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

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Liverpool v Manchester United
Locale North West England
Teams Liverpool F.C.
Manchester United F.C.
First meeting 28 April 1894
Liverpool 2–0 Newton Heath (1893–94 Football League test match play-off)
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 high profile inter-city rivalry between English professional football clubs Liverpool and Manchester United. It is considered to be one of the biggest rivalries in the world and European football along with the Superclásico in South America, El Clásico in Spain, and Derby della Madonnina in Italy, and is considered the most famous fixture in British football with the Old Firm.[5][6][7][8][9] Players, fans and the media alike often consider games between the two clubs to be their biggest rivalry, above even their own local derby competitions with Everton and Manchester City.[10][11][12][13]

The rivalry has been fuelled by the the regional proximity of the two major cities that they represent, their historic economic and industrial rivalry, significant periods of domestic footballing dominance and European success, and their popularity at home and abroad where they are two of the biggest-earning and widely-supported football clubs in the world.[14][15][16][17]

The clubs are the two most successful English teams in both European and domestic competitions; and between them they have won 38 league titles, 8 European Cups, 3 UEFA Cups, 4 UEFA Super Cup, 18 FA Cups, 12 League Cups, and 35 FA Community Shield.[18][19][20][21]

Origins of the rivalry[edit]

Regional rivals[edit]

The cities of Liverpool and Manchester are located in the north west of England, 35 miles apart. Since the industrial revolution there has been a consistent theme of rivalry between the two cities based around economic and industrial competition. Manchester through to the 18th century was the far more populous city, and held a position of significance and notability as representative of the north. By the late 18th century Liverpool had grown as a major sea port – critical to the growth and success of the northern cotton mills. Over the next century Liverpool grew to supersede Manchester and throughout the late 19th and early 20th century was often described as the British Empire's second city.[16] The links between the two cities were strengthened with the construction of the Bridgewater Canal, Mersey and Irwell Navigation and Liverpool and Manchester Railway for the transport of raw materials inland.

The Coat of Arms of Manchester formed the foundation of the original Manchester United badge

The construction of the Manchester Ship Canal, funded by Manchester merchants, was opposed by Liverpool politicians and bred resentment between the two cities. Tension between working class Liverpool Dockers and labourers in Manchester was heightened after its completion in 1894, just 3 months prior to the first meeting between Liverpool & Newton Heath in a relegation deciding play-off that would eventually see Newton Heath relegated.[22]

Today the crests of both the city of Manchester and Manchester United include stylised ships 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.

Post war shifts in economic ties, reliance on regional coal, and shifts in transatlantic trade patterns caused by the growth of Asian labour markets caused the gradual decline of British manufacturing. Where the city of Liverpool suffered the loss of its primary source of income to southern port cities, Manchester maintained some of its manufacturing heritage. This reversal of fortune happened against the backdrop of shifting political backgrounds and significant events in British culture and society between 1960 and 2000.

The two cities continue to be strong regional rivals, vying for influence of surrounding areas. Their continued importance to the UK economy has been reflected with the awarding of the 2002 Commonwealth Games to Manchester, while Liverpool was awarded the title of 2008 European Capital of Culture as part of its ongoing regeneration.

More recent projects by Peel Ports have sought to re-establish the economic links between the Port of Liverpool and Port of Manchester, including re-developing trade links via the Manchester Ship Canal.

Football rivalry[edit]

refer to caption
A comparative chart showing yearly table positions of Manchester United F.C. and Liverpool F.C. in the English football league system from 1892–93 to the present

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 'most successful 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.

The world governing body FIFA lists 44 to 42 titles.[19][18] The European football governing body UEFA 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.[23][24] The official Manchester United website 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.[25] The official Liverpool website lists the same set of honours as FIFA with the elimination of the UEFA Super Cup and lists 41 major honours plus 49 others.[26]

In the media some eliminate all of the Super Cups and Charity Shields and include only the season-long trophies giving 41 for Liverpool and 39 for Manchester United.[27][28][29] In contrast the BBC 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.[30][31]

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,[32] 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).[33] 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.[34] Kenny Dalglish vehemently denied having seen the missed handshake.[35] The following day, Suarez, Dalglish and Liverpool FC all issued statements of apology for the handshake incident,[36] which United accepted. The FA decided against any further action against either club or the players involved.[37]

Player transfers[edit]

Since the 1964 transfer of Phil Chisnall from United to Liverpool, no player has been transferred directly between the two clubs.[38] 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.[39]

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.[40] 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[41] Name From To Fee[42]
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


A single tiered stand that contains thousands of people. Several flags are being waved. In front of the stand is a grass pitch with a goal.
Liverpool Kopites in The Kop Stand at Anfield

Both Manchester United and Liverpool are amongst the most popular football clubs (and sporting organisations) globally. Both are in the top 25 in Europe with Manchester considered the largest following of all, and with one of the highest average home attendances in Europe and large travelling support.[43] The club states that its worldwide fan base includes more than 200 officially recognised branches of the Manchester United Supporters Club (MUSC), in at least 24 countries.[44] Liverpool states that its worldwide fan base also includes more than 200 officially recognised branches of the LFC Official Supporters Clubs in at least 50 countries. Notable groups include Spirit of Shankly and Reclaim The Kop.[45]

