The rivalry between football clubs Liverpool and Manchester United, also known as the North West derby, is one of the most significant football battles in British football and world club football in general. Players and fans often view this derby as the most important for both clubs, exceeding even intracity derby against Everton and Manchester City, respectively. Both clubs, located in the North West England region, are the most successful football clubs in the history of English football, winning a total of more than 120 trophies.
The two clubs are the most successful English teams in both domestic and European competitions; and between them they have won 38 league titles, 8 European Cups, 4 UEFA Cups, 4 UEFA Super Cups, 19 FA Cups, 13 League Cups, 1 FIFA Club World Cup, 1 Intercontinental Cup and 36 FA Community Shields.
Matches between them usually take place at noon, British time, due to the huge interest from television, as well as to prevent the appearance of a large number of drunken fans. Veteran Manchester United Ryan Giggs said in an interview that the matches between Liverpool and Manchester United are “the most famous games in English football.” Pele believes that the matches between Liverpool and Manchester United are not inferior to El Clasico in Spain
This rivalry can be considered as a competition between two cities, which exists since the days of the industrial revolution. In those days, both cities vied for dominance in the north-west of England: Manchester was known for its manufacturing facilities, and Liverpool for its port . After the construction of the Manchester shipping canal, ships could sail around Liverpool and transport goods directly to Manchester. The coat of arms of Manchester United and Manchester City depicts a ship in the shipping channel of Manchester. Since then, both cities have been in decline for a long time, but recently they have been actively developing. Of recent events for Manchester, the Commonwealth Games in 2002 could be noted, and Liverpool was elected the European Capital of Culture in 2008.
Both teams are called “England’s greatest football clubs”: Liverpool won a total of 59 trophies, and Manchester United 66 trophies. Liverpool dominated England in the 1970s and 1980s, winning 11 championship titles of the First Division and 4 European Championships during this period, including winning the “required” (First Division, Football League Cup and European Cup) in 1984 year Manchester United was the most successful English team in the 1990s and 2000s, winning 11 league titles, 2 “doubles”, 1 “requirements” in this period (winning the Champions League, Premier League and FA Cup) in 1999 and the European Double (winning the Premier League and Champions League) in 2008. Both teams are also the most successful clubs in England in European competitions: Liverpool won the European Cup 5 times, and Manchester United 3 times.
In addition to rivalry on the football field, Manchester United and Liverpool are also the most profitable English clubs (in the income rating of football clubs).
Both clubs also have the largest army of fans, both in England and around the world.
The rivalry between the clubs is so fundamental that, after the transfer of Phil Chiznall in 1964 from United to Liverpool, no other player went directly to the competing team. Several players, however, were able to play for both clubs, but not by direct transfer, but speaking in between other teams: for example, Paul Ince (played for Inter), Peter Beardsley (Vancouver Whitecaps and Newcastle United) and Michael Owen (Real Madrid, Newcastle United).
In 2007, there was information about a possible transfer of Gabriel Heinze from United to Liverpool, but the management of United imposed a ban on negotiations between the Argentine defender and the competing club. Heinz was allowed to go only to a club not from England. After that, Heinze moved to Real Madrid.
The rivalry between the fans of both teams is one of the most violent in England. Stuart Maconi compared it in intensity with the Sicilian vendetta.
With the rise of football hooliganism in England in the 1970s – 1980s, during the confrontations of the two clubs between the fans, incidents related to hooliganism and violence often occurred. Nowadays, thanks to the well-organized organization of matches and the help of the police, skirmishes between fans on match days are much less frequent. At the same time, the rivalry continues to be fierce, although mostly without physical violence: for example, during the matches some small groups of fans of both clubs sing chants insulting the memory of those killed in Munich and at the Hillsboro stadium, which is condemned by both the clubs themselves and large unions fans.
In 1976, a famous photo of a Manchester United fan appeared in the newspapers in a dart in the nose, which is taken from Anfield. In 1986, someone threw a brick on a bus with the players of Manchester United, who arrived at Enfield for the match between two teams on February 9. The brick hit the window next to which Mark Hughes sat. When the Manchester United players got off the bus and headed to the locker room at Anfield, unknown people sprayed some gas towards them (assuming it was ammonia). In this attack suffered 22 fans, including children; some of them were taken to hospital. United head coach Ron Atkinson remarked on the trip to Anfield: “It was worse than Vietnam.” On the day of gifts in 1986, Manchester United again played on Anfield against Liverpool. At that time, United’s head coach was Alex Ferguson. This time, in order to avoid a repetition of the incident, like a gas attack in February of the same year, the legendary Liverpool coach Bob Paisley accompanied the team of Manchester United in their club bus.
After the final of the 1996 FA Cup match, one of the Liverpool fans spat at Eric Canton and attempted to hit Alex Ferguson at a time when Manchester United players climbed the Wembley Stadium steps to get the cup from the Duchess of Kent.
On February 18, 2006, during the match of the fifth round of the FA Cup, Manchester United player Alan Smith received a severe leg fracture. The ambulance carrying Smith got stuck in a traffic jam and was attacked by Liverpool fans, who threw beer glasses, bottles, and stones at her and shook her, trying to turn her around. The leadership of both clubs made a joint statement condemning the actions of the attackers: “These people are not real football fans. Both clubs believe that the insane actions of several idiots should not cast a shadow on all the efforts that were directed to ensure that Alan received the best medical care as soon as possible. ” Also in that match, fans of Liverpool on the podium of Enfield Road threw United fans, food and paper cups, which had human excrement, in the direction of United fans. In March 2006, the leadership of Liverpool acknowledged these facts and offered official apologies for the behavior of their fans.
Also in 2006, during the semi-final match of the FA Cup, in which Liverpool met Chelsea at Old Trafford, fans of Liverpool were vandalized, including tearing out the seats in the stadium and drawing graffiti praising the serial killer Harold Shipman.
In March 2016, on the eve of the match between Liverpool and Manchester United in the European League at Enfield, fans of Liverpool posted a banner with an offensive inscription to fans of United over the M62 highway on the way from Manchester to Liverpool. After the banner became known on social networks, local police officers quickly removed it. Before the return game at Old Trafford over the M62 highway on the way from Liverpool to Manchester in the Salford area, the Murderers banner appeared and with the date of the tragedy at Hillsboro. During the match and after it, clashes occurred between the fans of the two clubs. The clashes were provoked by the Liverpool fans, who made their way into the United sector of fans, and deployed their banner there. In addition, from the guest sector with fans of “Liverpool” heard chants with references to the tragedy in Munich. It was noted that part of the Manchester United fans used in their repertoire chants with a reference to the tragedy on Hillsboro. Liverpool fans also ripped out and threw seats in the stadium. After the match, UEFA fined both clubs for hurling objects at the stadium and riots, as well as for “illegal” chants of fans of both teams.