Liverpool F.C.–Manchester United F.C. rivalry

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Liverpool v Manchester United
Locale North West England
Teams Liverpool
Manchester United
First meeting 28 April 1894
Liverpool 2–0 Newton Heath
Latest meeting 12 September 2015
Manchester United 3–1 Liverpool
(2015–16 Premier League)
Next meeting 16 January 2016
Meetings total 193[1]
Most player appearances Ryan Giggs (48)[2]
Top scorer Steven Gerrard (9)
George Wall (9)
Sandy Turnbull (9)[3][4]
All-time series Liverpool: 64
Drawn: 51
Manchester United: 78[1]
Largest victory Liverpool 7–1 Newton Heath
12 October 1895
(1895–96 Second Division)

The Liverpool F.C.–Manchester United F.C. rivalry is a footballing rivalry between English clubs Liverpool and Manchester United. It is considered to be one of the biggest rivalry matches in world and European football.[5] Manchester United currently lead with 78 wins to Liverpool's 64.

The clubs are also the two most successful teams in England; between them they have won 86 major honours: 44[6] for Liverpool and 42[7] for Manchester United. As well as competing on the football pitch, both teams are also two of the biggest-earning, and widely-supported, football clubs in the world.[8]

Long-time Manchester United player Ryan Giggs claimed that Liverpool against Manchester United is "probably the most famous fixture in English football".[9] Football legend Pelé compared the stature and similarities of the fixture to that of the famous El Clásico rivalry between Real Madrid and Barcelona in Spain.[10]


Inter-city rivalry[edit]

The rivalry can be considered as a manifestation of one which already had existed between the two cities since industrial times. During this time both were competing with each other for supremacy of the North West, with Manchester famous for its manufacturing prowess while Liverpool was famous for the importance of its port.[11]

Once the Manchester Ship Canal was built, ships could bypass Liverpool and transport goods directly into Manchester. The Ship Canal was an audacious project and upon completion in 1894 it was the longest ship canal in the world. The Ship Canal meant less dues for Liverpool merchants, which consequently resulted in job losses at the port and resentment from the local people of Liverpool. Historians generally regard this as the key incident as to why such inter-city rivalry exists.[12] Furthermore, the crest of Manchester United includes a ship representing the Manchester Ship Canal and reflects Manchester's trade roots. The ship is also included on the crest of many other Mancunian institutions such as Manchester City Council and rivals Manchester City F.C.

During the late 1970s and 1980s, the two cities had been in decline due to the downturn of industries as were many cities in the predominantly industrial North. However, both cities have again grown and found success, with both Liverpool and Manchester now recognised as world-class cities. Recently, Manchester hosted the 2002 Commonwealth Games, while Liverpool was awarded the title of 2008 European Capital of Culture.

Football rivalry[edit]

Both clubs have enjoyed periods of dominance over English football. Liverpool dominated English football from 1975 to 1990, winning 11 league championships and four European Cups. Likewise, Manchester United dominated English football from 1993 to 2013, winning 13 league championships and two European Cups. During their respective periods of dominance, both clubs enjoyed several seasons in which they won multiple trophies in both domestic and European competitions.

When making a comparison between the historical success of the two clubs, a controversy arises regarding which trophies should be counted. This leads to different scenarios in which each club can claim the title of 'the greatest English football club'. By some measures only season-long large-scale tournaments are included while others include single-match Super Cups and still others use a combination of these or include other minor honours.

