History of the Manchester United – Liverpool rivalry

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The Manchester United – Liverpool rivalry is the biggest rivalry in English football. They are England’s two most successful clubs by a distance. It’s not counted as a local derby because the clubs aren’t from the same city, but a distance of just 30 miles separates the clubs.

The rivalry goes beyond football, as the cities have a rivalry between themselves. This has added to the rivalry between the football clubs. When the Manchester Ship Canal was built in 1894, workers in Liverpool lost their jobs. This was because Liverpool was a major sea port, but they suffered when ships could bypass the city and go directly to Manchester. There was anger in Liverpool because of this, and tension began between Liverpool and Manchester.

Just three months later, Manchester United and Liverpool met for their first ever competitive match.

The First Meeting – 1894
Newton Heath – Manchester United’s original name before it was changed in 1902 – finished bottom of the First Division in the 1893/94 season. Liverpool, who were undefeated all season, won the Second Division, which would mean a play-off game between the two clubs for the right to play in the First Division the following season. Liverpool won the game 2-0 and replaced Newton Heath in the First Division. The Man United – Liverpool rivalry was born.

Early 1900s
Liverpool won their first league title in 1901. They added a second in 1906, which was the same season Man United were promoted back to the First Division. A couple of years later, in 1908, Man United won their first league title. They then won the first ever Charity Shield in the same year, and won the FA Cup the year after. United won the league and Charity Shield again in 1911.

League football took a break following the outbreak of World War I, before returning in 1919. Liverpool won league titles in 1922 and 1923, as Man United declined. United were relegated in 1923. Between 1923 and 1947, neither club won a trophy, until Liverpool won another First Division title. But once again, both clubs’ fortunes changed.

1940s Onward

Man United began to see some stability in 1945 when the legendary Matt Busby was appointed as manager. Busby had previously been a player for United’s two biggest rivals: Manchester City and Liverpool. He played 204 games for Man City and 115 for Liverpool, and was even Liverpool’s captain.

When Busby retired from football, he was offered a job as Liverpool’s assistant manager. But Busby’s ideas differed to theirs, so they allowed him to pursue another job. He met with Man United about taking over as their manager. He demanded that he would be involved with training, be able to pick the team and run the club’s transfer activity because he believed he knew the game better than the club’s officials. A move like this was unprecedented at the time, but the club agreed to the deal. He was initially offered a three-year contract, but convinced the club to give him a five-year deal, as he said that’s how long it would take him to sort things out.

United’s Rise Under Busby

While Busby didn’t bring immediate success to Man United, he brought stability. The club finished as First Division runners-up in 1947, 1948, 1949 and 1951. Just one point separated Man United and Liverpool in the 1946/47 season, as Liverpool narrowly won the league. Busby’s first honour as United manager came in 1948, as they won the FA Cup.

Even though Liverpool won the league in 1947, they weren’t particularly successful during this period. That was their first title since 1923, and they had to wait until 1964 for their next one. While Liverpool were declining, United were ascending.

Busby brought the club their first league title in over 40 years when they won the league in 1952. United were a lot more dominant than …

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