Football rivalries are a huge part of the World’s greatest sport. To some, they are subjective. But a recent report demonstrates who fans consider their biggest rivals in English football.
Twitter user Chris Whiting posted a study called ‘The League of Love And Hate’ where football fans voted. It has discovered the biggest rivals of England’s top clubs.
Today, The Football Manc Cave will assess the top rivals for Manchester United, and why.
Man Utd has garnered a lot of love and a lot of hate worldwide after their mass amounts of success over the past few decades. It’s safe to say that those who despise the kings of English football are enjoying their current downfall. But who do Man Utd fans consider to be their biggest rivals? Well, here is the top five, and why…
Man Utd’s Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsenal’s Arsene Wenger were the top dogs of English football for quite a while. Wenger won 3 Premier League titles, in ’98, ’02 and ’04, but has failed to ever since.
During this period Arsenal was Man Utd’s biggest competition. Whilst the rivalry still exists, it has certainly dwindled down in recent years due to a lack of success from both clubs.
To football fans who are not from England, seeing Championship side Leeds United in the top five rivals for Man Utd may come as a surprise.
First and foremost, Leeds is only 45 miles away from Manchester, making the match-up somewhat of a North-West derby.
However, to get into the rivalry a little deeper, we need a history lesson. Manchester was part of the Lancashire county during the Tudor era (the 1400s) whilst Leeds was part of the Yorkshire county. Lancashire’s symbol is the Red Rose and Yorkshire’s is the White Rose, which is (possibly coincidentally) reflected in their strips. The two counties famously feuded, a subject most Northern English students will be taught about. Furthermore, the industrial revolution in the late 1700s saw the two cities battle each other in an architectural race in who can develop the best buildings and businesses.
With friction already ingrained within the culture of each of their peoples, it was bound to be reflected in football when the two sides met. To reignite the spark that would last forever, the sides met in the FA Cup semi-final in 1965 which saw a punch up between Jack Charlton (of Leeds) and Denis Law (of Man Utd).
So, not only do the football teams have a rivalry, the people themselves have this rivalry ingrained into their culture.
After Arsenal were Man Utd’s biggest challengers, the emphasis switched over to Chelsea. Chelsea won back to back Premier League titles directly after Arsenal’s ’04 success, drawing Sir Alex’s attention to a different area of London. The rivalry is more recent. There have been heartbreaks and triumphs over the London Blues in domestic and European finals. So it is understandable to see them place above Leeds and Arsenal.
2. Man City
Although Man City’s success is very recent, they may well have still placed second if fans had been quizzed about this 12 years ago. Man City and Man City are direct neighbours, and derby games have always been a spectacle. Man City’s hate for Man Utd will have been heavy during the reign of the Reds, but the balance has changed since Man Utd became the second-best team in Manchester.
As expected. Fans of football from all corners of the globe are well aware of this huge rivalry.
Again, to fully understand the origins, another history lesson is needed. Liverpool is located on the North West coast of England and is famous for Albert Docks. In the early 1800s, Liverpool (the city) was thriving off their ability to trade textiles, receiving them at the docks and dispersing them throughout Britain, which created jobs and businesses for the people.
However, the Manchester Canal was completed towards the end of the 1800s which nullified reasons to dock at Liverpool. Ships could simply continue through the River Mersey, onto the canal and into Manchester.
This created a feud between the two cities as Liverpool was economically harmed by this process. To make the friction worse, both of the cities’ football teams have seen the most success in English football, at the expense of one another.
The cultural clash and competition alongside a century of football feuds have created one of the fiercest rivalries in world football.