Using the measure provided by world football governing body FIFA, the lists of major honours for each club show the following:

Major honours as defined by FIFA[6][7] Liverpool Manchester United
FIFA Club World Cup 0 1 2008
Intercontinental Cup 0 1 1999
European Cup/UEFA Champions League 5 1976–77, 1977–78, 1980–81, 1983–84, 2004–05 3 1967–68, 1998–99, 2007–08
UEFA Cup 3 1972–73, 1975–76, 2000–01 0
European Cup Winners' Cup 0 1 1990–91
UEFA Super Cup 3 1977, 2001, 2005 1 1991
Premier League/First Division 18 1900–01, 1905–06, 1921–22, 1922–23, 1946–47, 1963–64, 1965–66, 1972–73, 1975–76, 1976–77, 1978–79, 1979–80, 1981–82, 1982–83, 1983–84, 1985–86, 1987–88, 1989–90 20 1907–08, 1910–11, 1951–52, 1955–56, 1956–57, 1964–65, 1966–67, 1992–93, 1993–94, 1995–96, 1996–97, 1998–99, 1999–2000, 2000–01, 2002–03, 2006–07, 2007–08, 2008–09, 2010–11, 2012–13
FA Cup 7 1964–65, 1973–74, 1985–86, 1988–89, 1991–92, 2000–01, 2005–06 11 1908–09, 1947–48, 1962–63, 1976–77, 1982–83, 1984–85, 1989–90, 1993–94, 1995–96, 1998–99, 2003–04
League Cup 8 1980–81, 1981–82, 1982–83, 1983–84, 1994–95, 2000–01, 2002–03, 2011–12 4 1991–92, 2005–06, 2008–09, 2009–10
Total 44 42
  • The honours listed above are considered to be the club’s major titles and, as such, are not intended to be a full list of achievements.[6][7]
Table correct as of 3 July 2015.

The European football governing body UEFA,[13][14] includes the same set of trophies as FIFA except for the elimination of the FIFA Club World Cup and lists 44 trophies for Liverpool and 41 for Manchester United. The official Manchester United website[15] agrees with UEFA except for listing the Intercontinental Cup (a predecessor to the FIFA Club World Cup) under "Other Honours" and lists 40 domestic and European trophies along with 22 others. The official Liverpool website[16] lists the same set of honours as FIFA with the elimination of the UEFA Super Cup and lists 41 major honours plus 49 others. In the media,[17][18][19] many sites eliminate all of the Super Cups and include only the season-long trophies giving 41 for Liverpool and 39 for Manchester United while the BBC[20] and other media[21] include all of the trophies on the FIFA list with the addition of the FA Community Shield (won 15 times by Liverpool and 20 times by Manchester United) for a total of 59 and 62 trophies respectively. Others media sites [22][23] include some minor trophies giving Liverpool 65 and Manchester United 62.

In the absence of any definitive measure of historical success, both clubs can legitimately claim the to be 'the greatest English football club'.

Players' rivalry[edit]

The rivalry has extended to the players as well: United striker Wayne Rooney, a product of Liverpool's city rivals Everton, described how he grew up hating the Reds,[24] while Liverpool's Steven Gerrard took a film crew on tour of his home where he showed off a collection of football shirts he had swapped with opposing players as part of the after match routine; he pointed out that there were no Manchester United shirts in there and he would never have one of them in his house. Manchester United's Gary Neville has been publicly vocal in the past with regards to his dislike of Liverpool; following a fixture in which John O'Shea scored a stoppage-time winner in front of the Kop in 2007, Neville described O'Shea's achievement as "a lifelong dream" for himself. Neville was berated by Liverpool fans for his role in celebrating in front of them in 2006, kissing the crest on his jersey and appearing to shout angrily towards the fans.

In the 2011–12 season, the rivalry was exacerbated by claims that, in the first League meeting of the season at Anfield, Liverpool striker Luis Suárez racially abused United's Patrice Evra. After considering the evidence, an FA panel found that Suarez had referred to Evra using the term "negrito" seven times (Suarez himself admitted to having done so once, but denied racism) and Suarez was banned for eight games. This included the FA Cup fourth round tie between the two clubs (again at Anfield), which Liverpool won. However, on 11 February 2012, United and Liverpool met again at Old Trafford, and Suarez started a match for the first time since he began his ban. Prior to kick-off, the two teams were expected to shake hands, but Suarez ignored Evra's offered hand and moved onto the next United player in line (David de Gea).[25] As a result, Rio Ferdinand and Danny Welbeck rejected Suarez' handshake. United went on to win 2–1 and Evra celebrated in front of the home supporters, with Suarez close by. Sir Alex Ferguson declared Suarez to be a "disgrace" and suggested that he should not be allowed to play for Liverpool again.[26] Kenny Dalglish vehemently denied having seen the missed handshake.[27] The following day, Suarez, Dalglish and Liverpool FC all issued statements of apology for the handshake incident,[28] which United accepted. The FA decided against any further action against either club or the players involved.[29]

