Saturday’s match-up is considered one of the biggest rivalries in the world.
This Saturday Manchester United host long-time rivals Liverpool FC for their first game back from international break. The rivalry has gone on through the leagues and decades for a multitude of reasons from historical decisions to geographic proximity. Pele contrasted the match between the two English sides as “similar to El Clásico between Real Madrid and Barcelona.”
One of the biggest historical reasons for the rivalry is both Manchester United and Liverpool were bustling city centers in the English Northwest. Manchester was famous for its powerful industry while Liverpool was highly regarded for its port. Eventually Manchester would construct its own canal, and when finished in 1984, the Manchester Ship Canal allowed ships to entirely bypass Liverpool. The new avenue caused Liverpool merchants to lose jobs which incited the local hatred of Manchester. The rivalry doesn’t stop at the hometown supporters though, throughout the years players on the opposing sides have kept the tradition alive as well.
Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard has a display of soccer jerseys from every opposing club in his house. The exchange is shown as a sign of respect after matches, but when asked about the absence of a Manchester United jersey Gerrard won’t hesitate to tell you that he’s doesn’t have any because he doesn’t want them in his house. Manchester United Captain and striker Wayne Rooney still recalls growing up despising the Reds which may incentivize him to open his scoring account this weekend. Red Devil fans would be enthralled to see another hat-trick, and the stats book reassures their hopes.
Traditionally the side hosting side comes away with the victory as Liverpool has 39 victories and 19 draws out of 82 contests at Anfield while Manchester United has 41 wins and 25 draws out of 82 hostings at Old Tafford. Home field advantage forecasts good news for Van Gaal and his men going into the weekend, but expect the crowd to be wild and full of supporters from both sides.
After all, with only thirty two miles separating the two teams both should feel right at home.