Brendan Rodgers has warned Manchester United there will be lasting consequences for failing to secure Champions League football and said Liverpool would move out of reach with victory at Old Trafford on Sunday.

The Liverpool manager has watched a remarkable swing in fortunes against United this season and heads to Old Trafford 11 points above David Moyes's team, having finished 28 points below Sir Alex Ferguson's champions last term. Progress at Anfield is even more impressive given Liverpool's problems in the transfer market since falling outside the European elite in 2009-10, with targets Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Diego Costa and Willian favouring Champions League clubs in the past year alone.

Rodgers knows from experience that Liverpool's global reputation and history of success could not compete with the lure of the Champions League for leading players. He believes United will not be immune from the problem should Moyes's side – in sixth and nine points adrift of fourth-placed Manchester City, having played two games more – need to rebuild from a position of weakness this summer.

The Liverpool manager said: "This is a worldwide club, a monumental club, but when you're not in the Champions League we found it difficult because the best players want to play in the best competitions. This was Liverpool and we weren't in the Champions League and in order to get in some of the type of players we want, that's where we need to be and are trying to be. Any club will suffer the same when they're not in there. There is no doubt it will hurt you but they [United] will know that."

Rodgers says Liverpool's experiences since 2009-10 show there is no easy route back into the Champions League and that a slide from title contention can soon become permanent. Kenny Dalglish, the last Liverpool manager to win a league title, 24 years ago, claimed this week: "Liverpool are on a crest of a wave going to Old Trafford and United are on the crest of a slump."

The current Liverpool manager said: "It's not simple to get back in. You think every year is the next year. I was reading a Jan Molby interview today about the great Liverpool teams of the past. He said when they missed out one year became two and then all of a sudden it was 20 years since they last won the title. It can get away from you very quickly. It's our focus and drive to arrive in there. We have a long way to go but show great potential to be in there. I believe if we can get to that level then it gives us a massive advantage as a club."

Liverpool are unbeaten in the Premier League this year, winning seven and drawing two of their last nine games, and Champions League aspirations have turned increasingly towards a first championship since 1990. Rodgers, though bullish about his side's form, claims Liverpool "still have a lot of work to get into the Champions League" and denied his players arrive at Old Trafford as the superior team.

He said: "I think it is dangerous to think that. They are still the champions and until that changes all we can do is go there and look where we are at. We are second in the league on merit. We have performed consistently for a long period of time and that makes us a very dangerous opponent. We know we are dangerous but I would never disrespect them and what they have done over a long period of time."

That said, Rodgers is adamant United will not be able to catch Liverpool, should his side win at Old Trafford for the first time in five years on Sunday. "We are 11 points clear now. If it goes to 14 they can't do it. Even 11 is going to be very tough because we are entering into a period where we are stronger. We were brilliant over the last 10 games of last season and we have been doing the same pattern this year. Our first job is to consolidate fourth and then work upwards. That is the aim."