Player transfers[edit]

Since the 1964 transfer of Phil Chisnall from United to Liverpool, no player has been transferred directly between the two clubs.[30] Some players, however, have played for both clubs, but having played elsewhere between each tenure, such as Paul Ince (playing for Internazionale in between) and Peter Beardsley (Vancouver Whitecaps and Newcastle United) and more recently Michael Owen (Real Madrid and Newcastle United), although Beardsley only played once for United, but went on to be a key player during his four years at Liverpool.[31]

In 2007, there was a bid from Liverpool to sign Gabriel Heinze from United, but United refused to allow him to join their biggest rivals due to the ongoing feud. United claimed that it was agreed Heinze would only join a foreign club if he chose to leave.[32] Heinze went public with his request to join Liverpool which was seen as the ultimate betrayal by the Manchester United fans. The Manchester United fans who once chanted "Argentina" in honour of the player then turned their backs on him. Heinze was eventually sold to Real Madrid instead.

Date[33] Name From To Fee[34]
August 1912 Tom Chorlton Liverpool Manchester United
November 1913 Jackie Sheldon Manchester United Liverpool
September 1920 Tom Miller Liverpool Manchester United £2,000
May 1921 Fred Hopkin Manchester United Liverpool
February 1929 Tommy Reid Liverpool Manchester United
January 1938 Ted Savage Liverpool Manchester United
November 1938 Allenby Chilton Liverpool Manchester United
February 1954 Thomas McNulty Manchester United Liverpool £7,000
April 1964 Phil Chisnall Manchester United Liverpool £25,000


Manchester United wins Draws Liverpool wins
League 66 44 55
FA Cup 9 4 4
League Cup 2 0 3
Other 1 3 2
Total 78 51 64
Table correct as of 12 September 2015[1]

All-time results[edit]

Results at home in cup matches[edit]

Date Venue Matches Competition
Team 1 Score Team 2
12 February 1898 Bank Street Newton Heath 0–0 Liverpool FA Cup 2nd Round
16 February 1898 Anfield Liverpool 2–1 Newton Heath FA Cup 2nd Round Replay
7 February 1903 Bank Street Manchester United 2–1 Liverpool FA Cup 1st Round
8 January 1921 Anfield Liverpool 1–1 Manchester United FA Cup 1st Round
12 January 1921 Old Trafford Manchester United 1–2 Liverpool FA Cup 1st Round Replay
24 January 1948 Goodison Park[a] Manchester United 3–0 Liverpool FA Cup 4th Round
30 January 1960 Anfield Liverpool 1–3 Manchester United FA Cup 4th Round
14 August 1965 Old Trafford Manchester United 2–2 Liverpool 1965 Charity Shield
26 November 1985 Anfield Liverpool 2–1 Manchester United League Cup 4th Round
31 October 1990 Old Trafford Manchester United 3–1 Liverpool League Cup 3rd Round
24 January 1999 Old Trafford Manchester United 2–1 Liverpool FA Cup 4th Round
18 February 2006 Anfield Liverpool 1–0 Manchester United FA Cup 5th Round
9 January 2011 Old Trafford Manchester United 1–0 Liverpool FA Cup 3rd Round
28 January 2012 Anfield Liverpool 2–1 Manchester United FA Cup 4th Round
25 September 2013 Old Trafford Manchester United 1–0 Liverpool League Cup 3rd Round
Manchester United wins Liverpool wins Draws
7 5 3

Results at neutral venues[edit]

