Liverpool FC & It’s Ugly Cousin Manchester United FC
OPPOSITES ATTRACT or so they say, possibly then one of the main reasons why there is so much hate and disrespect between these great institutions & football teams. If we look past the fact that they are huge enemies and such close rivals, with a rarely used open mind, or open eyes, the real truth may be hidden elsewhere, but not so decrypted that it can’t be found.
Due to the close proximity of both Cities & both teams footballing success’s the ferocity of each support against its local rival began in the 1960’s. I believe the rivalry started to gain momentum on 21st May 1977 when both clubs were to cross swords in an epic F.A Cup Final which United would go on to win 2-1, with Liverpool having already secured the League Championship and famously four days later would also bring home the first of their European Cup success’s emulating a similar success that Manchester United had achieved in 1968. From this moment and subsequently for the next 12 years Liverpool Football Club was to dominate its rival and the whole of Europe, and possibly in a manner that has not been replicated so formidably since.
Manchester United would however wrestle away the stranglehold that Liverpool had gained; when in 1993 they would once again collect the coveted League Championship, their first success since 1967, they would add a further 11 titles over the interim years, while all the time its cousins would continue to have a less inspired time with no League Championships.
OTHELLO SYNDROME which is a kind of morbid jealousy is a condition that both clubs could be diagnosed with during their respective periods of limited success, certainly whilst one cousin was getting the upper hand and filling its trophy cabinet with silver. Although both clubs are the most successful in British Football history, they have very rarely shared those moments of triumph, where a period of dominance has occurred for one protagonist, ultimately the other has suffered through a draught, whilst Liverpool suffer a recession United would invariably be in expansion or boom, and the opposite most definitely happening during Liverpool’s boom time of the late 1970’s and throughout the 1980’s
So why are they so closely related, if they were to patronise Jeremy Kyle with a drop of their blood most certainly the DNA test would come back positive, and they would find a long-lost relative, with some the horrible confirmation that they had in fact been Sleeping With The Enemy.
So let’s take a look at the family tree, it always amazes me when I talk to younger fans and some not so young of both clubs about the great history of the teams & institutions they pertain to support with a religious fever, that they possess little understanding of how the bricks & mortar of the clubs were put together.
Sir Matt Busby was Manchester United’s legendary Scottish Manager winning their first European Cup and building the foundations and making United into not just a British institute but a World institute, but what a lot of fans forget about Matt Busby is the fact he played for Liverpool from 1936 for three seasons making 125 appearances for the other Reds. Sir Matt may have been the greatest Manager Liverpool never had, having been offered the job of Assistant Manager to George Kay, an offer he turned down!
Bill Shankly is credited with building “The bastion of invincibility “that was to be the foundation of both Liverpool Football Club and the father of its fans, a man of the people Liverpool people.
Both Shankly and Sir Matt were socialists and as such they had a huge respect in Footballing terms, Shankly only ever had Football friends, they respected each other, and never would they have been disrespectful of either personnel or their respective clubs.
The Scottish connection is also in both clubs DNA for United we have Busby, Docherty and Alex Ferguson whilst further up the East Lancs road we find Shankly, and Dalglish, and that is not to mention the various Scottish heroes who would also play for both clubs.
Both clubs have suffered depression and dark days, moments when the support has been tested, moments when disaster has struck, moments of true sadness when death has been thrust toward its gates a forlornness, Manchester United with the Munich Air disaster and Liverpool with the Hillsborough Stadium disaster, where both supporters and club were tested to its very core and at times its limits.
Recently both United & Liverpool have played the game of Cowboys and Indians, when the need to surround the wagons of American owners, blocking them in to the ends of showing them the exit gate, they have both had huge increase in ticket prices thrust upon them in the name of commercialism and profit protection, the fans actual opinion has been diluted by big business, the big corporate con has been used on both clubs, success may hide a thousand wrong doings, but the true football supporter will only travel so far down a dark road paved with gold, before he sees he is actually being blinded by its glare. United more than Liverpool at this moment have been blinded more, where at Liverpool time will tell, the recent interferences of American owners and shirt sponsors is not a good sign, not that the owners should not lead, but how they do this and how it is fed to be consumed.
The recent history of both is actually quite symmetrical in terms of what each has to offer for one-upmanship, Liverpool will forever go on about one night in Istanbul when the World was rocked, 3 nil down to A.C. Milan at half-time in The European Champions League Final, the rest being HISTORY a comeback to then win the Trophy on penalties, a true historical moment. Manchester United however had already encountered their own Istanbul May 26th 1999 The Camp Nou in Barcelona, United were to play Bayern Munich in The Champions League Final, and they would trail the Germans from the 6th minute until the 90th when amazingly they would score two goals in 4 minutes to snatch the Trophy.
The realisation that no longer are they just Football clubs, that we are just Football supporters, Fans, battle hardened warriors in the pursuit of fighting our clubs, no we are now A BRAND and a brand which may just have missing ingredient, passion, individuality and lately those two brands have lacked integrity and honesty.
We have to ask ourselves how would our forefathers have acted recently, it is said the game has changed it has moved on, with technology and money beyond its wildest nightmares infesting the game, what would Sir Matt Busby have to say and how would he convey it, and what of Bill Shankly possibly a few quotes but without hate filled rhetoric perhaps.
Recently both clubs had the opportunity to lord it over its new hate figures, swap Cantona with Rooney, swap Fowler with Suarez, it will continue and why not, is there really anything wrong with as Kenny Dalglish says “Good banter” I can’t suggest they will never have respect even begrudgingly, but what they do need to recognise is traits in each other, we may not have the same mothers & father’s but ultimately we may be Cousins.
Both need to offer their hand and have it shaken vigorously, and think next time about the songs you sing toward your sworn enemy, how would your cousin feel, how do you feel.
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