Manchester-Liverpool: A Rivalry That Transcends Football
The tenacity that comes with a bitter rivalry in the world of sports is captivating. Virtually every team in every league at every level of professional play has experienced this in some capacity. The other team–the bad guys, so to speak–that fuels them to play their best. The team against whom you’ll always have the extra motivation to hit that buzzer-beating three point shot, break off a nasty curveball in the 9th inning or fake out the last defender standing between you and an empty net.
The Manchester United Liverpool rivalry encompasses all that and more.
Some claim that the rivalry between these two teams is the biggest rivalry in all of sports anywhere in the world–bigger than Major League Baseball’s Yankees Red Sox rivalry, bigger than the NBA’s Celtics – Lakers rivalry. Man U and Liverpool might be the biggest rivalry in sports history, and it’s not just limited to the soccer pitch.
Manchester and Liverpool, both cities in North West England, have been embroiled in a rivalry dating back to the late 1800s, when Manchester constructed the Manchester Ship Canal, allowing merchants to avoid paying dues on imports and exports. The negative impact on Liverpool’s economy, as well as job loss and financial setbacks helped to spark the hatred between the two cities separated by less than 50 miles.
Now, over 100 years later, the rivalry between the two cities has, to a degree, settled down. Both are hotbeds of culture and success, two of the bigger and more well-rounded cities throughout England. Over time, the two cities and their residents have warmed up to one another, though the football teams certainly have not.
Typically, the validity of a rivalry can be confirmed if faceoffs between the two teams have a designated name–the “Subway Series” between baseball’s Yankees and Mets, or the “Battle of Route 66” between the Cubs and Cardinals to name a few. The term “North-West Derby” is now associated with matches between Liverpool and Manchester United, an obvious reference to the cities’ geographic locations.
Both Manchester United and Liverpool are some of the most popularly represented clubs in the world, adding fuel to the fire of the rivalry. Further adding pressure to both teams to compete is each clubs’ historic record of success–the two combine for 38 league titles between them.
Though the tenacity has changed over time, the players have came and gone, and managers have been hired and fired by both clubs, the competition remains the same. Though the overall record slightly favors Manchester, who have won 79 times to Liverpool’s 65, each club retains bragging rights in their own respect, pointing to the myriad of European championships, league titles, UEFA cups, and much, much more.
Most recently, the teams played to a draw in October, further emphasizing the competitive nature found between two teams with a rivalry that brings out the best in all athletes involved. And while the relationship between the cities of Manchester and Liverpool have cooled down considerably in the last 100 or so years, the tenacity on the pitch certainly has not.