Date Venue City Matches Competition
Team 1 Score Team 2
28 April 1894 Ewood Park Blackburn Liverpool 2–0 Newton Heath Football League Test Match
21 May 1977 Wembley London Manchester United 2–1 Liverpool 1977 FA Cup Final
13 August 1977 Wembley London Liverpool 0–0 Manchester United 1977 Charity Shield
31 March 1979 Maine Road Manchester Manchester United 2–2
Liverpool FA Cup Semi-final
4 April 1979 Goodison Park Liverpool Manchester United 1–0 Liverpool FA Cup Semi-final Replay
26 March 1983 Wembley London Liverpool 2–1
Manchester United 1983 League Cup Final
20 August 1983 Wembley London Manchester United 2–0 Liverpool 1983 Charity Shield
13 April 1985 Goodison Park Liverpool Manchester United 2–2
Liverpool FA Cup Semi-final
17 April 1985 Maine Road Manchester Manchester United 2–1 Liverpool FA Cup Semi-final Replay
18 August 1990 Wembley London Liverpool 1–1 Manchester United 1990 Charity Shield
11 May 1996 Wembley London Manchester United 1–0 Liverpool 1996 FA Cup Final
12 August 2001 Millennium Stadium Cardiff Liverpool 2–1 Manchester United 2001 Charity Shield
2 March 2003 Millennium Stadium Cardiff Liverpool 2–0 Manchester United 2003 League Cup Final
Manchester United wins Liverpool wins Draws
5 4 4


With the rise of football hooliganism across English football during the 1970s and 1980s, matches between the two clubs brought some minor and major incidents of hooliganism.[citation needed] Since then, the modern game has seen a decrease in violence between the rival supporters and incidents are fairly uncommon. This is more likely due to an increase in Police presence and CCTV with huge steps taken to keep the fans separated. To this day, both sets of fans still hold a resentment toward each other. As well as physical violence, sections of the clubs' fan bases often taunt each other with unsavoury chants about the Munich air disaster and the Hillsborough disaster respectively.

At the 1996 FA Cup Final, an unidentified Liverpool fan spat at Eric Cantona and threw a punch at Alex Ferguson as a victorious Manchester United team walked up the steps at Wembley Stadium to collect the trophy from the Royal Box.[35]

The 2006 FA Cup match at Anfield featured foreign objects thrown at Man United fans by Liverpool supporters, including human excrement.[36] Liverpool's FA Cup semi-final game against Chelsea at Old Trafford later that year also resulted in damage to the stadium, including graffiti about serial killer Harold Shipman.[37]

In March 2011, the Daily Mail reported that an FA Youth Cup game between the two clubs was marred because of "sick chants" about Hillsborough and Heysel coming from the Manchester United fans at Anfield. The article also claims that six Manchester United fans were ejected from the stadium due to bad behaviour.[38] Former Liverpool striker John Aldridge was at the game and told the Liverpool Echo that "the level of abuse was absolutely sickening".[39]

Significant games[edit]

In 1977, the two clubs met in a cup final for the first time, when they reached the final of the FA Cup. The two clubs took to the field at Wembley on 21 May, with Liverpool having just won the league title, knowing that winning this game would put them on course for a unique treble as they had the European Cup final to look forward to four days later. However, United ended Liverpool's treble dreams with a 2–1 win, with goals from Stuart Pearson and Jimmy Greenhoff, five minutes apart with a Jimmy Case goal for Liverpool in between.[40]

Six years later, on 26 March 1983, the two sides met for the Football League Cup final. Goals from Alan Kennedy and Ronnie Whelan won the game 2–1 for Liverpool, after Norman Whiteside had given United the lead. Liverpool collected the trophy for the third year in succession. It was the last of Liverpool manager Bob Paisley's nine seasons in charge (during which Liverpool had dominated the English and European scene) before his retirement, and his players allowed him to climb the 39 steps to collect the trophy from the Royal Box.[41]

