All the great rivalries in English football contain a mixture of proximity, a history beyond football, and a common level of success. It all comes together like no other at North West Derby, Manchester United and Liverpool.
English football has many derbies and competitions. Liverpool – Everton (Merseyside Derby), Arsenal – Tottenham Hotspur (North London Derby), Manchester United – Manchester City (Manchester Derby), and Newcastle – Sunderland (Tine Wear Derby); For example, but not limited.
Although the match between Manchester United and Liverpool is not exactly a domestic derby, the rivalry between the two clubs is very intense due to the proximity of the two cities, only 35 miles from each other. This combined with the fact that Liverpool and Manchester United are considered the most successful football clubs in the history of English football, makes the competition even more intense.
Such was the bitterness between the two teams that since 1964, when Phil Chesnal moved from United to Liverpool, there has been a direct transfer of the player between the two clubs.
In 1986, Manchester United appointed Sir Alex Ferguson as their new manager, and he entered English football with the sole purpose of deposing Liverpool FC as the most successful team in English football to date. Ferguson was quoted as saying “The biggest challenge for me was to hit Liverpool out of the box right away. And you can print that!”
If this quote doesn’t sum up the sharpness, then nothing does.
What is the Northwest Derby?
Liverpool and Manchester are two of the largest population centers in England, crammed into the northwest corner of the country, just above Wales. It’s as if the Northwest isn’t big enough to accommodate both and they are fighting over which one will eventually swallow the other – hence the ‘Northwest Derby’
Although the rivalry started through industrial tensions, football was the main reason for any genuine hatred between the two cities.
Manchester United was the first team to be founded in 1878 as Newton Heath LYR FC and renamed Manchester United FC in 1902. Old Trafford has been Manchester United’s home stadium since 1910.
Liverpool FC was founded in 1892 by John Holding, who was initially a member of Everton FC. Holding bought Anfield from his friend John Orwell in 1892 and asked Everton, who was already playing there, to raise the rent. Everton refused and left Anfield. They went 0.9 miles to build Goodison Park. John Holding was left without a tenant, and therefore decided in 1892 to form a new team. This team was Liverpool FC
On April 28, 1894, the first match was played between the two teams, in the form of a Football League Test match. Liverpool beat Newton Heath 2-0. A year and a half later, on October 12, 1895 in the second division match, Liverpool celebrated the largest victory in the history of their rivalry, to this day, with a 7-1 score. At the end of the season, Liverpool won the league and thus promoted to the First Division.
History of the Northwest Derby
Like a lot of things in England, this goes way back. Three hundred years ago, with the onset of the Industrial Revolution, Manchester had become a huge city, the largest in the north of England and the world capital of the cotton trade. Liverpool, about 30 miles to the west, was smaller but also important as a seaport.
The tension between Liverpool and Manchester first began in the 19th century as an industrial competition. The main reason for the latter was the construction of the Manchester Ship Canal to bypass Liverpool’s financial control of imports and exports. This is why there is a ship at the top of Manchester United.
Until 1894 when the Manchester Ship Canal was completed, Liverpool was the only city in the area with a port. Hence, building one in Manchester, just 35 miles away, had a negative impact on Liverpool’s economy.
But as the importance of industrialization in the north of England declined, so did Manchester, and thus both cities fell on hard times; But this did nothing to quell the hatred. Instead, it was transferred to other arenas such as sports and especially in the football field between Liverpool FC and Manchester United.
United won two league titles before 1911, then none for nearly 40 years. It was only in the 1950s that they began to dominate, with three league titles and two European Cup semi-finals in that decade.
However, the team known as “Busby Babes” to their manager and youth, was in a fatal plane crash in Munich in 1958; Eight players and three employees were killed. It took five years to rebuild from then on, but in the 1960s United won two more league titles, the FA Cup again, and in 1968 became the first English team to be crowned European champions.
Meanwhile, Liverpool had a somewhat similar story: they won the league twice in the 2000s, another in 1922, and a fourth in 1947. But in 1959, as a second-tier club, they appointed Bill Shankly as their manager. Liverpool started with the league title in 1964, succeeded by his assistants Bob Paisley and Joe Fagan, and then Kenny Dalglish, to dominate English football. From 1972 to 1990, they finished first or second in the league in all but one season, winning it 11 times. In the same period, they also won the European Championship four times.
It is fair to say that in the 1960s the rivalry between Liverpool and Manchester United became what it is today. But Manchester United collapsed in the seventies, already relegated to a season!
Creative matches between Liverpool and Manchester United
With over 200 games to choose from, how does one choose the greatest games in the North West Derby?
1977 FA Cup Final: United 2-1 Liverpool
In 1977, the two teams faced each other in the FA Cup Final for the first time in history. The match was played at Wembley Stadium on May 21, a few days after Liverpool celebrated winning the league.
In addition, four days later on May 25, Liverpool became European champions for the first time in the club’s history. However, although Liverpool were the favorites, Manchester United ended Liverpool’s dreams of the treble with a surprise 2-1 victory. Stewart Pearson and Jimmy Greenhoff scored for United, while Jimmy Case was Liverpool’s top scorer.
1995 Premier League: United 2-2 Liverpool
A great match with two great goals from Liverpool’s Robbie Fowler. But it’s all about Eric Cantona, King of Old Trafford, who returned for this match after an eight-month suspension served for the infamous karate kick for a Crystal Palace fan. The hero replays, sets the first target, and then gets a point at the end. Of course, he did.
2007 Premier League: Liverpool 0-1 United
The one thing you have to see here is the one thing Liverpool fans will never want to see again. He trailed 0-0, United went down to 10 men, a corner kick in front of a cup for United, and of all the great names in the history of these two clubs, this falls to John O’Shea. He looks as surprised as anyone else as he runs the length of the pitch to celebrate first with the United fans and secondly – to get away from the cup!
a Tweet embed Advanced lessons at Old Trafford 👏#MUNLIV pic.twitter.com/znF2eWFCQ4
– Liverpool FC (LFC) August 19, 2022
2009 English Premier League: United 1-4 Liverpool
Liverpool’s biggest away victory at the time in the competition was made famous by Gerrard kissing the camera after a penalty that made him 2-1, and with amazing technique at the end to rule it.
2015 Premier League: Steven Gerrard and the most famous 38 seconds of all time
It’s the first half at Anfield, the game needs something, and that’s how Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard comes in. In less than a minute, he hit two big passes, crushed United’s Juana Mata, and Ander Herrera crushed him, then stamped on Herrera’s leg and was sent off.
Liverpool 9-0 Manchester United: 2021/22 aggregate
The 2021/22 Premier League encounters could be a forgotten one for Manchester United, as Liverpool crushed them not once but twice. These two games were played under different Red Devils managers.
The first leg was held at the Theater of Dreams as Liverpool beat United in their worst defeat ever at Old Trafford. The second leg was no different either, as under Ralf Rangnick United suffered their second biggest defeat against Merseyside FC, both of which came in the same season.
The rivalry between Manchester United and Liverpool has never diminished, because there was a regional rivalry behind it, because of all the trophies they shared, and because a generation or two of fans have grown up with one or both teams at the club. The pinnacle of English and European football.
Now, with Liverpool’s recent success under Jurgen Klopp – European champions in 2019 and league winner in 2020 – and with the appointment of a new Old Trafford manager at Eric ten Hag, fans could witness another decade-long battle between the two clubs.