Darren Fletcher has dubbed it “a big deal” whilst Brendan Rodgers claims that it’s “arguably the biggest game in the world,” and so when Manchester United and Liverpool meet in Miami tonight you won’t find anyone calling it a friendly.
The International Champions Cup is up for grabs in Florida, but in reality that isn’t really the important bit.
What’s more relevant is this represents a perfect chance for one team to administer a swift kick in the ribs of the other, perhaps delivering a blow which will affect them going into the matches that really matter.
Here’s why the pair just don’t get on:
Almost 31 miles separate the two cities of Manchester and Liverpool, although you’ll need to go another 4,300 miles west to reach the Sun Life Stadium in Miami, where surely one of the strangest meetings between the pair will take place.
It is one thing to challenge another team for honours both at home and abroad, but when that team is just a short hop down the M62 motorway that rivalry becomes more intense and very, very real.
‘They’ might win something, but ‘their’ success won’t be completed until they rub ‘your’ noses in it.
In March and April of 1894, Liverpool played Manchester United in two testimonials and a ‘Test Match’ for promotion to Division 1. The former won the first 3-0, whilst the latter won the second 2-0, and then Liverpool won the third by the same margin. A rivalry was born.
Two hundred and nineteen games have been played between the pair in the 120 years since – fixtures which have taken in pretty much every scenario in English football along the way. And now this.
What one knows about one club, the other knows about the other.
Familiarity has certainly bred contempt over the years and in the long history of this fixture mentioned above, but the fact that whenever they meet there always seems to be something on the line has only strengthened that dislike.
They may be just down the motorway from one another, but they have often been the roadblock to the other’s success, each gaining the experience of being top dogs and using the motivation to keep ahead of the other.
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For many United supporters, the meek, almost apologetic 3-0 loss to Liverpool at Old Trafford the last time the pair met in March was the final straw for David Moyes, and that’s exactly how it should have been.
Losing to your rivals without a whimper simply shouldn’t be tolerated, and it is the loss of pride that the beaten side feels whenever they suffer a defeat to the other that is probably the most relevant emotion to pair’s fans.
If you lose pride you lose face, and that simply isn’t an option for these two.
Ultimately though, and a little like the dog barking loudly at reflection of itself in water, aren’t these two really just shouting at slightly altered versions of themselves?
We’d never want them to admit it and actually get along, but United and Liverpool have got far more in common with each other than they’d dare to admit – success, tragedy, worldwide appeal, red shirts and much, much more.
Their rivalry might never be the healthiest in this era when one supporter in Beijing can insult another in Toronto whilst their teams play in Miami, but one seems to exist pretty comfortably alongside the other, that is until they meet anyway…
Manchester United v Liverpool kicks off at 1am Tuesday morning in the UK – Bet now!