On 4 April 1988, Liverpool were 11 points ahead at the top of the league and almost certain of winning the First Division title with barely a month of the league season remaining. United, in their first full season under the management of Alex Ferguson, were their nearest rivals. The two sides took to the field for a league encounter at Anfield and with the second half just minutes old the home side had a 3–1 lead with goals from Peter Beardsley, Gary Gillespie and Steve McMahon, with United's only goal coming from Bryan Robson. Robson then pulled a goal back for United, and with 12 minutes remaining fellow midfielder Gordon Strachan equalised to force a 3–3 draw.[42]

Nearly six years after this clash, Anfield was the scene of another 3–3 draw in the league between the two sides, only this time it was the home side who climbed back from the jaws of defeat. On 4 January 1994, in the second season of the new FA Premier League, United took a 3-0 lead at Anfield in the opening 25 minutes with goals from Steve Bruce, Ryan Giggs and Denis Irwin. Liverpool managed to claw back to draw 3-3 with two goals from Nigel Clough and another from Neil Ruddock. It was one of the last games in charge of Liverpool for manager Graeme Souness, who had resigned by the end of the month.[42]

On 1 October 1995, United's Eric Cantona made his comeback to the side after serving an eight-month suspension for attacking a spectator in a game against Crystal Palace. His comeback game was against Liverpool in the Premier League at Old Trafford. United took an early lead through Nicky Butt, only for Liverpool's Robbie Fowler to score twice and give the visitors a 2–1 lead. However, United were awarded a penalty in the 71st minute and Cantona converted it successfully, forcing a 2-2 draw.[42] At the end of the season, the two sides met again at Wembley for the FA Cup Final. The game stayed goalless until the 85th minute, when Liverpool conceded a corner, which David Beckham swung into the box to be cleared by David James, only for Eric Cantona to fire home United's winner.[43] In March 2003, the two clubs once again met in a cup final, this time in the League Cup, with Liverpool lifting the trophy after goals from Steven Gerrard and Michael Owen gave them a 2–0 win.[44]

On 14 March 2009, the two sides met at Old Trafford in the Premier League. United were ahead at the top of the league and Liverpool were looking to make a late run to the title which had eluded them since 1990. United went ahead in the 23rd minute with a Cristiano Ronaldo penalty, but Fernando Torres equalised five minutes later for Liverpool, and a Steven Gerrard penalty just before half time put Liverpool in the lead. United had Nemanja Vidić sent off in the 76th minute, and their misery was swiftly compounded by late goals from Fabio Aurelio and finally Andrea Dossena, condemning them to a 4-1 defeat - their heaviest at Old Trafford in any competition for 17 years.[45] Despite the loss, Manchester United were crowned league champions for the third season in succession,[46] with Liverpool finishing second.[47]

The league fixture on 11 February 2012 was marked by controversy regarding Patrice Evra refusal to shake hands with Liverpool striker Luis Suárez, following an eight-match suspension for allegedly racially abusing Evra in the previous meeting between the sides.[48][49] Following the 2-1 victory for United after a brace from Wayne Rooney, Evra in turn controversially celebrated right in front of Suárez, and was swept aside by opposition players finding the gesture provocative. On 16 March 2014, Liverpool won at Old Trafford 3-0 after being given a remarkable three penalty kicks during the course of the match.[50] Steven Gerrard scored the first two, but his third hit the post - with the three-goal margin resembling the 2009 scoreline.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Due to war damage, Old Trafford was closed at the time, and Manchester United were playing their home matches at Maine Road. However, on the same day, Manchester City were at home to Chelsea in another FA Cup tie and as a result this tie was switched to Goodison Park


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  38. ^ King, Dominic (14 March 2011). "Sick chants, three arrests and four red cards ruin FA Youth Cup clash between Liverpool and Manchester United". Daily Mail (London). 
  39. ^ "Former Liverpool striker John Aldridge slams Manchester United fans who marred Youth Cup game". The Daily Telegraph (London). 14 March 2011. 
  40. ^
  41. ^
  42. ^ a b c Rice, Simon (4 March 2011). "Classic Liverpool v Manchester United encounters". The Independent (London). 
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External links[edit]