Bruno Fernandes has been at Manchester United for less than a year but has already been indoctrinated into beating Liverpool at all costs.
Sunday will be the first time Fernandes has faced Liverpool in a United shirt, when the two sides meet at Anfield in a top-of-the-table clash.
Against that backdrop, Fernandes knows how vital it is for United to stay ahead of Liverpool and not allow them to draw level with them on 20 title wins.
“Of course I know, everyone knows,” said Fernandes. “You don’t want your rivals at the same level as you or with the same amount of trophies as you.
“So it’s clear for everyone here at the club and in the dressing-room – everyone knows what it means for the supporters.
“Of course, for them, the next day, going to talk to their friends who may be Liverpool fans, it’ll be much better if you’ve been the winner than the loser.
“And it would be a lot more fun with 21 titles and Liverpool still on 19, of course.”
Fernandes has been a revelation since joining United for £47million from Sporting Lisbon and has been the catalyst for their revival under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
In 31 Premier League games, the 26-year-old has been directly involved in 33 goals – scoring 19 and assisting 14.
Inspired by Fernandes, an 11-game unbeaten league run has seen United climb the table and overtake Jurgen Klopp’s champions into top spot.
Liverpool last lost at home in the Premier League in April 2017, a run of 67 games, but Fernandes said resurgent United have what it takes to end that sequence.
“We know Liverpool are a really good team and haven’t lost a home league game for so many years,” said Fernandes.
“But we’ll go there to do our best and try to win the game, as we always do.
“After, whether it can be a problem for them, I don’t know. Liverpool will be ready to lose one game at home, I think.
“But I don’t think one defeat would make Liverpool worse than before.
“I think Liverpool, being champions, know what they have to do. They know what it is to have pressure on them.
“But we have to focus on what we have to do because we have a lot of pressure.
“For us to grow up [as a team], we have to go into these games to try to win it.”
Sir Alex Ferguson said his greatest achievement was “knocking Liverpool off their f****** perch”, with Fernandes aiming to do the same this season.
But if United are to land their first title since 2013, Fernandes said they must have the right mindset going into every game – not just glamour fixtures like tomorrow.
“Every game has to mean the same,” said Fernandes.
“We have to go into every game with the same mentality as we have for Liverpool.
“It can’t be different playing against Burnley to Liverpool. The main point for us is to keep going and make our best in every game.
“For us it’s about winning game by game, because being first in January or beating Liverpool in January and going six points ahead doesn’t mean you will be champions.
“You have to have the mentality to keep going and doing well – and to keep doing well you need to win the next game and the next one and the next one.”
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