Manchester United v.s Liverpool? Sorry mate Al Ahly v.s Zamalek is on…

You’ve just finished that third and final pint in your local boozer before heading off into the afternoon sunshine to watch your side take on your biggest rival. In England, it doesn’t come much bigger than Manchester United v.s Liverpool for sheer passion, hatred and high tempo football match. So it did come as a surprise that the Manchester United v.s Liverpool derby was only considered the 28th greatest derby in the world by World Soccer magzine, behind the mighty Kaizer Chiefs v.s Orlando Pirates.

Seriously though, how can the United Liverpool match be ranked at 28th in the world? I’ve never seen such a hostile environment which is driven by the desire to be considered the best team in the land. Of course hatred doesn’t just make a derby exciting to watch; you need to have the whole package – which does include history. Historical statistics provide an insightful view into the understanding of what it means to win a match against Liverpool. The two clubs have contested 175 football matches to date, the first being a 2-0 defeat in 1894 – when United were known as Newton Heath. Since that game, United have won 68 of those 175 games whilst Liverpool have won 57 – a statistics that summarises the record Manchester United had over Liverpool in the 1980’s when Liverpool were at their most powerful. So its clear to see how much this game means to the fans in terms of tradition and historical value, then there is the bragging rights.

There is no doubt which set of fans can claim to be the best football team in Europe at the moment, although when this is brought up the Scouse cry’s of “18-5″ ring out. To be honest, this isn’t a post about comparing triumphs (or past triumphs in Liverpool’s case), it is merely looking at the history of achievements to add weight to the fact that this derby should be much higher than 28th. Manchester United, three times European Cup winners and the first English side to lift trophy against Liverpool the five times European Cup winners. Add the domestic success and you can see clearly how successful both sides are. The article comments on Ferguson’s loathing for Liverpool but also his respect for them in terms of European achievements.

So looking up the list, a task that Liverpool fans should find quite familiar, you see a wide range of games spanning from all over the world. Now, this is not a narrow minded view to not accept the quality, history and tradition behind other big derbies. Of course they mean a lot to their fans and of course there is wide spread interest in the football world when these matches are played – but my argument is that United against Liverpool should be much higher than 28th. Barcelona v.s Real Madrid is ranked the greatest derby in the world, followed by River against Boca and then predictably Celtic v.s Rangers. To be honest, I wouldn’t disagree with either of those choices. Barcelona v.s Real Madrid is a massive, massive game that is watched by millions throughout the world. Two top footballing clubs that offer some of the greatest players in the world, is only one aspect that makes this game fascinating. No other game in Europe mixes both politics and football to such an extent as these two. Barcelona – the oppressed Catalonians against the centralism ruling of Franco’s Real Madrid. I won’t dwell too much on this as there really is just too much to cover – but the documentaries i’ve seen on the history of these two clubs is quite extraordinary. The conspiracy theories of refs favouring Madrid, the transfer saga of Di Stefano and the rivalry that even involved the Spanish civil war that started in 1936. The second in the list, Di Stefano’s old club River Plate and Maradona’s Boca, is again a fascinating football spectacle that battles the working class Boca Juniors and slightly stuffy River Plate. The first official game played was in 1908 – across the dockyard apparently. Boca have always had the aura of ‘working class boy done good’ with outstanding players over the years such as our very own Carlos Tevez, Diego Maradona , Claudio Caniggia, Gabriel Batistuta (having played for both River and Boca) and Juan Román Riquelme. River Plate, who have always been referred to as the better footballing side, constantly mock Boca in terms of achievements (River lead by 33 to 22) and Boca immigrant roots. Lastly, the Celtic v.s Rangers match that whether the Old firm like it or not remains inexorably linked to Northern Ireland politics. Whenever religion is involved there is always going to be fireworks and there are similarities with the Barca Madrid matches with one side showing loyalty to the nation and another’s struggle with oppression. I would not argue with WS about the top three.
Below is the list above Manchester United v.s Liverpool and I have highlighted the games in which I believe should not be higher:

