The Manchester United-Liverpool rivalry no longer has relevance

Liam Newman

Red Dead Monday was hardly a surprise. Let’s face it; any showdown will probably fail to deliver between these two fallen giants.

For the past 25 years, Manchester United v Liverpool has been billed as the pinnacle of Premier League football. Is it bollocks!

Ok, seeing Sir Alex Ferguson’s men chip away at Liverpool’s title record was one of the iconic aspects of the nineties and early noughties. But ever since Manchester United cemented their place as top dog, this fixture has been void of any real excitement. And that’s regardless of how far the mainstream broadcasters try to force it down our throats. In truth, I’d argue that it’s never been the ultimate Premier League rivalry.

I’ve no doubt that the rivalry still means everything to the two clubs and their fans. For the neutral, though, it has been lacking in virtually every aspect.

For pure entertainment, Manchester United have produced far better games against alternative rivals Arsenal and Manchester City. Likewise, when you think of exciting Liverpool games, thoughts immediately turn to Newcastle United.

As for other talking points; the Manchester derby had Mario Balotelli, Gary Neville ignoring Peter Schmeichel, and the whole Carlos Tevez affair while the Arsenal rivalry produced the Keane-Vieira fued as well as the famous ‘Battle of the Buffet’. Conversely, the main figure of controversy in the United-Liverpool rivalry has been Michael Owen.

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If that doesn’t scream out boring rivalry, what does?

Ok, the United-Liverpool game has delivered a few memorable performances in recent times, with Dimitar Berbatov and Fernando Torres leading the way on that front. In fairness, Eric Cantona’s return to football was pretty special too. But Sunday’s encounter will be the 50th Premier League meeting between the sides and, with the level of build up the fixture receives every year, casual football fans would be forgiven for thinking it’s better than the Clasico.

It isn’t even close, and there’s one major factor: it’s never carried enough weight. Since it’s inception, Liverpool have only ever looked like winning the title once – and it lasted for all of two weeks before they let the chance slip.

The fact that their best effort came during United’s worst campaign means that the clubs have never gone toe-to-toe for the Premier League crown. Sorry Merseysiders, those dreams of 2008-09 were little more than delusion.

Manchester United and Liverpool are both great clubs that have provided ample entertainment over the years. When it comes to the head-to-head battle, though, the result has often been well short of the promised goods.

If you are a fan of either side, then it’s still the game that you want to win most. That’s fine. But, quite frankly, history is the only standout feature for the neutral.

Give me a Manchester derby any day…

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