The Tale of Two Champions
Tonight, two of the most successful English clubs, Manchester United and Liverpool go against each other on the Third Round of the FA Cup. The fixture between the two clubs is one of the most significant sporting rivalries in football, referred to as the North West Derby since both clubs hail from the North West of England.
The rivalry between the two cities began since the 18th to the 19th century, during the Industrial Revolution. During this time, both were competing with each other for supremacy of the north-west, with Manchester famous for its manufacturing prowess while Liverpool was famous for the importance of its port. The battle between these clubs intensified when Manchester United became the first English club to win a European Cup in 1968. But, soon after, Liverpool won 4 trophies and was hailed as Champions of Europe during the 1970s and 1980s. Liverpool dominated English football during the 1970s and 1980s while Manchester United in the 1990s and 2000. Both have a total of 58 trophies from various competitions. Both won 18 championships for a domestic derby. Liverpool however has not won any Premier League title since it’s creation in 1992 while Manchester United already won 11 since and is currently on top of the table for this season with 2 points ahead of Manchester City. It was so intense that both players and fans cursed each other. At the 1996 FA Cup Final, an unidentified Liverpool fan spat at Eric Cantona (former Manchester United player) and threw a punch at Sir Alex Ferguson as the victorious Manchester United team walked up the steps at Wembley Stadium to collect the trophy from the Royal Box. After the FA Cup match in 2006, an ambulance carrying Alan Smith (Manchester United midfielder), who had broken his leg during the match, was attacked on it’s way to the hospital by Liverpool fans. Also, at Anfield (Liverpool’s home stadia), a fan threw an egg at Alex Ferguson in the late 1990s.
The rivalry extended to the players as well. United striker Wayne Rooney said that he grew up hating the Reds. Same feelings came out from Gary Neville and John O’Shea, both United players. Neville, also had a past with a Liverpool player Steve Mcmanam after a head-butting incident. On the other hand, Livepool’s Captain Steven Gerrard took a film crew on a tour of his home where he showed off a collection of football shirts he had swapped with opposing players and reiterated that there was no Manchester United shirts in there and that he would never have one in his house.
The two champions of England will meet again at Old Trafford (United’s home stadia), Sir Alex going for a home advantage and a no loss campaign while the interim coach and former Liverpool player Kenny Dalglish (replacing Roy Hodgson who was sacked by Liverpool this week) needs to use his magic once more and drag his team up but as a coach this time. It’s been less than 2 years now when the two clubs went head-to-head for a Premier League title , with Liverpool winning a 4-1 run at Old Trafford. What can both teams offer tonight? Liverpool’s line up seems to be a little down the wire, Fernando Torres seemed to have healed but his shots are not spot-on while Gerrard, at 30 seemed to have slowed a bit like usual. On the other side of the pitch, Wayne Rooney has been sidelined with ankle injury (again) but Javier Hernandez has been called to fill the void.
It’s gonna be an exciting match. An old rivalry relive. A tale of two champions.