1. Real Madrid vs Barcelona (Spain)
2. Boca Juniors vs River Plate (Argentina)
3. Celtic vs Rangers (Scotland)
4. Galatasaray vs Fenerbahce (Turkey)
5. Ajax vs Feyenoord (Netherlands)
6. Lazio vs Roma (Italy)
7. Shalke vs Borussia Dortmund (Germany)
8. Al Ahly vs Zamalek (Egypt)
9. Betis vs Sevilla (Spain)
10. Partizan Belgrade vs Red Star Belgrade (Serbia)
11. Marseille vs Paris St. Germain (France)
12. Juventus vs Fiorentina (Italy)
13. Flamengo vs Vasco da Gama (Brazil)
14. Olympiacos vs Panathanaikos (Greece)
15. Milan vs Internazionale (Italy)
16. Athletic Bilbao vs Real Sociedad (Spain)
17. Benfica vs Porto (Portugal)
18. Coirinthians vs Sao Paulo (Brazil)
19. Racing Club vs Independiente (Argentina)
20. America vs Guadalajara (Mexico)
21. Nacional vs Penarol (Uruguay)
22. Pirouzi vs Esteghlal (Iran)

23. Spartak Moscow vs CSKA Moscow (Russia)
24. Steaua Bucharest vs Dinamo Bucharest (Romania)
25. Kaizer Chiefs vs Orlando Pirates (South Africa)
26. Slave Prague vs Sparta Prague (Czech Republic)

27. Corinthians vs Santos (Brazil)
28. Liverpool vs Manchester United (England)

I do believe that more weight should be placed on games that are played in Europe and South America. Some people may find that quite arrogant but when assessing the history and tradition of football you see how important Europe and South America are to the development of the game. As mentioned before historical achievements in quality tournaments is also a bench mark – so therefore the Champions League and Libertadores Cup are head and shoulders above any Asia or North American competition. For these reasons, I find it hard to see why the game is not ranked higher. A lot of discussion on the forums and blogs have suggested that the game should not even be included due to the fact that the game doesn’t constitute to a derby because both clubs are not from the same city. A derby is a game in which two teams from a specific area play rather than a specific city. Liverpool and Manchester are 33 miles apart – from Sir Matt Busby Way to Anfield Road – and rivalry is fierce between the two cities. So this factor doesn’t really come into it.

So to conclude, the game should be ranked higher than it currently is. 28th position slightly belittles the match and placing the Cairo derby in 9th is hard to believe. We all think our club is the best in the world and we’re all proud to belong to the club, but this isn’t a argument to promote how great Manchester United is. It’s a argument to state that the Manchester United v.s Liverpool rivalry should be considered one of the most fierce and passionate games in the world. It may not have the political mashup of Barca and Madrid or the battle of the classes like Boca and River but in terms of history, tradition, achievements and standard of football – the game should be ranked much higher.

So what do you think? Make sure to leave a comment if you disagree or agree with the argument. Am I naively writing off these games? Should I experience these games live before commenting on the derbies?

Boca and River, Manchester United and Liverpool? Bollocks to that we’re off to Cairo.

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15 Responses to “Manchester United v.s Liverpool? Sorry mate Al Ahly v.s Zamalek is on…”

  1. Danny says:

    To be honest if you’re grading them on crowd atmosphere and agression alone then Fenerbahce v Galatasaray should be higher. If there’s anything i’ve learned over the past few years its that Turkish football fans are F***in mental. Similarly Slavia Praha v Sparta Praha.

    Have you got an online link to the full list by the way please?

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  2. Noblelox says:

    As a scouser, as painful as it is, I have to agree with you. As much as the Liverpool – Everton derby is intense for a week or two around the matches themselves, the bickering between the mighty reds and you smacked up manc granny stabbers does fester all year, and needless to say the football can be to a higher standard. So much so that I don’t see how you can put the Glasgow derby above ours. Consider that so much of theirs is just down to stupid religious bigotry, and the quality of football is not even close! There is a purity to the scouse/manc derby, it is just about the football, which is how it should be. So I would go further than you, and demand at least 3rd spot, at least…

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  3. William says:

    Have to agree about the Istanbul derby. My wife’s from there and I have been to Istanbul many times. The intense hatred between Galatasaray fans and Fenerbache is truely remarkable and comparible with anything seen in Madrid/Barcelona, Glasgow or Liverpool/Manchester. As a die hard Liverpool fan myself, I also agree that a rank of 28th in the world for the Liverpool/Man utd games is absurd. My utter loathing of anything Manc is fully typical of the attitude of both sets of fans. That loathing is, admitedly a form of back handed compliments, but certainly should make that match up in the top ten.

