Of all of the rivalries in the history of football, many fans of the beautiful game would have to say that the North West Derby between Manchester United and Liverpool is one of the most iconic.
This fixture is certainly Liverpool’s biggest rivalry as well as the one game that United fans look for on the calendar each season despite the growth of Manchester City across the Manchester region.
Throughout this blog post, we are going to be discussing some of the best games played between these two teams and the history behind this Legendary rivalry.
A very common question that many people seem to not know when living outside of either city is how the great rivalry between the two began. The real answer goes much further than football as the sour feelings between one another began after the construction of the Manchester Ship Canal in 1894.
The merchants living in Manchester were tired of paying the fees related to bringing goods in and out of the city so eventually decided to build their ship canal which was the largest in the world at the time.
Even before this, there was always a rivalry between the two cities as they fought throughout the 18th century and the Industrial Revolution. Despite having nothing to do with football, this rivalry eventually bled through to matches in the forms of chants and banners throughout the next 100+ years from the completion of the ship canal.
Now that we understand the history of the rivalry between Liverpool and Manchester United in general, let’s take a look back at some of the greatest matches between the two football clubs.
The dominance that both clubs have had in English football, Liverpool in the 70s and 80s and United in the 90s and 00s, has simply added fuel to the fire of city rivalry making it one of the fiercest atmospheres to travel to in the sport.
Both clubs won countless league titles and European cups while having some of the best battles in premier league history. With plenty of red cards and antics from players like Luis Suarez and Bruno Fernandes, this fixture is more commonly regarded as a more fierce derby than the Merseyside Derby, otherwise known as the friendly derby.
During a period of dominance for Liverpool, having already won the league this year, it looked almost certain that they would go on to beat United in the final of the FA Cup to reclaim the oldest prize in football - however, it would not turn out to be so easy.
United were the ones who opened the scoring early in the second half through Stuart Pearson with an almost immediate reply from Jimmy Case two minutes later. Even more incredibly United responded again to make it two one two minutes after that!
The game ended 2-1 in favour of United who had managed to knock Liverpool off their perch and was an enthralling affair from start to finish for all that watched it and so had to make this list.
When United came to Anfield in 1988, they found themselves in dire need of 3 points since they were already trailing Kenny Dalglish’s league leaders by 11 points. After a phenomenal start gifted to United by the skipper Brian Robson, Liverpool bounced back brilliantly making it 3-1.
After a well-fought battle from United, they brought it back to 3-2 going into the final few minutes of the game where Gordon Strachan would finally net the equaliser to get back a positive result from what seemed to be a game that was dead and buried.
In a game with the same scoreline as the previous entry but with the game flipped on its head, it’s another brilliant underdog story to add to the list. Going into this game, the Red Devils were enjoying a 17-game unbeaten run and were looking comfortable at the top of the league.
After 25 minutes, United had taken a staggering 3-0 lead as it looked like they were going to demolish a dishevelled Liverpool side who were sitting in 9th place under Graeme Souness before the game. Luckily, their blushes were spared a minute later when Nigel Clough scored and bagged his brace in the 38th minute.
The comeback was completed in the 79th minute when Neil Ruddock managed to slot it past Schmeichel under the pressure of the Anfield crowd.
There are so many iconic images that are related to this completely unexpected win for Liverpool whether it’s Steven Gerrard running over to kiss the camera, Fernando Torres Sliding in front of the fans or Sir Alex Ferguson's disappointment on the sidelines.
One of Liverpool’s greatest performances at Old Trafford came on the 14th of March 2009 when both sides were in fine form but United always seemed the favourites to take home the three points.
With the Premier League title race appearing in United’s favour, Rafa Benitez needed the three points here more than ever, and that is exactly what his side managed to do. Despite not getting over the line and beating United to the title, this surely is one for the history books.
A memory fondly thought of by United fans is the incredible hat-trick scored by Dimitar Berbatov at Old Trafford against their greatest rivals. This performance alone is what makes many United fans believe the £30 million price tag for Berbatov was entirely worth it.
Commonly regarded as one of the greatest hat-tricks that the Premier League has ever seen, Berbatov opened the scoring with a brilliant header after a Ryan Giggs corner before scoring an incredible overhead kick to make it 2-0.
Despite a Steven Gerrard brace to equalise, Berbatov got his third from another corner and gave United the three points that they had been needing.
While Liverpool fans could argue that the 4-0 home win later on in the 21/22 season should also be on this list, this first game between the two was simply staggering with the domination that Liverpool showed in front of the Old Trafford faithful.
In recent years the pendulum seems to have swung back in Liverpool’s direction and never has this felt truer than during this game. Throughout the entire game, Liverpool never looked in any danger despite having to oppose players like Paul Pogba and Cristiano Ronaldo.
During the game, Mohamed Salah became the first ever opposition player to score a hat-trick at Old Trafford which is something that Liverpool fans will remember forever and further stamps him in the hearts of Liverpool fans for years to come.
While this is a game that Manchester United fans would much rather forget, it cannot be argued that this is surely one of the most iconic games ever played between these two sides with Liverpool seeming to only stop scoring to spare their own stamina.
Another game that United fans will hate to remember but once again absolutely must be mentioned when discussing iconic matches. Going into this game, Liverpool were in poor form, suffering through one of their worst seasons under Jurgen Klopp and United were better than they had been in years, just beating Liverpool to the Champions League spots so this scoreline was a real surprise.
An incredible performance from a brilliant Liverpool team meant that they swept aside Man United with ease. While this was an excellent result against Liverpool's biggest rivals, there were some frustrations when the consistency could not be retained for much of the season.
There is no doubt that this thrashing had to be mentioned on this list as it is the largest gulf we have ever seen between these two clubs and will live on in the memories of football fans forever when discussing this fixture.