Manchester United and Liverpool have exchanged championships since the early 1900s. While the rivalry has intensified in modern times, and with it the desire to beat the rivals from down the East Lancs Road has also grown stronger, the competition has always been keen.
Indeed, the two clubs were on an roughly equal footing – in terms of league wins at least – up to the 1970s before Liverpool’s period of domestic and European domination took hold and they Merseysiders scored 11 First Division titles while United languished in relative domestic-title obscurity. Inevitable decline set in at Liverpool though and United has now romped to 12 Premier League titles without reply from the Anfield outfit.
Here Rant selects some of the highlights from the more than 100 years of rivalry…
United 0 – 1 Liverpool, 1901
Liverpool’s rise from the second division culminated in a first Football League championship in the club’s history.
United 0 – 2 Liverpool, 1906
Liverpool earned a second title in five years despite losing the opening four games of the season. The Merseysiders won impressively with two games to go.
United 1 – 2 Liverpool, 1908
Led by the irrepressible Welshman Billy Meredith, who had earlier been signed from Manchester City, United secure a first Football League championship.
United 2 – 2 Liverpool, 1911
A second Football League championship for manager Ernest Mangnall, who would defect to neighbours City a year later. He is the only man to have managed both City and United.
United 2 – 3 Liverpool, 1922
The first of two championships in a row for Liverpool, with the Merseyside club winning by six points. United finished last in the first division and suffered relegation.
United 2 – 4 Liverpool, 1923
Liverpool romped to a fourth English crown, winning the first division by six points. Meanwhile United failed to earn promotion from the second division.
United 2 – 5 Liverpool, 1947
Liverpool, led by Scottish inside-forward Billy Liddell, won the first postwar championship by a single point from United. Liddel went on to score more than 200 goals for the Anfield club.
United 3 – 5 Liverpool, 1952
Matt Busby’s first championship, with giant defender Bill Foulkes leading United to triumph. The Englishman played more than 600 games for the club and would later survive Munich.
United 4 -5 Liverpool, 1956
Busby’s second championship as the blossoming ‘Babes’ flourished, with Tommy Taylor leading the strikeforce. United also ventured into Europe, a decision that would shape a club and spawn an obsession.
United 5 – 5 Liverpool, 1957
Back-to-back wins for the ‘Busby Babes’ as Dublin-born inside forward Billy Whelan fired United to the title. ‘Liam’ would die at Munich aged just 22 having scored more than 50 goals for the club in a fledgling career.
United 5 – 6 Liverpool, 1964
Bill Shankley’s Liverpool beat United to the title by four points. In an open race, the Merseysiders lost 11 games to United’s 12. Shankley would win two further championships as one of the club’s longest serving managers.
United 6 – 6 Liverpool, 1965
Denis Law scored the goals to take the title back to Old Trafford. Law, a £115,000 signing three years previous, scored 237 goals in 404 games for United before joining City in 1973.
United 6 – 7 Liverpool, 1966
Liverpool took the First Division trophy back down the East Lancs Road the following year, with United 10 points behind the Merseysiders. Remarkably, Liverpool won the title with only 14 squad players.
United 7 – 7 Liverpool, 1967
Law scored 25 goals as United return the title to its rightful home at Old Trafford. It would be United’s last English championship for 26 years as Liverpool came to dominate the domestic and European game.
United 7 – 8 Liverpool, 1973
Shankley’s last title as Liverpool manager was the first of 11 Liverpool titles before United returned to the top of the English game.
United 7 – 9 Liverpool, 1976
Liverpool’s domination of the English game was well underway by the mid-1970s. It proved a first major trophy under Bob Paisley by narrowly beating Queens Park Rangers to the title.
United 7 – 10, 11 Liverpool, 1977-79
Paisley won the first of what would prove to be three European cups and secured the First Division title, narrowly, from City as Liverpool maintained their preeminence. Meanwhile, United sacked Tommy Docherty in ’77 for having an illicit affair with the club doctor’s wife. Liverpool regained the trophy in 1979 as United lost to Arsenal in the FA Cup final.
United 7 – 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17 Liverpool, 1980-88
Liverpool’s domination of the 1980s was almost total, with the Anfield club winning six First Division titles and two European cups. United’s faithful enjoyed a good record in the domestic cups but second best was always hard to take.
United 7 – 18 Liverpool, 1990
The last of Liverpool’s championships before decline set in. The Merseysiders, still led by Kenny Dalglish, beat Aston Villa into second place, with United engaged in a relegation battle for much of the season.
United 8 – 18 Liverpool, 1993
Hallelujah! United reached the promised land once again after 26 long years. Ferguson’s side won the title without kicking a ball, but in truth Steve Bruce’s two injury-time goals to beat Sheffield Wednesday at Old Trafford in April 1993 proved the catalyst.
United 9 – 18 Liverpool, 1994
One of United’s toughest ever sides, led by the irrepressible Eric Cantona and Mark Hughes strike pairing. The side won the first double in United’s history, beating Chelsea 4-0 in the FA Cup final and retained the Premier League trophy.
United 10, 11, 12 – 18 Liverpool, 1996-99
United’s domestic dominance in the mid-to-late 1990s was broken only by Cantona’s suspension in 1995, which enabled Blackburn Rovers to win the Premier League, and 1998 when Arsenal won the title at Old Trafford. Liverpool, meanwhile, hired and fired Graeme Souness and Roy Evans. The decade ended with United winning an historic League, FA Cup and European Cup treble; a feat Liverpool has never achieved.
United 13, 14, 15 – 18 Liverpool, 2000-03
United’s dominance of the English game continued unabated into the new decade, with Ferguson’s side winning by huge margins in 2000 and 2001. Under Gerard Houlier the Merseysiders achieved something of a renaissance in the cup competitions, although Arsenal provided United’s main domestic competition.
United 16, 17, 18 – 18 Liverpool, 2007-09
José Mourinho’s introduction at Chelsea, together with Roman Abramovich’s petro-billions, wrested control of the Premier League to London. But led by a new wave of attacking talent – Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney, Carlos Tevez – United won three Premier League titles back-to-back and the European Cup in 2008.
United 19 – 18 Liverpool, 2011
Knocked off their perch at long, long last. For the first time in the history of these two great clubs, United is now ahead on league titles won.