Whisper it quietly on the Salford Quays or down by the Albert Dock, but there are a lot of similarities between Manchester United and Liverpool – success, for one. The duo have won 36 league championships combined – 18 each – which is almost a third of the titles available since both were formed. Both are from working-class, historical north-west cities that are proud of their traditions, their identity and their people. Both clubs have experienced triumph, tragedy, delight and disaster. Both have produced some of the greatest footballers this country has ever seen. Both have set and broken records, attracted millions of fans worldwide and given their supporters some wonderful European nights to savour. Both are being run into the ground by hated American owners.
When United visited Anfield for a goalless draw in September 2005, Liverpool’s supporters – only four months on from seeing their team crowned European champions – were buoyant. An anti-Glazer backlash had already begun amongst the United faithful, and American flags were waved in the direction of the travelling supporters along with European Cups made out of tin foil, cardboard and a healthy dose of mischief. It was all played out to the tune of ‘USA! USA!’ from the home fans. Four and a half years on, that memory must make those same fans cringe.
Saddled with almost a billion pounds of debt between them, United and Liverpool stagger on through their American revolutions. Supporters are doing all they can in a bid to turn it around. Quite how much the Glazers care about United’s green and gold protest only they know – surely if they have as much business nous as they claim to have then they’ll bring out a green and gold away kit next season – but at least the supporters’ hearts are in the right place, just like at Liverpool, where attempts to oust Tom Hicks and George Gillett continue, and the news of the Rh