Liverpool legend Ian Rush has told the club to “fight” to retain their place as the most successful in English football.
The club have not won a league title since they clinched the last of their record 18 crowns in 1990 and Manchester United, with 10 in the intervening years, are now just one behind on 17.
Liverpool still have an extra edge with five European Cups to United’s two, but Alex Ferguson’s side could further erode their position in with victory in this year’s final next week.
Rush wrote in his 'Liverpool Echo' column: “The club should be prepared to fight because it is really important that we continue to be regarded as the most successful club in the country.
“That record has been built up over decades of hard work and doing things the right way and it has to be preserved.
“No-one has the divine right to win the title. You have to earn that right and that’s what Liverpool have done in the past and need to do again.”
Liverpool finished the season in fourth in the Premier League but Rush, the Anfield club’s record goalscorer, is hopeful that the gap to the top can be bridged.
He added: “This time, United have been pushed all the way by Chelsea. It was a tight finish and could have gone either way, but United did enough on the last day and that makes them worthy champions.
“From a Liverpool point of view, we have to be on their shoulders next season and we have to be involved in the title race as it goes into the final straight.
“That is the challenge for everyone at the club and what greater motivation do you need than preserving one of the proudest records in football?”
Reds boss Rafael Benitez has already said he will delay his holiday to try to force through high-profile transfers, with Aston Villa’s Gareth Barry top of his list.
Benitez claims he will work right through his break to achieve his aims.
He said: “I will have my mobile on holiday with me and as long as my wife doesn’t find it, I will continue to work.
“If she does find it, maybe she will throw it into the swimming pool.”