Fergie is Right: Nothing Compares to Man United/LiverpoolBy: Rob | September 18th, 2010
There is a disarmingly friendly air around the build up to tomorrow’s clash between Man United and Liverpool at Old Trafford, with Sir Alex Ferguson and Roy Hodgson exchanging pleasantries, the two good friends taking to the dugouts of the two biggest teams in the land, for the biggest fixture in the land.
Its a big change from when Rafa Benitez was Liverpool manager, his relationship with Fergie was far more strained. Make no mistake though, the two will put their friendship on hold, and on the pitch, and in the stands, there will only be acrimony. It is the biggest fixture of the season – similar to El Classico or the Derby d’Italia.
It doesn’t matter how either side is doing – which is fortunate, as both sides have been all over the place. Man United are coming off the back of a collapse against Everton last week, and a draw with Rangers midweek in the Champions League, while Liverpool’s Jekyll and Hyde performances have seen a struggle to get a point against Birmingham, followed by a 4-1 win in midweek.
Fergie has said that this fixture is “the one” and that no English fixture compares to it, and he’s right. In the playgrounds at school everyone had a team, and also cheered on either Man United or Liverpool when the sides met. The preference might change for whatever reason, but most supporters will want one side or the other to win, regardless of how their team is doing on Sunday.
I’ve written before on the history of the derby, and a couple of years ago I said the striking thing about the two sides is the similarities. The Working Class, Anglo-Irish, Industrial, rich in culture, rich in football success similarities. This year in particular, the similarities seem particularly pertinent.
Both clubs are currently owned by Americans, but not the fun kind. Both clubs have been saddled with the debts of their clubs owners and while Man United supporters wear Green and Gold to defy the club’s ownership, Liverpool are currently in a power struggle, with the owners effectively being told to get the hell out, but with Hicks in particular desperate to cling on.
Both clubs have worries about their future on the field as well. There has been a weird feeling over the last couple of years, that the “Man United Era” of the Premier League might be beginning to wind down. They’ve been such a dominent force over the last 20 years that it genuinely is hard to imagine, but the immediate future doesn’t look quite as bright as the immediate past.
Last season was a disaster for Liverpool fans, and with the rise of Manchester City and Spurs, has raised plenty of questions about Liverpool’s status as a member of the Big Four. I think the “Big Four” will always be Man United/Chelsea/Arsenal/Liverpool, but the Big Four won’t always be the sides in the Champions League.
All of this makes the early-season derby more fascinating. Both sides could use a win as a real jolt towards the top. Its impossible to overstate how much the fixture means to both clubs, and winning for either side will be a massive boost over the coming weeks.
Fernando Torres, who has been struggling for form a little, surely must be looking forward to this game more than most. He has a great record against Man United, and if anything can boost his season back up to becoming the talisman Liverpool need him to be, a goal or two against United, at Old Trafford would surely do it.
Similarly, Wayne Rooney has gone through a well publicised rough spell. For an ex-Everton player as well, to score the winner against Liverpool would surely be the result he needs. He’s going to come in for a lot of abuse from the crowd I’m sure, and it’ll be interesting to see how he reacts.
I honestly can’t wait, it is going to be absolutely huge.