Clash of the Titans, but is it still the biggest?

March 4, 2011 Tags: , Opinion 34 comments

Manchester United’s clash with near neighbours Liverpool has taken on more significance this weekend as the Reds look to respond after defeat at Stamford Bridge. But with the emergence of a cross city title challenge from Manchester City and recent title tussles with Chelsea does the game against the old enemy still get the juices flowing as much as used to?

Some would say it’s a generational thing but for many supporters it’s a no brainer, this is still the fixture. Beating City, Chelsea and Arsenal is as sweet as its come but the history between United and Liverpool provides that special something else.

Even before England’s two most successful football teams came in to being rivalry still existed between the two famous cities. The River Mersey and the Manchester ship canal providing trading routes which enabled both to prosper; but it’s on the football pitch where the real history has been made.

Liverpool’s dominance of the eighties created a sense of injustice among United followers, Liverpool was a great team yes but many felt Bryan Robson and co. deserved better and with good reason. In the 22 times that United and Liverpool faced each other during that decade United won eight to Liverpool’s four and the rest were drawn. Unfortunately Liverpool easily trumped United on trophies.

This stat proves, however, that the teams were not as far apart in terms of quality as history would have you believe. In fact it still baffles many how United didn’t win the league during the eighties. A side packed with talent such as Robson, Ray Wilkins, Norman Whiteside and Frank Stapleton; a side fit to challenge and beat Europe’s elite, including as Barcelona in 1984. But the first league title since 1967 eluded them. Things did seem to conspire against United, injuries to key players and inability to beat the seemingly “lesser” teams. Yet, despite it being a painful admission, Liverpool was terrific back then and here is where the rivalry truly starts.

Today much has changed. In 1995 shortly after Eric Cantona had been banned for his infamous Kung Fu kick a Liverpool fan hung a banner up at Anfield proclaiming “Au Revoir Cantona, come back when you’ve won eighteen.” Well last season United was back and the club’s record-equalling eighteenth title has simply added more spice to the rivalry between Manchester and Merseyside.

Even after the small demise for Liverpool under first Rafael Benitez and then Roy Hodgson the rivalry has not diminished. It still means everything for a United fan and player to beat Liverpool.

Each club respects the other’s achievements but in turn wants to put the rival ‘in their place’ equally as much. If you want to be the biggest, you have to beat the best as the old football cliché goes. Sir Alex Ferguson knew this when he first arrived in Manchester back in 1986 immediately stating his intention to “knock Liverpool off their perch”. Now, the Merseyside club is no longer the best but just as in other footballing battles such as England versus Germany, or Real Madrid versus Barcelona, it is history and pride at stake as well as three points.

On Sunday Liverpool will be desperate to put a spanner in United’s works – especially the bid for a record nineteenth league title. Many Liverpool fans will feel stopping United winning the Premier League is almost as good as winning it themselves. United have been in a similar situation before. In May 1977 all that stood between Liverpool and a Domestic and European Treble was United. The FA Cup final was massive for United, having lost the previous year to Southampton, but to do it against Liverpool, to stop them winning the Treble – this was too good an opportunity to miss. United grabbed it with both hands and became the halcyon “Scouse busters”. The ‘Doc’s Army’ brought the Cup back to Manchester thanks to goals from “Pancho” Pearson and Jimmy Greenhoff.

These games still ooze history. In fact it is the key to the fixture. Both clubs have experienced euphoric highs, devastating lows, tragedy and recovery. Each has always strived to be the best around and respect each other, yet want to beat each other just as much. United versus Liverpool is as special as always.


Rob - March 4, 2011 Reply

I just fucking hate scousers. It’s still the biggest no matter how much City think the Manc derby is bigger.

Hope we go for this team:

Rafael, Smalling, Brown, Evra
Fletcher, Carrick, Giggs
Nani, Berba, Rooney

randy gitt - March 4, 2011 Reply

Think they will play Carrol and Suarez so will be interesting to see if they have any affect.

randy gitt - March 4, 2011 Reply

I am from exteter so this sh1t about hating scousers is a load of crud. They probably feel the same about Mancs.

Bill - March 4, 2011 Reply

With no Vida or Rio I fear the worst for this fixture. Prob a 2-0 loss.

Spike - March 4, 2011 Reply

If the Bindippers lose this one to a weakend Utd team, it will be the surprise of the season bar bolluxless signing again to Utd and Ginsoak’s secret midfield Masterplan.

joey - March 4, 2011 Reply

you have got it exactly right apart from the hating scousers bit,some brain donors might hate us full stop but as a lfc season ticket holder for 30 years since i was ten brought up with the rivalry through good and bad i think it is a hatred of each others clubs ,i have worked for a long time in warrington with utd fans from salford and manchester and i would not have a bad word said about them but come matchday i think they are day though best mates again,way it should be.

Nathan Thomas - March 4, 2011 Reply

Yeah, probably didn’t express myself well enough there. Like you say there is the football hatred which doesn’t (for most people) stretch into everyday life, thats really what I was writing around.

mongoletsi - March 4, 2011 Reply

Word. I’m from the cheshire hinterland myself. My dad’s family are Utd, mum’s are dippers. Both my best mates are two. But on Sunday they’re all cunts and I’ll have nothing to do with them :o)

Triggs - March 4, 2011 Reply

We’ll be fine unless they get some super jammy luck or Stevie Me suddenly kicks in to life. Last week at Upton Park he gave the ball away more than any Liverpool player all season.

Suarez looks good, but he dosent like robust defending, so as long as Brown and Smalling stay tight, I don’t see him causing too many problems.

