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5 reasons behind the Manchester United-Liverpool rivalry

Akshay Pai
Top 5 / Top 10
Modified 20 Dec 2019, 08:51 IST

LIVERPOOL, UNITED KINGDOM - JANUARY 04: The Rocket fly over at the end of the M62 motorway has been given a night-time lighting makeover to welcome visitors to Liverpool as it celebrates European City of Culture 2008. January 4, 2008. The city has invested  millions of pounds in it
Liverpool and Manchester are separated by only 35 miles

The last 2 and a half decades have seen an utter domination of the domestic scene by the Red Devils, winning 13 Premier League titles and a host of FA Cups and League Cups. Alex Ferguson’s retirement saw United uncharacteristically struggle these past few seasons, but with a serial winner like Jose Mourinho at the helm and an immense war chest, it’s only a matter of time before they reach the peak once again.

United’s rapid rise saw Liverpool relegated to the shadows, constantly underachieving, with the infamous ‘spice boys’ tag of the late 90’s still haunting them to this day.

While the trophies haven’t actually dried up completely, they will feel a club of their stature should have much loftier ambitions. The early part of this decade were some of the darkest times a Liverpool fan will ever have to recall, with an ominous threat of administration hanging over their heads, but with Jürgen Klopp managing the Reds, their trajectory can only go upward.

Also read: 5 iconic moments from Liverpool-Manchester United matches

It is a rivalry that has always been about one-upmanship, and more importantly one that places heavy importance on having the last word. The antipathy is always there. It is unshakeable, tribalistic and has been around the block for one hundred and twenty-two years.

While there is always a sense of begrudging respect between the two sides for all the success they achieved in their history, what is the reason behind this unbridled animosity?

Here, we take a look at 5 reasons that have been central to establishing one of the fiercest rivalries in modern football.

#5 The close proximity of both cities

Manchester United vs Liverpool has always been a deeply rooted rivalry. While every season sees some relatively ‘friendly’ Merseyside derbies Liverpool have against Everton, their noisy neighbours on the opposite end of Stanley Park, or the more recent competitive rivalry United have against Manchester City, both sets of Reds look 35 miles down the M62 for their biggest rivals. This close proximity ensures that when the 2 clubs do face each other in a competition, sparks fly.

There is a certain ignominy for a Red having to go to work the next morning after a loss and having to face a Blues-supporting co-worker; a heritage of footballing culture within the city has also ensured that even families might be split down the middle in allegiances. The situation is somewhat similar in Manchester, though to a far lesser extent.


Therefore, these matches have come to represent matters of immense pride for both clubs, with both sets of players putting everything on the line. The clashes between the 2 historic clubs are often swathed by crunching tackles, heated exchanges and a permeating tension that always threatens to erupt.

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Published 02 Dec 2016, 17:43 IST
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