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  4. Chris says:

    Sory mate you’re wrong.

    Liverpool v Man U shouldnt even figure it aint a Derby. Our biggest game of the season is against Everton. Not you. It may be a Derby in Manchester but it aint in Liverpool.
    Now your comments about hate and passion I agree with. But it IS NOT a Derby.
    Two wins in a season against Everton are far more important than two wins against you lot…..
    Hell man all you need to know is I hope you beat bitter blues everytime you play em. Admitedly win with six sent off and a few injuries but beat em all the same…..

    YNWA

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  5. yolkie says:

    Top blog mate.

    Worth adding as well that both Liverpool and ourselves have been the most successful in a country that (I believe) has the highest number of professional clubs at a competitive level in world football. So United’s 17 league titles and Liverpool’s 18, combined, is almost a third of the entire history of the competition- remarkable considering there are now 92 league clubs and countless more professional.

    Having said that, despite the above criteria, I wouldn’t argue with Celtic and Rangers being higher placed – that a game of football involves religion is a clear marker to the temper of that affair. Madrid and Barca, yeah, fair enough, but I’d flip a coin for that and us/Liverpool, it’s basically the same. The Milan and Rome derbies have been bad tempered in recent times and I wouldn’t argue that they are worth a mention, but I notice you agree Ajax/Feyenoord is a hotter clash than the Utd/Pool one? Why is that?

    Personally I believe the Turkish big one is JUST higher than the Utd/Pool game, if only for the despicable behaviour of both sets of fans, though Liverpool’s fans behaviour in the games in early 2006 gives me cause to doubt myself – graffitti all over the stadium, Munich drawl all over the metrolink, dog turd thrown at United fans at Anfield, and an ambulance kicked and bricked to stop it from getting to hospital to attend to a very ill human, let alone professional – it was a flashback to the 80’s, and a very timely reminder how some people can mindlessly react to heartbreak in a game.

    You make a good point that Liverpool/United is not considered a derby by many – but look at that list, there are numerous others that are just bad tempered rivalries and not local derbies.

    I would place the game 5th, but only because both clubs have historically been the most successful in England, whereas Roma/Lazio haven’t. Ajax/Feyenoord a little further down for me.

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  6. Chris says:

    Just to be clear I’ve posted a link to this from our official website for a wider view…

    Comments about bad behaviour in 06 are timely reminder of how bad it gets…. The bridge banners before the cup semi that year on the M62 and M60 were most of the reason your ground was wrecked that day. Everyone was havin a great time until we passed them then it was war !

    Its blood mad and “ONLY” a game. But jesus I hate MU !

    (RESPECT) !

    YNWA

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  7. Danny – the full list is here:

