The two biggest rivals in the Premier League are heading for their first clash of the season this weekend at Old Trafford. A time when not only the teams battle it out on the pitch, but also the rival factions battle it out, verbally, on the terraces.
Everybody in English football has their adversaries, however, none more so than the reds from either end of the East Lancs. It’s a rivalry that has been built up over the years and one that is not likely to get any friendlier anytime in the future.
The tension between the two cities and clubs has been well documented down the years as both teams have fought it out to be the top dog of English football and no matter how hard the hierarchy have tried to broker peace deals there is more chance of a peace agreement between Israel and Palestine. The hatred is inbred having been passed down from generations to future generations. If you are a Manchester United fan then you hate Liverpool and definitely vice versa.
It was fanzines sold outside the stadiums during the 80’s, 90’s and into the new millennium that fuelled the fire and gave fans the platform from which to vent their anger. This was followed by the development of social media that has only provided supporters with a bigger stage on which to show their bitterness towards each other, with fans using the medium to poke fun at their rivals or more seriously take it to the extreme and downright vile levels of hatred.
Past jealousy has had a lot to do with the friction as in the fifties and sixties it was all about United then during the long wait for the title to return to Old Trafford it was Liverpool who were the top Liver Birds until Alex Ferguson famously restored the balance and knocked them off their perch. Now it is the scousers who find themselves in the unenviable position of waiting for their next league success as it’s been a quarter of a century since they were last crowned champions. In that time, United leapfrogged the Anfield outfit to win the most titles.
Lately, the title has been a step too far for both clubs which has meant a battle to finish in the top four to enable Champions League qualification has been the target. Of course United’s priority is to win the title, but if they do not, then to finish above Liverpool becomes crucial and this they achieved last season and by doing so claimed fourth place.
The players down the years have added that extra spice to the matches, especially during goal celebrations, none more so than Gary Neville, who ran the length of the pitch at Old Trafford to show the away fans in no uncertain terms where his loyalties lay that day and he even had his own anthem in which everyone one was reminded of who he hated.
Wayne Rooney seems to be the main target of the Liverpool fans’ vitriol due to his allegiance to Everton, but with the departure of Steven Gerrard to the USA, the United fans will have to find someone new to aim their particular hatred to, manager Brendan Rodgers appears to be a safe bet for the time being.
However, now that both sides have added new foreign stars to their squads will the intensity of the United vs Liverpool matchday recede? The answer has to be a resounding no as both set of players will only have to walk the streets of their new cities, read what the fans are saying on the internet or listen to the players who have had first-hand experience of what to expect from the games.
In recent times, teams like Manchester City and Chelsea have risen to new heights thanks to the investment of billions into their transfer kitties, but Manchester United vs Liverpool is always the first match that both United and Liverpool fans look for when the Premier League announce the new season fixtures, whether it be at home or away, the faithful on both sides plan for those days more than any other games.
So here is to the continuation of the rivalry as it makes the build up and aftermath of the matches all the more entertaining as both group of fans try to outdo each other in the bragging rights. One thing is for sure – the new players on both sides will fully understand the importance of this fixture come Saturday evening win, lose or draw. Bring it on!