Liverpool’s clash with Manchester United on Sunday sees the Reds up against their fiercest rivals of recent years. Or at least they were fiercest rivals.
The bitterness of Evertonians towards Liverpool and their fans is getting stronger and stronger every year. Howard Kendall pops up from time to time to blame Liverpool for all of Everton’s problems – not some of their problems, all of them. His views are blindly followed by more and more supporters of the blues every time he speaks. Many Liverpool fans used to feel sorry for Everton – not any more. Now Liverpool fans are enjoying the over-confidence of the blues and the undoubted disappointments that will follow if they continue to believe their own hype. Last night’s 5-1 defeat in the UEFA Cup is a sign of upcoming troubles. Unable to qualify for the Champions League they are now set to exit UEFA’s secondary club competition. They’ve played four league games but have lost three of them. David Moyes, last season’s blue hero, should be sacked, according to many of those that follow the team from across Stanley Park. With a little less bitterness and spite towards the Reds, perhaps we’d have felt sorry for them at this time, but it’s difficult to do so now.
So has the dislike of Everton overtaken that of Manchester United? No. Manchester United still have Gary Neville playing for them, and his comments about Liverpool – both the club and the city – over the years are echoed by so many United fans that they’ll be ahead of Everton for some time. One of the things most hated about United over the years was the arrogance shown by the club and its supporters. There’s less of that now, because the success is dwindling for them, but it’s still there waiting to be unleashed at the first bit of success. Stories are legendary of United players in nightclubs in the past burning £50 notes in front of others of the same age, and when asked why saying, “because I can”. Whether these stories are true or not (probably not) isn’t the point – the point is that they are believable. Added to this was the perception that United always got away with more than other clubs when faced with officialdom. Rather than keeping quiet or admitting it, the club often argued they were hard done to. Alex Ferguson was the main perpetrator of this, ably assisted by Martin Edwards before he took his money for his shares in the football club to spend more time in country clubs.
The club most likely to knock United off top position in any official Liverpool FC polls of “most hated club” is the one that is now the richest club in the country. United fans are up in arms about their club now being owned by one man – Malcolm Glazer – but would be happier if that man were Roman Abramovich. Whilst Glazer is carefully keeping an eye on the purse strings at Old Trafford until he’s got a bit more of an idea how “soccer” works, Abramovich is still splashing the cash at Chelsea. One of his earliest moves was to bring in Jose Mourinho. A self-titled “special one”, the Portuguese coach is not liked by many outside Stamford Bridge. Telling Liverpool fans to “shush” at Cardiff didn’t help him win much love from Reds supporters, and he’s been busily imposing his own over-confidence on his own players. When Liverpool knocked Chelsea out of the Champions League last season the feeling was that justice had been done. Even then though Mourinho claimed the best team lost. As long as he keeps on believing that then Liverpool – and other clubs – can beat Chelsea every time they meet them.
So if anyone thinks Manchester United are liked a little bit more than they used to be by Liverpool, don’t be fooled. Everton and Chelsea have just closed the gap by increasing their own points totals in that particular league. Watch the game on Sunday to see just what we mean!