As the Stone Roses have been known to say, “This Is The One”.
If you’re a United supporter and you’re not fired up for this matchup, there’s no hope for you.
Early season, mid-season, our place or theirs – this fixture is pivotal.
If you’ve never been to the north-west of England, you may not be aware of how deep this discord runs. It’s not just a sporting rivalry, oh no. It’s social, it’s economic, it’s personal.
I was once in a taxi on the way to Manchester Piccadilly and the gent who was driving me picked up on my bland Canadian accent. After assuring him that I wasn’t “a fookin’ Yank” – he asked me where I was going on the train. I felt this was the turning point in our chat, and I meekly replied “Liverpool.”
The eyes in the mirror hardened, and the question was fired towards the back seat, “why the fook would you want to do that?!” I was honest with my inquisitor, replying that I was only going there to see some Beatles attractions – seeing as I had come so far and was a huge fan. He acknowledged – somewhat grudgingly, mind you – that they were alright, but that “there were plenty of great bands that came out of Manchester, too”.
There was no way I was going to win, and I can’t help but salute the stubborn pride he had in his hometown. My chauffeur dropped me at the station and having warmed to the reason for my journey, let me go on my way with some advice. “Keep your passport and wallet safe and get back here before dark!” Manc through and through.
Oh, right. The match…
Brendan Rodgers [can he have the Liverpool job for life?] brings his seventh place squad to Old Trafford trying for his second win as Liverpool boss. The first came against David Moyes and saw Nemanja Vidic sent off. He’s lost the other two – January 2013 to Sir Alex and December of last season to LVG, as MUFC put up their sixth win on the trot during a blinding spell of form.
Juan Mata and our scouse skipper Wayne Rooney have had goalscoring form against Liverpool of late. In fact, with the England record in his back pocket now, this would be a terrific time for Rooney to open his Premier League account.
There have been other developments over this seemingly endless international break. We eagerly await the debut of our new forward, Anthony Martial. Spanish Dave might actually ink a new contract. And Louis van Gaal has anointed Ryan Giggs as his prospective successor – while at the same time reports have surfaced about the squad wanting to get out from under the Dutchman’s training ‘philosophy’ and express themselves a bit more.
I’m hoping for only two things as we kick off on Saturday. That United get fired up for this one and play some attractive, winning football – and that my friend the cabbie ends up with the bragging rights in this one matchup that I know means the most to him.