Liverpool and Manchester City lock horns once again in a highly anticipated fixture, one which could see either the Premier League trophy return to Liverpool or go back to Manchester.
In 2008, Manchester City were purchased by Abu Dhabi United Group for £210 million. Since then The Citizens have received considerable amounts of investment in terms of facilities and on/off-field personnel. They became one of the richest clubs in world sports and have been a mainstay in English football’s top division since Kevin Keegan won the then-2001-02 Division One Championship.
For around a decade now, the blue half of Manchester has been successful in their pursuit of domestic silverware. City have won the Premier League four times since 2011; the FA Cup twice and the League Cup five times.
Since then, they haven’t looked back. They have gone on to achieve a record-breaking 100-point season: a feat no other club in PL history has ever managed to accomplish.
In 2019, City won all four domestic trophies under Pep Guardiola and became the first team to win the domestic treble in doing so.
They are still chasing that elusive Champions League title, but surely it is not too far from grasp… unless they face an in-form Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
And Thus, A Rivalry is Born…
Since the resurgence of Liverpool Football Club under Jurgen Klopp, pundits, fans and ex-players all seem to be creating the narrative that Liverpool vs Man City is the biggest rivalry in English football. In my honest and humble opinion, it is not.
This current rivalry between the two clubs has been brought about because City and Liverpool are the two best teams in England at present. They have been fighting it out for the greatest domestic and European prizes over a time period of around four/five seasons.
That alone is a claim in which could settle this debate. No ‘great rivalry’ can be constructed and moulded in four years.
There are far more historic rivalries for both teams.
Rival Number 1: Manchester United
Liverpool are England’s most successful football club in terms of honours; Manchester United are second (depending on if you count Community Shield wins…)
This rivalry dates back countless years and certainly longer than when City came into the fray in terms of silverware. So, looking at historical rivalries in terms of success and honours (again, rivalries usually date back longer than a decade) it is easy to understand why Liverpool fans and United fans despise the other team winning trophies.
The fight to be England’s most successful football club has never been closer, and United and Liverpool are the two teams which lead the way.
A Rivalry Built on Sustained Success
Liverpool have amassed a total of 19 league titles; United have 20.
The Reds from Merseyside have 6 European/Champions League trophies. The Red Devils from Manchester have 3.
UEFA Cup/Europa League is Liverpool 3: United 1.
In terms of FA Cups: Liverpool 7; United 12.
League Cups: Liverpool 8; United 5. That is a rivalry based on historic success through the decades and centuries.
It is a rivalry based on being the best ever, not by being the best at the moment.
Both teams over the years have also created success; whilst I despise United, I also respect them. Liverpool and Manchester United have not had billions pumped into their clubs to find and fund victory.
Both teams have always had impressive academy graduates and home-grown stars such as Moran, Liddell, Callaghan, Thompson, Carragher, McManaman, Gerrard, Owen, Fowler, Alexander-Arnold; Hughes, Beckham, Giggs, Scholes, Neville, Butt, Rashford, Greenwood. It almost feels a cheat code to just buy the best players in the world and not nurture your own…
Rival Number 2: Everton
In regards to another rival to Liverpool: Everton are the across Stanley Park. Dating back to the very existence of Liverpool Football Club, founded in 1892. The hatred for one another was instantly born due to a dispute between the Everton FC committee and Anfield landowner John Houlding.
Everton eventually moved to Goodison Park, away from rent fees and Houlding went on to found Liverpool FC. It was Houlding’s main priority to be the best team on Merseyside to really twist the knife of his former tenants: as a result, the heated rivalry was untaught and has always existed.
The first game between the two was in 1894 where Everton won 3-0 and they have been locked in a top-flight tug of war ever since. There have been over 230 games between the two, nearly 600 goals and 21 red cards. No other fixture has seen more red cards than this fixture between the Merseyside clubs.
Although it is known as ‘the friendly Derby’ due to supporters sitting next to each other in the stadiums (mostly because they belong to the same family or are great friends) on the pitch is far from it.
