Ask any Liverpool or Manchester United player and they’ll tell you the ‘derby’ between the two is on another planet.
Different to any other game they play in English football, different in intensity, different in rivalry, different in the sheer scale, importance and grandeur of it all.
And I say that, knowing both clubs play a proper derby in their own cities.
Why? Well, it’s pretty obvious.
They are basically the big two, not only in England, but across the world.
And, between them, they have dominated the domestic scene for most of the past 50 years.
Every player who goes into this game carries that on their shoulders.
I have so many memories of playing United – we weren’t on their level in my Liverpool time, but we matched them in this fixture.
The overriding memory, though, is more a feeling than a single moment…the sheer pace and breathlessness.
My first game against them, I remember how mad it was, 100mph, players flying in like ninjas, brutal.
As a kid, coming from youth and ressie football, it was a different world.
I didn’t do too badly, though – enough to make Alex Ferguson even want to sign me, apparently.
There was that bloody Eric Cantona comeback game for a start, when I scored twice goals – and I think Gary Neville remembers them, too – but no one remembers because he got a dodgy pen at the end.
Later that season, I scored two more at Anfield and we gave them a proper hiding.
The first was a free-kick (I like to think I showed David Beckham how to do it), and for the second I cut inside him and Neville again, after Steve McManaman ran half the length of the pitch.
Fergie had tried to get me as a trainee, but I stayed in Liverpool for my youth development and I heard after that season he was desperate to sign me, though obviously there was no chance of that happening!
They were tough games. I’m always asked about who were the hardest defenders I played against in my career and it’s funny how the United centre-halves always come up.
Steve Bruce was as tough as they come and wouldn’t just run through a brick wall – he’d demolish it.
Gary Pallister, too, hard and skilful, so playing and scoring against them, with both wanting to kill you, was an achievement.
They always had tough defenders, Jaap Stam, Ronnie Johnsen, Rio Ferdinand. all with pace and skill, and all hyped up into destroy mode.
Which is a way of saying, nothing will change this weekend – and I’m pretty sure both Jurgen Klopp and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be really glad about that.
Liverpool need it passionate, they need something to get them going. They’re a team that thrive on intensity, their game plan is based on it.
Their run since November has been nowhere near good enough and Klopp is the first to admit that.
But his team have to be up for this and it can be huge for their season.
They can’t afford to lose it, they would be six points behind United and potentially five behind City if they win their games in hand, and they don’t need that sort of handicap (though it would be ludicrous in this weird season to write them off if they lose).
That’s the pessimistic view, but take the positive one and things look different.
Huge game against a team they know they have the beating of at Anfield. Hell, they even got Jose Mourinho the sack there.
Win that and they go back on top…after their worst patch of form in almost three years.
Klopp will be emphasising that, telling them it’s not a bad situation… so long as they show their pedigree.
Solskjaer will say to his side not losing is a real result.
Which tells me that, contrary to popular mythology, it won’t be a classic, as most United-Liverpool games aren’t.
And Solskjaer will not change his game plan of the last few years against Liverpool.
They will defend deep and I don’t blame Solskjaer for that.
United have been outclassed a few times at Anfield and he won’t want to give Liverpool any momentum.
A draw would be a good result and even a poor West Brom showed if you frustrate my old club, you can get a result.
So don’t expect a game like the 3-3 when we were three down, or a classic.
But do expect Liverpool to find something – because they must show they are champions.