    1. Real Madrid vs Barcelona (Spain)
    2. Boca Juniors vs River Plate (Argentina)
    3. Celtic vs Rangers (Scotland)
    4. Galatasaray vs Fenerbahce (Turkey)
    5. Ajax vs Feyenoord (Netherlands)
    6. Lazio vs Roma (Italy)
    7. Shalke vs Borussia Dortmund (Germany)
    8. Al Ahly vs Zamalek (Egypt)
    9. Betis vs Sevilla (Spain)
    10. Partizan Belgrade vs Red Star Belgrade (Serbia)
    11. Marseille vs Paris St. Germain (France)
    12. Juventus vs Fiorentina (Italy)
    13. Flamengo vs Vasco da Gama (Brazil)
    14. Olympiacos vs Panathanaikos (Greece)
    15. Milan vs Internazionale (Italy)
    16. Athletic Bilbao vs Real Sociedad (Spain)
    17. Benfica vs Porto (Portugal)
    18. Corinthians vs Sao Paulo (Brazil)
    19. Racing Club vs Independiente (Argentina)
    20. America vs Guadalajara (Mexico)
    21. Nacional vs Penarol (Uruguay)
    22. Pirouzi vs Esteghlal (Iran)
    23. Spartak Moscow vs CSKA Moscow (Russia)
    24. Steaua Bucharest vs Dinamo Bucharest (Romania)
    25. Kaizer Chiefs vs Orlando Pirates (South Africa)
    26. Slave Prague vs Sparta Prague (Czech Republic)
    27. Corinthians vs Santos (Brazil)
    28. Liverpool vs Manchester United (England)
    29. Rosario Central vs Newell’s Old Boys (Argentina)
    30. Cerro Porteno vs Olimpia (Paraguay)
    31. Ferencvaros vs Ujpest (Hungary)
    32. AIK Stockholm vs Djurgardens (Sweden)
    33. CSKA Sofia vs Levski Sofia (Bulgaria)
    34. Genoa vs Sampdoria (Italy)
    35. America vs Deportivo Cali (Colombia)
    36. Raja Casablanca vs Wydad Casablanca (Morocco)
    37. Basle vs Zurich (Switzerland)
    38. Rapid Wien vs Austria Wien (Austria)
    39. Barcelona vs Emelec (Ecuador)
    40. Hajduk Split vs Dinamo Zagreb (Croatia)
    41. Beitar Jersulam vs Hapoel Tel Aviv (Israel)
    42. Arsenal vs Tottenham (England)
    43. Alianza Lima vs Universitario (Peru)
    44. FC Copenhagen vs Brondby (Denmark)
    45. Anderlecht vs Club Brugge (Belgium)
    46. Asec Abidjan vs Africa Sports (Cote d’Ivoire)
    47. Sarajevo vs Zeljeznicar (Bosnia)
    48. Mohun Bagan vs East Bengal (India)
    49. Tenerife vs Las Palmas (Spain)
    50. Gremio vs Internacional (Brazil)

    Just a reminder as well lads that, as mentioned in the post, it’s not a argument about who is the better club – it’s merely praising and highlighting the magnitude of the game.

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  8. yolkie says:

    Fair play Chris, wasn’t trying to make a specific point about blame or violence, more trying to highlight the velocity that exists in the fixture.

    The game at Anfield is the one that stands out for me in the calender – but how about Arsenal/Spurs, at 42!! Ranking below Sampdoria and Genoa and the Swiss one.. jeez. That must be embarrassing for a fan of either club

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  9. Lee D says:

    Agree with many of your points, but, even as a Liverpool fan I’m not sure i agree with you about the Istanbul. I have been to Istanbul (don’t think I need to say why) and the fans there where absolutely crazy. Just recently i was drinkin in the walkabout in Liverpool when I got talking to a Turk who was very pleasant to talk to and had a good conversation. When i mentioned football though, the passion from him was unbelievable. He was a Galatasary fan and absolutely loved Souness and hated Emre. In the same night I was stood talking to a lad from Manchester who supported United, and even though we hada bit of banter, I don’t believe the amount of hatred was the same (apart from my hatred of Gary Neville)
    But on the whole I do agree we should b a lot higher, between 10th and 18th at worst.

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  10. Yogi says:

    Okay this is a very interesting blog and whilst I agree that it is a game between the two biggest clubs in England it does lack some of the political or nationalistic rivals that exist in the other derbies. Let’s face it religion is not really a factor in either club nowadays, nor is politics both cities have a long relationship with voting Labour, and I’m sure everyone will agree that both clubs call themselves English. So despite the intense rivalry between the two teams it’s purely football not anything else unlike the Old Firm (which revolves around the politics of nationality, which N.Ireland encompasses) and the politics of Real Madrid (Spanish) Barcalona (Catalan) games. Having been at all 3 I can honestly say that whilst the Liverpool Man U game is definately a massive game it doesn’t hold a candle to the other 2 in terms of pure hatred. After all for those of you reading outside the towns of Liverpool and Manchester many of you will have big mates who support the other team to you and whilst there will be banter there are still your mates. I know from living in Derry that Nationalists and Unionists don’t really mix over here, it’s just that way. However being 28th is pathetic

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  11. LFC Till I'm Buried says:

    Yolkie, what planet you on with this….

