Manchester United icon Rio Ferdinand has dismissed suggestions that runaway Premier League leaders Liverpool have been lucky this season and admits that he fears Jurgen Klopp's side will dominate football for years to come.

The Reds senior players are currently on their winter break, which enabled the club's youngest-ever starting line-up to defeat League One Shrewsbury Town in their FA Cup fourth round replay on Tuesday night, but return to action on Saturday February 15 at the Premier League's bottom club Norwich City having won 24 of their 25 top flight fixtures so far this term.

At the moment that haul gives undefeated Liverpool a 22-point cushion at the summit ahead of nearest challengers and champions of the past two seasons Manchester City, the largest ever lead ever enjoyed at the top of the table.

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With the Reds closing in on their first League Championship in 30 years – they need just 18 more points from the 39 available over their last 13 games – Ferdinand, who won six Premier League titles with old foes Manchester United – concedes they will be worthy winners.

Speaking at BT's launch of its new, five-year 4-3-3 partnership with the English, Scottish, Irish and Welsh FAs via the Mirror, he said: “You have to respect it, I think Liverpool have done a tremendous job.

“In the last two years the amount of points they have accumulated has been phenomenal. “They've done that, you have to admire it and respect it.

“You're not lucky to win the league, I know that from experience. You haven't got to be lucky you've got to be good enough to win a league and Liverpool are more than good enough.”

The 41-year-old, who has been forced to change his tune after hailing former team-mate Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's impact in the Old Trafford dugout last Spring, declaring: “Let him sign the contract. Ole’s at the wheel man, he’s doing his thing, Man United are back,” admits that Liverpool, who are already reigning European champions, could now be a major force for the considerable future.

Ferdinand added: “I think that is the scary part for everyone else is that Liverpool, this isn't about today, they're going to be in this for the long haul.

“They look like a team that is being built for the long-term.

“I think others team, other owners, can take a lead off of what Liverpool have done. They've invested in their manager, they've invested in his ideas. He's been allowed to implement them over time.

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“He didn't have success immediately, but you're seeing it bears fruit four or five years on now from the beginnings of that.

“He was given time and the resources and now the trophies are coming.”