The 2005 leveraged takeover of Manchester United by the Glazer family created a schism amongst Manchester fans, directly causing the creation of F.C. United of Manchester, and the "Love United Hate Glazer" movement, and subsequently the Red Knights who attempted to buy the Glazers out the club.[46][47] Two years later Liverpool went through its own controversial takeover when Chairman David Moores sold the club to American businessmen George Gillett and Tom Hicks.[48] Disagreements between Gillett and Hicks, and the lack of popular support from fans, resulted in the pair looking to sell the club.[49] Martin Broughton was appointed chairman of the club on 16 April 2010 to oversee its sale.[50][51] Court action finally forced the sale of the club to Fenway Sports Group.[52][53]


Main article: Football hooliganism

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.[54]

The 2006 FA Cup match at Anfield featured foreign objects thrown at Man United fans by Liverpool supporters, including human excrement.[55] 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.[56]

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.[57] Former Liverpool striker John Aldridge was at the game and told the Liverpool Echo that "the level of abuse was absolutely sickening".[58]

Significant games, honours, head to head, and statistics[edit]

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.[59]

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.[60]

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.[61]

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.[61]

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.[61] 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.[62] 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.[63]

Alan Wiley shows the Red Card to Nemanja Vidić of Manchester United on 14 March 2009

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.[64] Despite the loss, Manchester United were crowned league champions for the third season in succession,[65] with Liverpool finishing second.[66]

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.[67][68] 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.[69] Steven Gerrard scored the first two, but his third hit the post - with the three-goal margin resembling the 2009 scoreline.


Domestic Honours (English FA)
Competition Liverpool Manchester United
Titles Year Titles Year
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
FA Community Shield (* = Shared) 15 1964*, 1965*, 1966, 1974*, 1976, 1977*, 1979, 1980, 1982, 1986*, 1988, 1989, 1990*, 2001, 2006 20 1908, 1911, 1952, 1956, 1957, 1965*, 1967*, 1977*, 1983, 1990*, 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997, 2003, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2013
Super Cup 1 1986 0
Domestic Total 49 55
World Honours (FIFA)
FIFA Club World Cup 0 1 2008
Intercontinental Cup 0 1 1999
World Total 0 2
European Honours (UEFA)
European Cup/UEFA Champions League 5 1976–77, 1977–78, 1980–81, 1983–84, 2004–05 3 1967–68, 1998–99, 2007–08
UEFA Europa League 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
European Total 11 5
Combined Total[19][18]
Combined Total 60 62
  • 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.[19][18]
Table correct as of 8 November 2015.


The below table demonstrates the competitive results between the two sides (not indicative of titles won).

Competition 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 7 November 2015[1]

All-time results[edit]

League home record
Home Team Wins Losses Draws
Liverpool 39 24 19
Manchester 42 16 25
Overall League Head to Head record
Manchester United wins Liverpool wins Draws
66 55 44

Results 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
21 May 1977 Wembley Manchester United 2–1 Liverpool 1977 FA Cup Final
13 August 1977 Wembley Liverpool 0–0 Manchester United 1977 Charity Shield
31 March 1979 Maine Road Manchester United 2–2
Liverpool FA Cup Semi-final
4 April 1979 Goodison Park Manchester United 1–0 Liverpool FA Cup Semi-final Replay
26 March 1983 Wembley Liverpool 2–1
Manchester United 1983 League Cup Final
20 August 1983 Wembley Manchester United 2–0 Liverpool 1983 Charity Shield
13 April 1985 Goodison Park Manchester United 2–2
Liverpool FA Cup Semi-final
17 April 1985 Maine Road Manchester United 2–1 Liverpool FA Cup Semi-final Replay
26 November 1985 Anfield Liverpool 2–1 Manchester United League Cup 4th Round
18 August 1990 Wembley Liverpool 1–1 Manchester United 1990 Charity Shield
31 October 1990 Old Trafford Manchester United 3–1 Liverpool League Cup 3rd Round
11 May 1996 Wembley Manchester United 1–0 Liverpool 1996 FA Cup Final
24 January 1999 Old Trafford Manchester United 2–1 Liverpool FA Cup 4th Round
12 August 2001 Millennium Stadium Liverpool 2–1 Manchester United 2001 Charity Shield
2 March 2003 Millennium Stadium Liverpool 2–0 Manchester United 2003 League Cup Final
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
Overall Cup Head to Head record
Manchester United wins Liverpool wins Draws
14 8 5

Results in play-offs[edit]

Date Venue Matches Competition
Team 1 Score Team 2
28 April 1894 Ewood Park Liverpool 2–0 Newton Heath Football League Test Match
Overall Play-off Head to Head record
Manchester United wins Liverpool wins Draws
0 1 0

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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External links[edit]