Ian Rush on the Castlewood Group Battle Of The Reds match