Man United v Liverpool: a rivalry

Canals, ****s... and the Queen. I look into the #lfc and #mufc rivalry.

Some say that inter-city rivalries fuel many football clubs and their fans: Sheffield, Glasgow, London - the list goes on. 

Now I’m a resident of Manchester - and still learning about the ins and outs of the city - I’ve discovered that for a lot of Manchester United fans, the main rivals aren’t Manchester City, but Liverpool. 

And as I’ve been invited to a pub to watch the match tomorrow, I thought I’d best look into this long - and intriguing - history. 

Manchester United are playing away from Old Trafford against (arguably) their biggest rivals! 

Manchester United are playing away from Old Trafford against (arguably) their biggest rivals! 

No love is lost between the clubs. When I asked fans from both sides what they thought about the rivalry, the words were, let’s say, colourful. One Liverpool supporter even answered: “What, apart from the fact [United] are a bunch of ****s?” Ouch.

The rivalry arguably goes beyond football. Some say it started at the docks: the BBC documentary ‘A Tale of Two Rival Cities’ describes how the opening of the Manchester canal in 1894 helped the city’s thriving cotton mills bypass the dominant Liverpool port and its high importation charges.

For many, this spilled over the canals and into football. And during the last 40 years, dominance has swung between both red teams and their growing trophy cabinets. Both sides having glory days - and days to be forgotten.

For some, the United-Liverpool debate runs right up to Buckingham Palace. Al, who, along with her family, is a die hard Liverpool fan, says: “It’s a disgrace that Bob Paisley only got an OBE after winning three European Cups, while Ferguson was knighted for winning just one, but it doesn’t surprise me at all - there’s a real establishment bias against Liverpool.”  

And so the rivalry reignites tomorrow. Mourinho’s men have started the season strongly, with Lukaku leading the charge and whilst Liverpool are currently 7th, I think they are still a force to be reckoned with. 

And what about the score prediction? Lifelong United fan Steven admits derbies like this aren’t easy: “Tomorrow is hard to predict. These games don’t come down to form. They are horrible in the build up, because losing is an awful experience."

Liverpool mad Al is more optimistic, going for a 3-1 Liverpool victory. She also cheekily adds: “As long as [Mourinho] decides to unpark the bus.”

But what of Manchester City? They are currently top of the league after all. Steven admits that in recent years, the all-Manchester derbies have started to impact title races and cup runs. But for many United fans, there is only one fixture to look out for. As Steven says: “I don't see the Liverpool [rivalry] changing though. It's too ingrained in the teams.”

No doubt, the argument about Manchester and Liverpool clubs (and their main rivals) will rage on for years to come. For tomorrow at least, the main focus will be on the two red teams in the North West - and who takes home the bragging rights. I’ll be there in the pub, pint in hand - and stacked up with my new-found background knowledge.

Where next?

If you have any recommendations for things to do (especially in the North West), let me know! @stephesonnrich.

Until next time, keep it onside.