Thursday, October 13, 2011

Liverpool vs Manchester United : The Rivalry

The North West Derby
Liverpool and Manchester United are two of the biggest sporting clubs in the world. They are both proud sides and the rivalry between Manchester United and Liverpool is a fierce one. Between the two of them, Liverpool and Manchester United have won a staggering 36 League titles, 18 FA Cups and 8 European Cups. So while the two compete bitterly for the spoils, they are also spurring on each other to bigger and better things.
Rivalry Summary on Manchester United vs. Liverpool - History & Highlights
The two have always been the best of enemies. Wayne Rooney and Gary Neville have been vocal in their dislike of Liverpool while Steven Gerrard has said the same about the Red Devils. It is just a fact of life that Manchester United and Liverpool do not get on. No player has made a direct transfer between the teams since Phil Chisnall moved to Anfield in 1964. This is how bitter the Liverpool – Manchester United rivalry is.

In recent times it has got personal between the managers with Rafa Benitez giving it to Alex Ferguson and vice versa. If you have Liverpool fans cheering on Everton as they did when Everton played Manchester United in the FA Cup, you know that this rivalry means a lot.

Liverpool had bragging rights when they defeated Manchester United 4-1 at Old Trafford in March 2009. This was a huge defeat but Liverpool weren't able to use it as a springboard to win the league. What would sting Liverpool greatly is that since their last League title in 1990, Manchester United has won the league, 11 times.

The two have twice met in the FA Cup final and both times Manchester United were victorious. The first was in 1977 and the second was in 1996.

The 1977 Final was fiercely contested. Liverpool were playing to win the League – European Cup – FA Cup treble. Manchester United were trying to stop them and win the FA Cup for the first time since 1963. Led by Bob Paisley, Liverpool were the much stronger side. They had the likes of Phil Neal, Kevin Keegan, Jimmy Case, Terry McDermott and were led by Emlyn Hughes.

In the Manchester United side that day were Jimmy Nicholl, Steve Coppell, Lou Macari and Martin Buchan. Interesting enough, all three goals were scored in a five-minute burst. Stuart Pearson opened the scoring, Case equalized and Jimmy Greenhoff got the winner three minutes later.

19 years later, the two met in the FA Cup Final once again. Jamie Redknapp, John Barnes, Steve McManaman, Robbie Fowler and Ian Rush were in the Liverpool side while Manchester United were star-studded with the likes of David Beckham, Roy Keane, Ryan Giggs and Eric Cantona. It was Cantona who grabbed the winner in the 85th minute in what was a pretty dreary game. But when you're talking about the Manchester United - Liverpool rivalry, all that matters is the result and the Manchester United players would have been thrilled to have won the trophy at Liverpool's expense. Conversely, the Liverpool players would have been devastated to have lost the FA Cup to Manchester United.

Liverpool had the chance to deny Manchester United the treble in 1999 but lost 2-1 in the fourth round in a loss which would have stung all of Anfield.

Liverpool won the 2006 FA Cup and what would have made it all the more sweeter would have been defeating Manchester United in the fifth round of it. They won 1-0 at Anfield courtesy of a Peter Crouch goal. This was Liverpool's first FA Cup win over Manchester United in an astonishing 85 years. As Sir Alex Ferguson said after the match, "It has been 85 years since Liverpool beat us in the FA Cup and I was hoping it would be another 85 years, then I wouldn't be around to see it." That quote underlies the real feeling behind the Manchester United-Liverpool rivalry.

The feelings are mutual. In his autobiography, Steven Gerrard said, "during 90 minutes of football, I want United to die."

Liverpool were definitely the dominant team in terms of the Liverpool - Manchester United rivalry in the 70s and for most of the 80s but it has been all Manchester United for the last 20 years. As the saying goes, he who laughs last, laughs loudest and there has been much laughter and frivolity coming out of Old Trafford at the expense of Liverpool.

The rivalry between Liverpool and Manchester United now has the feeling of a big brother – little brother. It's personal, it's tense and it always ends in tears for someone. The stakes are high between the teams as they always put it on the line against each other.

Nothing drives Sir Alex Ferguson more than this rivalry. He would take pleasure that since he started at Manchester United, he has seen off Kenny Dalglish, Ronnie Moran, Graeme Souness, Roy Evans, Gerard Houllier and Rafa Benitez and not one of them has won the league on his watch. As unpalatable as it is, he can stomach Arsenal and Chelsea winning the league and possibly even Blackburn Rovers but not Liverpool. That would be too much for him to bear.

These two teams just don't like each other.

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