    Personally I believe the Turkish big one is JUST higher than the Utd/Pool game,
    if only for the despicable behaviour of both sets of fans, though Liverpool’s fans behaviour in the games in early 2006 gives me cause to doubt myself – graffitti all over the stadium, Munich drawl all over the metrolink, dog turd thrown at United fans at Anfield, and an ambulance kicked and bricked to stop it from getting to hospital to attend to a very ill human, let alone professional – it was a flashback to the 80’s, and a very timely reminder how some people can mindlessly react to heartbreak in a game.

    Obviously you wasn’t at the Scum/Lpool game at Old Toilet in 1978 when a manc stabbed my mates dad in the back and left 2 12 year old frightened kids to walk the streets of manchester alone, but go on blame us for all the woes and trouble, you’re no better than us, grow up and get a life

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  12. yolkie says:

    I wasn’t born in 1978 mate so sorry I couldn’t make it.

    As I said when replying to someone else, I wasn’t trying to make a specific point about blame or violence, more trying to highlight the velocity that exists in the fixture.

    I’m honestly sorry about what happened to your mates dad but picking up on an isolated incident over a generation ago to prove a point against something that I merely referenced to prove the tenacity of the fixture in modern times is a little below the belt – maybe you ought to think twice about who should grow up.

    I don’t want to get involved in that whole debate, only to say in defence of the club that I support and the supporters you are generalising me alongside – I will refrain from referencing in detail Heysel and Hillsborough because I was too young to give you a truly worthwhile insight and information can only really tell you so much, but I saw the pictures and read all about what happened in Istanbul – your fans were truly animals (I’m assuming you were not one of the bargers, so I won’t label you ), and that was fighting amongst each other to cheat fans who had bought tickets out of their place in the game. What happened in early 2006 was a disgrace and to be fair to use an appalling incident 18 years previous as some kind of vindication of revenge isn’t really fair.

    United fans could have behaved better in Rome and it’s sad for both clubs that those recent situations existed. It’s sad (in the literal sense) that you have brought the debate to a level of “you’re no better than us” for things that happened before I was born.

    All the above aside, even these comments show that the rivalry bites,

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  13. yolkie says:

    That posted before I’d finished.

    …the rivalry bites, and I mean no offence by any comments I have posted.

    (Check the times of the posting, you can see it was a gremlin in the system and not a grovelling attempt)

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  14. Craig Mc says:

    Violence in any shape or form should have no place in sport, or any other levels of society. They are scum who allow their ill advised passions to erupt into murderous hatred. There is no excuse for being a thug, no matter what football club the thugs belong too. There is no excuse for destroying peoples property, public property, or marauding through cities, like packs of baying wolves causing untold damage, and seeking who you may devour. That is ritualistic demonism, and has nothing to do with supporting football, in a proper, decent and controlled manner. Some people cannot even come on to football discusion blogs, and discuss things in the right manner, they just can’t help letting their hatred lower the tone. Looking for something, anything to take offence at, so they can spill out their bile. Supporters like this, infect everyone around them with their evil. Others, whether they be L’Pool, Arsenal, Chelsea, or whoever, can join in discussions with just as much passionate banter, and yet not want to kill the people they are discussing with, given the chance. Like my Dad says, shame that the good ole days are gone, when supporters used to stand on the terraces, singing their hearts out, and chanting for the names of all their own heroes, and not like todays crowds, where they spend more terrace time deriding opposition players, and singing vile songs, and chanting vilifying words for the other team. This is just a sad reflection of the society we live in today. People don’t argue anymore, they just shoot or knife one another. I am talking about widespread in Britain, and not just any particular club. All clubs supporters have become that way. My parents remember the time, when fans could stand next to each other on the terraces, no matter what club they supported, and shout for their own team, whilst appreciating other supporters. I marvel at this, seeing in grounds today, no friendliness between opposing supporters. SAD. No matter where Man Utd/L’pool should be in the list of most passionate derbies, it is nothing to be proud of if the passion turns into hatred and violence.

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  15. scopey says:

    Good blog. And i agree – far too low. But i think it is about the bigger picture of English football.

    Each of Italy, Spain, Brazil and Argentina are mentioned 3 times each before our second fixture is mentioned, despite our obvious passion, history and rivalry. BUt maybe it is based on violence and history of violence, which should obviously not be a gauge of passion.

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