For die hard United fans heading into 2015, which is the bigger game? United v Liverpool or United v City?
Without doubt, with City’s bottomless bank account, and their two Premier League titles in the past 3 years, they are a major rival and a threat to our supremacy. No true United fan can deny that the games with City mean a lot more to us now than they did in the 80s, 90s and noughties.
However, the rivalry with Liverpool goes back decades. In fact, it goes back to the building of the Manchester Ship Canal, making Manchester a major port and taking jobs away from Liverpool, which did not go down well 35 miles down the East Lancs Road. United and Liverpool have been England’s two most successful clubs by far, as well as making an impact in Europe’s elite club competitions. Both sets of fans feel this long-running rivalry with passion, and at times there is a sense of complete mutual contempt. But deep down, the fans from both camps have great, if grudging, respect for the other club.
Last season, Liverpool played some great football. As a United red through and through, I always wanted them to lose, but I have to admit that I enjoyed watching them play. The highlight of the season though was seeing Gerrard slip in that vital game against Chelsea. Whilst that basically handed the title to City, that had to be a better outcome than Liverpool moving one off our total of 20 Premier League trophies.
The Liverpool fans hadn’t had it so good for 22 years – they were doing well and we were having a disastrous time under the one and only David Moyes. The fans got caught up in the notion that United would be on a long term slide, and they were about to usurp us after 20 years of dominance. Of course, they celebrated way too early; within 12 months we’re smiling again, and it’s looking rather like Brendan Rodgers is the new David Moyes. We shouldn’t get ahead of ourselves, but who could fail to enjoy seeing Liverpool crash out at the first hurdle in the Champions League?
Liverpool certainly look to have some major problems, and hopefully we can take full advantage of the situation on Sunday at Old Trafford. It will be interesting to see who lines up for United – Di Maria and Smalling have been ruled out, but I would love to see Falcao start, as I believe he could run Liverpool’s poor back line ragged. The main danger to us is undoubtedly Raheem Sterling with his pace, so I am confident LVG will be looking at who he will play to keep him quiet tomorrow afternoon. We will also need to be careful of giving away free kicks within Gerrard range, as he is still a great danger from just outside the box, and an inspirational leader for our great rivals .
I have been getting myself geared up for this game all week, even longer. I can’t wait and believe United will win the day 2 or maybe 3 nil. I feel more anticipation for this game than I do for the City match, and that gut-wrenching feeling when we lose to them is definitely worse than losing to City.