Everton are nine-time topflight league winners (3 more than City) and have won the FA Cup five times. The Toffees have battled with the red half of Merseyside ever since their existence. Although they have had a barren run of silverware for nearly two decades, they were the team in the 80’s to push Liverpool in terms of success.
Everton are Liverpool’s local rivals and for a time, their rivals for silverware.
So where do City fit in?
Looking at the head to heads, Liverpool leads the way in wins over City with 105 games, dating back to September 1893 when City were known as Ardwick. That was in League Two where Liverpool triumphed 1-0.
City have won 57 games and the duo have drawn 54. Hardly a close-fought battle since both teams existence.
City are Liverpool’s closest competitors in terms of success in recent seasons, but Chelsea also played that role in the Mourinho vs Benitez era. Personally, I wouldn’t class the Chelsea team and manager now as Liverpool’s big rivals. It was a rivalry built on a few years of success for both teams. Since then, Chelsea have fallen away and that rivalry has been dialled down a fraction.
Perhaps the same could be said for Tottenham Hotspur under Mauricio Pochettino: both teams a few seasons back found themselves fighting for similar positions in the league and Champions League. To emphasise, it was a ‘rivalry’ based on success/similar circumstances. It is not one that will be sustained when the other team falls away.
If United or Everton found themselves too far from Liverpool’s reach, or vice-versa, would the same be said of them? That they are no longer rivals to LFC? Doubtful.
City have no doubt been fantastic; they are mesmerising and was a breath of fresh air for football fans. However, most Liverpool fans found themselves rooting for City in the 2012 season finale and in 2018 where United finished second behind City. Likewise, United and Everton fans last season were praying to any gods who would hear their call for City to topple Liverpool in the title race.
If the choice was between United, Everton or City for the league, most Liverpudlian’s would be wanting Man City to lift the league title.
The games Liverpool fans look out for when the fixture list is released each season, is Manchester United and Everton.
Whilst the rivalry between Klopp and Guardiola has been entertaining and has brought out the best in both teams in recent years, it is not a rivalry which is being hailed as the ‘greatest in English football.’
Tottenham vs Arsenal; Manchester United vs Manchester City; Chelsea vs Millwall; Sunderland vs Newcastle. There are other rivalries in English football which are far bigger.
Liverpool v Man City is the biggest rivalry in English football and has been for the last few years. FACTEx-Manchester City player, Trevor Sinclair
If City and Abu Dhabi fortunes would take a turn for the worst and there were no longer any money for buying the best players the world has to offer, and City sank to the doldrums on which they came from, the Liverpool vs City rivalry would cease to exist.
Similarly, if Liverpool found themselves out of the title picture for successive seasons, the rivalry would draw its last breath.
Rivalries are built on history; they don’t have to be built on envy. They’re built on respect for each other and are born from excellence.
City have been excellent for the better part of a decade, but it dates back no further than that.
Maybe City fans don’t feel Liverpool are big rivals? Perhaps it is just ex-players and pundits trying to stoke a burning fire. Maybe by building City up to the level of Liverpool, United, Arsenal, Everton and Chelsea it portrays Cities history and appeal to the same level of those clubs who have tasted victory over many decades?
Klopp vs Guardiola
There is no doubt that Klopp and Guardiola are the two best managers in the league, maybe the world. Even then, we are not talking about a Ferguson vs Wenger rivalry or a Benitez vs Ferguson or Mourinho vs Wenger.
There has also been some iconic games over the past few years in both League and Champions League, but not really enough for a Greatest Hits LP, more like a first album EP.
I would encourage all football fans to enjoy this rivalry whilst it lasts, because they are two amazing teams with two very gifted coaches. will this rivalry stand the test of time as others mentioned in this article have done? Time is the greatest storyteller.
Let’s not get it wrong: Liverpool vs Manchester City is a monumental game; there is no denying that, but ‘England’s greatest footballing rivalry’?