The 178th edition of the Manchester Derby kicks off in a few hours and I’m guessing it’s pretty safe to say it will be the weirdest one to ever be played. For the first time since 2012 this match will essentially decide the Premier League title.
The only difference? In 2012 the two teams vying for the title were Manchester United and Manchester City. This time it’s Manchester City and Liverpool; Manchester United’s two biggest rivals and the Red Devils will have a large say in where the title goes.
Should City win out, that would mean Liverpool, with just one loss all season, would break Chelsea’s record for most points in a season and still not win the league. The only two teams to finish a season with more points than Liverpool would be this year and last years City teams.
This game has obviously put United fans in a predicament that comes down to one simple question. Who would you rather see win the title? City or Liverpool? Or it’s probably more appropriate to ask who would you like least like to see win it?
There are reasons to not want either team to win it. Of course there, these are the club’s two biggest rivals, but let’s break them down.
City weren’t just the little brother, they were basically the irrelevant little brother for most of the Premier League era. That changed in 2008 when they had their big Middle East oil-money takeover. Since then the “noisy neighbors” have been infuriating.
It’s not just because they’re winning, or that they’re outspending the world to sign players. They’re one of two teams that has had UEFA help them get around FFP rules, creating a completely uneven playing field, even among the financial giants.
But no, what aggravates me the most about City is that the club is run miles better than United at the moment. City haven’t just invested in the first team, but they’ve completely outspent United at the academy level too. City are beating United to the top talent in the Manchester area. Academy players don’t get a chance to break into the first team at City, but they’re still producing far better players than United in recent years. They’re doing everything right and United are standing in quicksand.
I mean, how much needs to be said. They’re the club’s biggest rival. Always have been. The most successful team in English football until Sir Alex Ferguson came and knocked them off their perch. They’ve never won a Premier League title and I’d like to keep it that way.
What makes it even worse is how this Liverpool team came about and how god damn likeable they are. When the Premier League began Manchester United were the team that realized what globalization could do for them, while Liverpool just lived in the past basking about their success in the 80s.
In the last decade both teams were bought by new American owners, the Glazers at United, and Fenway Sports Group for Liverpool. Those owners invested money into Liverpool. They’ve renovated Anfield without taking away any of the things that made it Anfield. They’ve spent money on the squad, but not astronomical amounts. Instead they’ve made smart, calculated, signings and gave it time to develop into a team. They have been the complete opposite of United (who are now living off their past success).
Worst of all they went and signed Jurgen Klopp as their manager. Klopp was my favorite manager in the world and it killed me when he went to Liverpool. I love Klopp, I know how successful he’s going to be and I hate that it’s going to happen at Liverpool. The fact that he’s built this juggernaut isn’t the least bit surprising.
So where do I fall with this match?
For me it’s not really a question. Anyone but Liverpool. If that means that City have to win it this year then so be it.
It’s not just the Liverpool thing. I love streaks, I love quirky stats. I love that only six teams have ever won the Premier League and don’t want that jumping to seven. I love that Liverpool have never won it and want to keep it that way. Now that City have already won one title, what’s another one? City still have a long way to go before they catch up to us, as opposed to Liverpool who would be one behind.
I don’t like the fact that City would eclipse United as the last team to retain the title but oh well. Plus this isn’t just City, it’s Pep’s City, which is different (and that’s justifiable in my brain).
There’s another part of this though. Liverpool aren’t going away. They’re going to dominate this league for the next few years. They have an insanely young squad with nearly everyone either entering or at the beginning of their primes. I’d say their the favorites to win the league next year (especially if those Pep to Juventus rumors are true). They can wait another year before they win so I can hope that maybe Ole can re-tool United just enough to limit the length of Liverpool’s reign.
There are a lot of fans who share the same beliefs as I do. I also know there are a lot of fans who would rather see Liverpool win. That crew tends to skew a bit older and be from Manchester/the UK. Why? The best way to answer that is to quote one of the people I spoke to.
“You weren’t there in 1974 when City beat us to send us down.”
You’re right. I wasn’t there, and because of that I’ll never be able to feel the same way about this as you do. When he said that quote to me I could see the pain was still with him all these years later. I completely understand why he feels the way he does. That doesn’t make him right and me wrong. We each have our preferences in what is an unbelievably shitty situation to be in for a United fan.
That makes this game a weird one. I don’t want United to lose. I never do. Beating City is always fun. A loss, which would be their 7th in their last nine matches would be catastrophic with the media. But in order to get what I want I need United to lose.
It’s a weird predicament to be in, rooting for your team while also kind of hoping they lose. I haven’t been in a situation like this since, *checks notes…* this past December when I hoped United lost every game until Jose Mourinho got fired.
At the start of the season I told my girlfriend that until Mourinho got fired I hope United lose every game except for four. Liverpool home, Liverpool away, City home, City away. Now I’m quietly hoping they lose this game too. Go figure.
Football, bloody hell.