LFC Talk

Liverpool or United: Just who is obsessed with who? by lfctalk
February 18, 2009, 13:11
Filed under: Opinion

Just which club is obsessed with the other…is it us or is it United?

Now we’re finally in a title race, unsurprisingly against them, they appear to be doing a hell of a lot more talking about us than in recent years. Is this a sign of concern that we might stop them matching our record? A record that their very own manager appears hellbent on matching, along with our haul of European Cups too. So is that where it all comes from?

Rafa Benitez earlier this season went on record as saying he believed Alex Ferguson and his team had an unfair advantage. This was subsequently labelled a ‘rant’ by United fans along with several sections of the media. I think they should probably have a closer look at the definition of that word:

‘rant’ – to speak or declaim extravagantly or violently; talk in a wild or vehement way; rave: The demagogue ranted for hours.

The fact (a word long attached to this situation) of the matter is that Benitez’s press conference that day was a long way from being a ‘rant’. The Spaniard walked into that press conference with a pre-written document that outlined several circumstances whereby Alex Ferguson had walked away punishment free, where others would’ve surely been punished.

Mind-games? No. Definitely not. As our manager said, it was too soon in the season for that and also not strictly our managers style – subsequent outbursts appear to have confirmed that!

But is all this the result of a mutual obsession? Is Benitez becoming obsessed with toppling United? I’d say not. He may not have tasted victory over United until this season, in the league, but he never appeared to become distracted by that stumbling block. He seems to just want to beat everyone, which is certainly in keeping with Bill Shankly’s ethos that this club was built upon.

If you’re looking for obsession from either camp, the top candidate is certainly Alex Ferguson. Throughout his time at the Old Trafford helm he has made it clear that he wishes to overhaul Liverpool’s trophy haul in terms of championships and European Cups. It seems to be all that stands between him and retirement. He also claimed to have “knocked Liverpool off their fucking perch”. Although an inaccurate statement, given that he didn’t actually knock anyone off “their perch”, it goes to show the respect he originally had for our club and also how highly he wishes to place his club above it.

Their fans have also become determined to overhaul our position as the most successful club in England. Thanks to sixteen years of concentrated and concerted success, they feel they have a right to be called that, but history will always dictate and we remain top of the pile thanks to 20 years of winning trophies under Shankly, Paisley, Fagan and Dalglish. On an aside, it stands as a great testament to the efforts of those managers and their teams of the 60s, 70s and 80s that their achievements still keep us as the most successful club in the land. Despite the mass haul of trophies that Ferguson and his sides have won, they remain behind us. It must really grate on them.

But while it is easy to point at United and say that they are the one’s obsessed, our fans can also be viewed in the same way.

Since 1992-93, Manchester United have won ten titles and have been watched enviously by Liverpool supporters old and new. Fans of many clubs have agreed that the monopoly has become boring and dull, which you would think would lead them to back us in this season’s title race, but it seems the knives are out for us. I can’t answer why that is other than presuming that the majority of people are happy to be herded like sheep.

That dominance of Manchester United has stirred a great amount of envy and resentment in equal measure from Anfield (and also Highbury/The Emirates). An entire generation of Liverpool supporters has no idea what it is like to see their club win the title, which is a tragedy given the history and passion of this great club. Fortunately for me, I caught the tail end of our success in the mid to late 80s, but I didn’t quite catch our last European Cup in 1984 – fortunately Istanbul came along – and how!!

The burning issue with these two clubs is that they have more in common that they’d probably like to admit. Each has a unerring desire and determination to sit at the top of the tree in English and European football. Each comes from an industrial area of northern England and has the extra pressure of city rivalry to add spice (as if it were needed) to the stand-off. Both sides wear the red shirt and claim the colour as their own. The public and private workings of the clubs have often been mirrored by the other, until recent years.

Who is the more obsessed club is hard to gauge, but despite looking at recent comments from the managers, it is abundantly clear that Ferguson is the more interested by the other’s club.


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