Soccer Rivalries: Liverpool. Vs. Manchester United

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The Northwest Derby is one of the biggest rivalries in British soccer. The cities are just 35 miles apart, and they have been competing in every aspect of life since the Industrial Revolution.

Liverpool has been creating a strong finish this season, which is very much needed after the less-than-strong start. While Manchester United was among the favourites to win the league, alongside Newcastle and Arsenal.

So how did this soccer rivalry begin, and what does it mean today?

Dockers Vs Laborers

We are jumping back into the past to show some of the political rivalries between the two cities.

As we said before, it all started during the Industrial Revolution. Notably, in the late 1700s, Liverpool became known as one of the biggest seaports in the country. Their docks were critical to the city’s success and became an emblem of their area.

Jump forward to the 1800s, and Manchester builds the Ship Canal, which brought trade away from Liverpool and towards Manchester. Liverpool politicians opposed the construction, and soon the cities became heated towards each other.

Manchester had stolen their trade, and Liverpool was denying expansion. Although this might not seem relevant to soccer, this historical hatred still lives in the culture today.

Liverpool Football Club – Born From Rent Disputes

Liverpool Football Club was created when the Everton team refused to pay rent. 

The massive stadium had no football team, and no one for the locals to support. John Houlding jumped in to save the day while also criticising Everton for their greed. Liverpool Football Club was formed, and so was their first chant.

Liverpool fans would shout “You should have paid your rent”, whenever they were up against Everton.

The chant reflected the Liverpool way – hard grafters, who pay their dues. 

Newly Formed Liverpool Football Leaping Into The League

New teams are never expected to do well, and yet it took a single year for Liverpool to enter the Second Division. The year was 1893, and the team was undefeated. 

Just 7 years later Liverpool won the Football League Championship trophy. It was the first of many wins to come.

In 1906 Manchester United had a new name and was also entered into the Second Division. They muscled their way into the top spot, and in 1907 they won their first league title.

The win was so dramatic that they shoulder-barged Liverpool back into the Second Division.

Man U were on a roll. They won the first FA Charity Shield to be presented and the 1909 FA Cup.

The tide was turning in Man United’s favour.

Workermen Vs Glamor Darlings

Although both teams were one of the top contenders throughout history, the 1900s were a hard time for Liverpool. They made amazing plays, and won multiple awards, and yet Manchester United kept hogging the limelight.

United was considered a glamorous team. They were always in the newspaper or on the television. The team was well dressed, primed haircuts and we’re always ready for the media. Man U weren’t an amazing team during the 70s and 80s, and yet they dominated the soccer world.

Liverpool on the other hand, were making waves. They were at the top of the leaderboard and were as successful as ever.

Many people argue that this was the real start of the rivalry. The rest was kindling to this fire, and the media was the real spark.

Liverpool was seen as workmen in the soccer trade. They weren’t show-offs, and they knew where they had come from. Seeing a lesser team brag so openly about their work, and gain so much unwarranted attention brew resentment from the fans.

It didn’t take long for the Liverpoolians to nickname Manchester United “The Glams” – camera hogs with no real love for the game.

Player Vs Player

This rivalry wasn’t just from the fans though. Wayne Rooney, who played for Manchester United, grew up in Everton. His hatred of Liverpool came from two sides, and he openly said he would never have a Liverpool top in his home.

When British soccer teams play against each other, they often swap shirts so the team can keep a memento. Rooney would never take a Liverpool shirt.

On Liverpool’s side, David James admitted the rivalry was more of a habit. Liverpool boys would sit on one side of the table, Manchester on the other.

Neil Ruddock didn’t see it that way though. He broke both of Andy Cole’s legs, later stating he only meant to break one – “I absolutely destroyed him”.

Gary Neville was a Manchester United player, and although he voiced his dislike of Liverpool, he always admired their values. 

“I don’t like them, they don’t like me, but you know one thing I always thought about them? They were honest, they had integrity, they would look after their people; they would look after their own”.

Final Thoughts

The rivalry between Liverpool and Manchester United still lives on today. When the two teams play against each other, you can feel the electricity in the air. The matches are always intense, and you can expect one hell of a show!

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