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Man United fans as invested in Liverpool losing UCL final as winning FA Cup

Phil Jones told ESPN that a club like Manchester United should be winning the league plus another trophy to make the season a success.

The Premier League season is over but three English teams have cup finals to play in. Manchester United and Chelsea will compete for the FA Cup before Liverpool take on Real Madrid in the Champions League final.

There's no argument over which is the more sought after trophy, although if United can finish second and win silverware, they can be content with the progress they've made, even if they have fallen well short of the bar set by rivals Manchester City.

Having waited years to win the FA Cup again, United finally lifted the trophy in 2016 with Louis van Gaal, and could claim three trophies in the past two years with a victory over Antonio Conte's men on Saturday.

Yet as desperate as United fans will be to claim further silverware, they will have one eye cautiously on Liverpool, praying that Cristiano Ronaldo can deny them that sixth European Cup.

It's painful enough seeing their supporters hold up five digits to rub in their historic success in Europe, but if they take it to two hands it's going to be unbearable.

For all of United's dominance under Sir Alex Ferguson, they won just two Champions League titles in that time, while Liverpool managed another one in that same span. All three wins came in dramatic circumstances, with United winning one in injury time in 1999 and the other on penalties in 2008, while Liverpool came back from 3-0 down to win a penalty shootout in 2005.

Those nights will rank among the best nights of their lives for supporters of the winning team, and among the worst of their footballing memories for their rivals. Liverpool fans will have been popping the champagne when three minutes were shown on the board that evening in the Nou Camp with Ferguson's team 1-0 down, while United supporters were killing themselves laughing when AC Milan banged in three goals by half-time in Istanbul.

When Manchester United first overtook Liverpool's league title record haul in 2011, it was hugely satisfying, as it had once felt like an impossible feat. Back when Ferguson took charge, the thought was United may well have gone on to claim 19 league titles, but the presumption was Liverpool would be on at least 30 by the time they did. Nobody could have predicted they would go almost three decades without a title on Merseyside.

Man United fans love winning trophies but they love watching rivals Liverpool lose almost as much.
Man United fans get great pleasure out of winning trophies but seeing Liverpool lose comes a close second.

Making it 20 in 2013, Ferguson's last season at the club, gave United some breathing room, but it was understandable why he was so distraught when his team were knocked out of the Champions League final against Real Madrid that same season. Ferguson couldn't even face the post-match interviews, sending Mike Phelan in his place, following the controversial red card for Nani that turned the game around.

The legendary manager then knew it was his last go at winning the competition, even though he hadn't publicly announced his retirement yet, and knew the two European Cups he'd won during his 27 years didn't accurately represent the quality of the teams he had created during his reign.

While United have one over their rivals when it comes to the league, they are now faced with the prospect of Liverpool doubling their number of European Cups.

If United fans were given the choice between both teams winning their cup finals, or neither winning, which would they pick?

While one can't speak for entire fan base, there are probably more United fans than you would imagine who would rather lose the FA Cup final if it meant a defeat for Liverpool in Kiev.

That says something about how relatively unimportant a win at Wembley is, given there wouldn't be much debate if United had the offer of the Premier League title on the table instead. But also about how painful it would be to see Liverpool pull out so far ahead of them in terms of European success.

The thought of Jurgen Klopp becoming the next Rafa Benitez, a manager incapable of leading Liverpool to a genuine title fight but winning the Champions League after an average league campaign, is pretty unbearable for United fans. It's made all the worse given that Jose Mourinho, a manager with real pedigree in the competition, oversaw a gutless defeat against Sevilla in the first knockout round this season.

Thankfully for United supporters, it doesn't have to be one or the other. When looking at the likely outcome, there is more chance of Zinedine Zidane and Mourinho lifting trophies over the coming weeks. But that doesn't change the fact many United supporters will be just as nervous about the Champions League final this season as they are their own cup final.

Scott is one of ESPN FC's Manchester United bloggers. Follow him on Twitter: @R_o_M.

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