Berba should return to the team and hopefuilly Giggs too. Kelly’s out so does that mean that liability Johnson will be at right back?

nish - March 4, 2011 Reply

As a ManU supporter, think some of the bile on this website is embarrasing. Rivalry is great but some of the remarks make you seem like a neaderthal

Ed - March 4, 2011 Reply

nish – as a United supporter you shouldn’t, ever, ever, ever call the club “ManU”. Makes you sound like a WUM…

mongoletsi - March 4, 2011 Reply


Let me spell it out for Nish: U.N.I… T.E.D…

nish - March 4, 2011 Reply

By the way Rob, is Rob short for Roberta as your mullett hair-style in your photo makes you look like a girl.

Triggs - March 4, 2011 Reply

The best witty comments are the ones you have to explain.

nish - March 7, 2011 Reply


The Druid - March 4, 2011 Reply

Good article, interesting as I read it I couldnt help but feel what is written about United above in the 80s – how did we not win it with the team we had – Liverpool will surely come to say about the last 10 years ish (TBF they already are). Not sure what the head to head record is but sure it is respectable enough from a Liverpool perspective.

Still a massive game for me.

simpson - March 4, 2011 Reply

fantastic artice nathan thomas…

Alfonso Bedoya - March 4, 2011 Reply

This game is a must win… to lose again so soon after dropping to the Renties, would be bad enough… but the thought of the Verrrmin lording it up, knowing that they’ve hurt our title charge… urrrghhhh… the bile rises at the thought…

danniitronix - March 4, 2011 Reply

without ANY doubt the biggest clash in English football

to even suggest that Chelsea and City even feature on the landscape that United and Liverpool operate on is ridiculous

United and Liverpool together ARE English football

Yes you can talk about Arsenal but actually if you do that then you need to talk about Forest and Villa. You can operate on the Sky TV mentality or you can see the real history behind these clubs.

For me the Chavs and Citeh don’t even feature on the landscape – in fact I don;t even consider them rivals not in a historic sense

uncleknobheadforfucksake - March 4, 2011 Reply

we’ll lose again, even when we were good theyd still batter us and wed just about nick it because we had better forwards, now we’re both shit and the fact theyll be more up for it than our bottling shite will be enough

Ashish - March 4, 2011 Reply

This game WAS the biggest.

Just ask yourselves this question:which club has the ability to challenge United’s dominance ?Is it Liverpool?

Hell no it isn’t.

But you could say that the likes of Chelsea and City do pose a threat.

This rivalry is actually getting weaker and weaker as the years go by.

No doubt that because of the history and the trophies that the clubs have won in the past,people perceive this game as massive and rightly so.

But the truth of the matter is that the gulf in quality between the 2 teams is increasing.

What harm can Liverpool inflict on United’s dominance in todays age?

simpson - March 4, 2011 Reply

i see 5 goals in this but i don’t know who will score come out on top..

my wish Man Utd 3 – 2 Loosl

simpson - March 4, 2011 Reply

i see 5 goals in this but i don’t know who will score come out on top..

my wish loserpool 2 – 3 Man Utd

Calvino - March 4, 2011 Reply

Rio will play. SAF is talking rubbish as smokescreen. He had been keeping Rio back for this game and he has Dalglish and co thinking that he would not play.

*goes to consult the voodoo doll in the wardrobe*
*Comes out looking really glum*

sidney - March 4, 2011 Reply

Course its the biggest, domestically at least
Two most successful and widely supported & respected international institutions
City, Chelsea, Arsenal… they’re just pretenders when it comes to the big boys. No European Cups between ’em.
If Carrick or Fletcher play after signing mega deals, then they have to put in a serious shift or else they can fuck off
I’m hoping for a reaction after Stamford Bidge, but realistically, I think we’ll draw or lose
We’ll be in the shit if we don’t get 3 points, but I don’t think Arsenal will win all of their “easy” games – not if they can lose at home to West Brom FFS. Sunderland might get a result

Alfonso Bedoya - March 4, 2011 Reply

Arsenal aren’t the same without Fabregas… and he’s out… as is Van Percie, and Walcott…

That’s a lot of fire power to be missing… they’ve probably still got enough to beat Sunderland… but it’s by no means a given…

sidney - March 4, 2011 Reply

Sunderland need to turn up like they did at Stamford Bridge and do ’em 3-0

It’s possible

han - March 4, 2011 Reply

united v crawley is a bigger game
fucking scouse bum bandits

MATTHEW RILEY - March 5, 2011 Reply


sheesh - March 5, 2011 Reply

I have a feeling that Rio will start tomorrow, possibly Park too (even though officially the latter is not supposed to return until next week).

Ted - March 5, 2011 Reply

Blog Commenter said:
Word. I’m from the cheshire hinterland myself. My dad’s family are Utd, mum’s are dippers. Both my best mates are two. But on Sunday they’re all cunts and I’ll have nothing to do with them :o )

Me too Mong! Nice to see that horrible bin dippin twat who got caught by the cameras chanting “Munich” had his collar felt by the dibble. Fuckin waste ‘o’ jizz.

Them pricks are fuckin doomed. Any half decent player they’ve had has fucked ’em off. Gerrards fucked and Carrigers wanked out. That prick Dogleash has bottled it everywhere he’s gone cozz he’s a shit house. They’ve no cunt worth having. Jobs a good’un.

kramer - March 6, 2011 Reply

i’d give anything to see united win resoundingly after arsenal fucked up yesterday.
it won’t happen though, even if we go a goal up early, our midfield will drop back to the penalty box again. fuck, i hate this shit.

danniitronix - March 7, 2011 Reply

Any person who still thinks that united liverpool is not the biggest fixture in english club football is a dong

han - March 7, 2011 Reply

u wanna suck mine danni?

Add your comment