For years, Manchester City were no threat to us, yet derby day was still the fixture most United fans looked forward to. Fighting it out with your local rivals, knowing anything could happen and form doesn’t matter, playing for pride and bragging rights, is one of the best bits about football. You win the derby and you can go on about it for days. You lose the derby and you have to take the stick that comes your way.
For some reds, the game against Liverpool is the biggest of the season because they see them as our fiercest rivals. When Liverpool won their 18th title, United only had 7 titles to their name, so the jealousy and hatred we felt for them was like nothing else.
The tables have turned now, with United the most successful English club with 19 league titles, although that does little to diminish the rivalry. Decades have gone by since Liverpool were a better team than United, just like City, but that doesn’t dampen our feelings on the day we play them.
Today, ahead of this weekend’s game against Liverpool, Kenny Dalglish and Wayne Rooney have spoken about the match, although they portray completely different attitudes.
“People say this is the biggest game of the season but I don’t look at any game as being big or small,” said Dalglish. “It’s another game, another three points for a win. The only difference this time is the fact that, if we win, we will move a bit closer to them. It’s an opportunity to help yourself and dent their chances at the same time.”
Really? Liverpool vs United is just like any other game for Kenny? What an odd remark to make. Whilst I wouldn’t expect him to admit it’s his cup final, his faux nonchalance is bizarre. This is in contrast to Rooney, who was honest about his feelings on the game.
“With my Everton connections and the fact all my family are big Everton fans, it makes games against Liverpool a bit more special,” said Rooney. “Of course, it’s a big day for United with their rivalry with Liverpool but, for me, it is a massive game. To beat Liverpool is always a great feeling and a great day when you do that.”
The games against Liverpool during the 2008-2009 season were really special because we were both fighting it out for the title. For a change, it wasn’t just about pride, but position in the table, and that really added spice to the games. However, just because Liverpool surrendered their record, don’t play in Europe and will be lucky to finish in the top 6 this season, it doesn’t make me any less eager to see us go to Anfield and try and get a result.
Like Rooney says, it’s a great feeling to beat your rivals. Why pretend otherwise?
Roll on Saturday…