Last week I noticed that Liverpool are travelling to Old Trafford on Saturday to face their old rivals Manchester United, and I found myself not feeling the usual excitement. Is that feeling because of money?
I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t terribly excited about the upcoming derby.
I mean, between them, they have 86 major honours, it seems every match is flooded with dirty tackles, red cards, pushing, punching, goals, extravagant celebrations and generally just 90 minutes of action packed hatred.
I have such great memories of this derby, and I don’t even support either one of the teams.
I remember Gary Neville over-celebrating a late United goal in front of the Pool fans by kissing the United badge on his shirt. Why did he celebrate so hard? Because he is a born and raised Red Devil. He knows what it means to the fans, because he is a fan himself, and hates Liverpool as much as anyone else.
Who remembers Stevie G scoring from the penalty spot and getting so excited he kissed the camera? Why…? I’d suggest it’s because he was born in Liverpool and joined the club at 8 years old. He hates United so much that in his house, he has a room full of shirts of other famous players he’s swapped shirts with, but does not have a United shirt.
He says there is no place in his home for anything to do with Manchester United.
Years ago, you had players like Gerrard, Carragher, Fowler, Owen, Gary Neville, Phil Neville, Butt, Scholes and Beckham playing in this derby. These players, if not born in the town, were signed at a young age and were brought up with the rivalry in their blood.
If you look at the current United and Liverpool side, how many players were born in Manchester or Liverpool? Rooney is an Everton boy, so knows all about hating Liverpool whilst Tyler Blackett is a Manchester boy. Other than that, the players come from all over England, Brazil, Belgium, Spain, Holland, Germany and many other countries.
Since money has taken over the football world, the standard of football has soared to phenomenal heights due to the Premier League attracting the greatest players from all over the globe. But unfortunately it has also cost younger players, coming through the ranks, a position in their boyhood club’s first team.
This is all culminating in big derbies just becoming another fixture in the season. The fans are always up for it, but dislike for a local rival isn’t something you can just flip the switch on when joining a new club, it’s something that is ingrained into you when you are growing up.
I’m sure the match on Saturday will be full of class and easy on the eye, but will it be an old school, hate-fuelled game? I can’t imagine so – I think those matches are a thing of the past.