A rivalry that thrives on passion, pride and mutual hatred, a meeting between two of England’s greatest clubs is bound to be an affair where emotions run wild. A tie in which neither club wants to come out as second best, the Northwest rivalry between Manchester United and Liverpool has its hostilities dating back to centuries, when the cities of Manchester and Liverpool were competing with each other for industrial supremacy.
From the time of the British Industrial Revolution to the modern day, these two cities have always shared an enmity, which when spilled on to the football pitch is able to express itself even more fiercely. Both United and Liverpool claim themselves to be ‘the greatest English football club’, and when they have won 121 honours between them, that shouldn’t come as a surprise. Both the clubs have had their share of domination of the English football scene.
Liverpool have won 18 league titles and a staggering 5 European Cups, while United on the other hand have won 3 European Cups and a record 20 league titles, 13 of which have come under the guidance of legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson.
This is one rivalry which has it all – battles for league titles to European supremacy, managerial feuds to player rivalries, fan chants ridiculing death and tragedy.
Be it Rafa Benitez vs Sir Alex, Jamie Carragher vs Gary Neville, Luis Suarez refusing to shake Patrice Evra’s hand, feelings of mutual hatred have always run deep in this fixture. Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard has never failed to show his dislike for United, just like his United counterpart Gary Neville. “I can’t stand Liverpool. I can’t stand anything to do with them,” were the remarks of the former United captain, a youth academy product and fan favourite of the Red Army.
Current captain Wayne Rooney isn’t far behind either. The Everton academy product grew up hating the Reds. And when enmity runs so deep off the pitch, how can it stay far behind on it?
If something is guaranteed in this fixture, it is that it will be filled with reckless challenges and sending offs and plenty of fights, verbal as well as physical. There are always plenty of controversies associated with the fixture, be it wrongly dished out cards and penalties or accusations of racism.
As far as the fans are concerned, if one takes a deeper look, both sets of supporters appear quite similar in nature. They share the same passion for the beautiful game and their beloved club; they all just want to see their club defeat the other, and the other’s success is something they just cannot stand by any means.
The Kop just want to get back at United by reclaiming their superiority in England, as United have upstaged them in recent years with the number of league titles they’ve won, surpassing Liverpool’s long-standing tally of 18 titles. United fans on the other hand have to continuously hear about the staggering five European titles that Liverpool have won; with Manchester having won just three, going past the Merseysider’s tally of five is what all the fans hope for, and the banter between the opposing sides has been going on for years.
The sides meet again this Sunday at Old Trafford. United will be missing out on key players like Angel Di Maria, and given their defensive frailties, may encounter some problems at the back. Liverpool on the other hand, are far from their dream run of last season; with striker Daniel Sturridge missing out with injury and Mario Balotelli unable to find his shooting boots, the Reds have only managed to come up with lacklustre performances this season.
But as they say, going into the derby, form goes out of the window. Both teams will be desperate for a great result as it will be a big boost for their season ahead. With derby day beckoning, the fans would be hoping for a cracker of a game.Published 13 Dec 2014, 05:42 IST