As a Liverpool fan who has lived in Manchester for over 20 years this season has been a fascinating one to watch. I am not blessed with numerous likeminded fans around me, and quite often get involved with the banter that is generated by our wonderful club and those down the wrong end of the M62. This season has seen the volume turned up massively though and as we head towards the business end of the season, here is my take on the reaction of the fans in Manchester about Liverpool FC;
Backed by the money from Abu Dhabi, City have grown steadily over the past 10 years. In all fairness, City were obsessed with winning the league initially, and having done that in dramatic fashion they have easily been the best side in Manchester since.
The City rivalry began in Liverpool when Sterling passed up on the chance to stay with Liverpool and in our eyes headed up the M62 to earn more money. He is still viewed upon by Liverpool fans as a turncoat. Since then though, Liverpool’s influence and team has grown steadily and has done so mainly under the leadership of Klopp. Our progress has been marked, and so much so that when we were drawn against City in last years QF of the Champions league, most City fans admitted we were the team they didn’t want to be drawn against. That first game was the turning point as Liverpool blew City away 3-0 with a 20-minute blitz where City simply couldn’t live with us. In the aftermath, City fans were very vocal about our pre-match supposed intimation when their team bus was targeted and also lamented that it would have been a different story had VAR been in place. After the events of this week, I did smile at the irony.
This season has seen Liverpool and City go toe to toe in the title race and their fans have carried forward that bitterness towards us. A lot of City fans labelled our league clashes this season as the games they looked forward to most. They almost seemed shocked when I say that actually it is the Utd and Everton games I look out for first when the fixtures are released. Maybe that is a sign of our history and their lack of.
As the season has progressed, City fans have revelled in the singing of their reworded ‘Allez Allez’ chant, and have been vocal in their disbelief of our ‘luck’. They have accused Salah of diving and think there is a goalkeeping conspiracy working in favour of the Reds as in their eyes Speroni, Pickford and Lloris amongst others have all handed us points. I have had pleasure in reminding them that they too had a spot of luck with the refereeing decisions against Swansea as an example, had some offside goals given that tuned games and also have seen Sterling, Jesus and Bernardo Silva blatantly dive.
Ultimately, City fans see us as their biggest rivals currently. They talk about Liverpool constantly and are obsessed by our luck. Maybe, just maybe we have got under their skin.
On the other side of Manchester, United have had an awful season in their eyes. Until of course Ole arrived. United fans have really felt the impetus and seen the progress under his stewardship and results against Spurs and PSG in particular gave them hope. Unfortunately, you can’t continue to win football games on a ‘feel good factor’ and United have fell short recently.
They have been left with the horrible scenario of City or Liverpool winning the league. Even Gary Neville has been talking about it and the smile on Carragher’s face when he does so, indicates a man who is loving watching his colleague squirm. And that is what United fans are doing, they are squirming. They are hating every minute. One fan said to me, ‘Asking me if I prefer City or Liverpool to win the league is like asking me if I would prefer having my legs or arms cut off,…I wouldn’t want either’.
Six weeks ago, United fans were convinced they would get a top 4 slot and even spoke about ‘throwing’ the game against City if it meant stopping Liverpool getting a first title in 29 years. Results have gone against them recently and that game has become a must win for them now. The fact that in helping themselves could result in handing us the title is the worst possible scenario for them. We on the other hand are looking at that fixture as the key one in City’s title run in.
Some United fans I know have actually said they will leave the country if we win the league because we will be unbearable. When faced with comments like these I smile, and ask the question,..’why wouldn’t we celebrate? Should we gently applaud instead? Of course we are going to be unbearable, but we won’t be doing it to wind them up, we will be celebrating a footballing side we haven’t seen the likes of in decades. A football team that is going head to head with another really good side, and a football team that we are proud to call our own. A football team that is quite simply better than the one Utd have.
Whatever the next few weeks bring; one thing is clear. Jurgen Klopp and his magnificent side have got under the skin of both City and United. And we have done that because of the team we have and the passion we show as fans. We don’t need free plastic flags, and we don’t need to sing about our rivals because we have our players and team to sing about. Our passion and our positivity are driven by the simple fact that we have a team that Jurgen would say is ‘boss’ right now, and we should enjoy every minute.