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Manchester Utd v Liverpool - one of World Football's Great Matches
Introduction - Man U versus the Reds
Every football league in the world has its one big game each season. In Spain it's Barca against Real, in Italy Inter against Milan, in Iceland it's Knattspyrnufelag Reykjavik versus Valur. Of course, it's different for each and every biased fan who want their club to be involved in the biggest games!
The game of the season in the EPL is always Manchester United versus Liverpool, two of the most successful clubs in world football. Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester City may have something to say about that but, in terms of history and success, Man U v LFC is the game to watch.
While Manchester United have the bigger stadium and world fanbase, Liverpool are five times Champions of Europe and have, some argue, a brighter future football wise. New manager Jurgen Klopp has restored confidence to the team, the stadium is being enlarged and there is a renewed optimism amongst the Anfield faithful.
Liverpool, with their increasing emphasis on young players and a fast pressing game, have the chance to claw their way back to the top and gain the upper hand in this oldest of rivalries.
Matches between these two are often tight, keenly fought affairs but occasionally you get a freak score line. As in 2009, when Liverpool went to Old Trafford and won 4 goals to 1. And recently Manchester gained revenge with a sweet 3-0 beating of the Reds.
The media are guaranteed to get involved in controversy somewhere, somehow, and it's often up to the fans to show them what these games are all about - passion, skill, bragging rights.
This article will concentrate on the bitter and witty rivalry between the two sets of supporters, as well as concentrate on the football. As a regular at these matches over the years I can vouch for the unique atmosphere generated, a mix of hostile fervour, mutual appreciation and ecstatic celebration.
In the football world, nothing can quite equal Manchester United versus Liverpool. Ask any of their supporters.
First European Clash - Liverpool Prevail
Manchester United have been knocked out of the 2016 Europa Cup by their old rivals Liverpool. In the first match at Anfield, Liverpool produced a fast and ferocious performance to overcome a lacklustre United by 2-0. At Old Trafford the score was 1-1.
The Reds fully deserved the win. They were the ones who showed greater passion and commitment under Klopp's energetic direction.
These Two Clubs Have History
Manchester Utd and Liverpool first played each other way back in April 1894, with Liverpool winning 2-0. Then in October 1895 Liverpool thrashed the Mancunians 7-1! So began the history of these two iconic clubs, and it has gone on for all these years, except for two short hold ups - World War 1 and WW II.
In all the ensuing years there have been 220 matches in cup and league.
Overall both clubs have won between them: 38 League Titles, 8 European Cups, 4 UEFA Super Cups, 3 UEFA Cups, 18 FA Cups, 12 League Cups, 35 Community Shields. An amazing collection of silverware!
The Sacrifices Both Clubs Have Made
You don't get real success without having to go through the pain barrier. Both Manchester United and Liverpool have suffered over the years, major tragedies hitting both clubs.
On the 6th February 1958 the aptly named Busby Babes - named after Matt Busby, the then manager - were taking off in snowy weather from Munich airport when their plane crashed. Twenty three people lost their lives, amongst them some of the best young footballers in the country.
A nation mourned the unbelievable loss. Matt Busby survived the disaster, miraculously, and went on to build more great teams, culminating in the 1968 side that beat Benfica 4-1 in the then European Cup final. They were the first English club to become champions of Europe.
Liverpool are no strangers to tragedy. In April 1989 during the semi-final of an FA cup match played at Hillsborough stadium in Sheffield, 96 of their supporters were crushed to death as a result of poor crowd management and lack of organisation.
Family and friends of the bereaved fought a long hard battle for justice and have recently been vindicated in their belief that their loved ones died unnecessarily. A fitting memorial at Anfield gives the names of those who lost their lives, alongside an eternal flame.
Whilst rivalries remain and history rewritten with every match that is played, both clubs and supporters can hold their heads high and celebrate the fact that they have come through tragedy and are ready to move forward to greater glories.
How To Get To Old Trafford
One Game At A Time
The introduction of a fresh, intense pressing game by Jurgen Klopp, plus new players to bed in, has made for an interesting season for the Reds. Mistakes have proved costly and results have suffered. Liverpool have lost matches they were expected to win and won against more difficult teams.
The Anfield faithful, welcoming the new teutonic philosophy, have had to bite their knuckles and walk through a storm or two. Defeats at Anfield against such clubs as West ham and Crystal Palace have frustrated, while wins away at Manchester City and Chelsea have brought fresh hope of glory.
Overall, Klopp has won the trust of the fans with his passion and colourful commentary - he has a great opportunity to make his mark at this famous old club.
Manchester United meanwhile have parted company with Louis van Gaal, the stubborn, brilliant Dutchman, despite them winning the FA Cup in 2016. His methodical preparation, his slow, some would say boring, approach to playing football went against the ethos of Manchester Utd. Old Trafford fans demand fast flowing attack, wide wingers, creative midfielders and explosive finishing.
What set the Red Devils apart under their legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson was an uncanny ability to win matches even if they were playing poorly. Winning in style was everything.
Jose Mourinho's appointment is a bit of a surprise because his teams tend to be defensively minded too. His style may differ from Van Gaal but the end result is often similar - you get cautious, intense midfield play, the idea being to wear the opposition down with possession, hard work and mean defending.
Will Mourinho gain the trust of the fans with this cautious approach? A recent defeat in the Manchester derby has not gone down well in the red half of Manchester!
Time will tell of course, but Mourinho is already facing unprecedented pressure - don't forget the near collapse of Chelsea recently, under his leadership! The next 6 matches will be crucial.
Premier League Encounters - Statistics
Premier League Record
Liverpool at Anfield
P21 W7 D4 L10
Goals For 30 Against 29
Manchester Utd at Old Trafford
P20 W12 D 4 L 4
Goals For 32 Against 18
Win or Lose?
Who Will Win By What Score The Next Match Between Manchester Utd and Liverpool
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© 2013 Andrew Spacey