The Liverpool and Manchester United rivalry is the biggest rivalry for both clubs. The importance of these fixtures to both sets of supporters has long overtaken the local rivalries — the Merseyside and Manchester derbies. This rivalry dates back to a reserve team game in Glasgow and came to light during this week following Manchester United’s draw against Benfica. How does it all come together?
Going back to 1969 Kenny Dalglish lined up for Celtic to play Rangers in a reserve team game. Dalglish, a striker by trade played at center back for “educational purposes” according to The Independents Ian Herbert who interviewed Dalglish prior to Liverpool’s 3-1 victory over Manchester United in March of this year. Ferguson, also a striker was man marked by Dalglish. To this day both disagree about what happened. Dalglish maintains Ferguson never scored and Celtic won, 2-0, however Ferguson believes he scored, but ended up on the losing side. This was to be the first of many battles between the two men.
Fast forward to 1986 and the build up to the World Cup in Mexico. Scotland successfully qualified for the World Cup, Alex Ferguson was assistant manager to Jock Stein in the national team set up. Dalglish decided not to join the Scottish National Team, but instead opted to go under the knife for knee surgery. This decision was seen as a blow to Ferguson who sang the praises of Dalglish earlier in the qualifying campaign to reporters.
The Dalglish versus Ferguson rivalry eventually took the form of Liverpool versus Manchester United in 1988 following a 3-3 draw at Anfield. Ferguson, talking to radio reporters felt aggrieved about refereeing decisions going Liverpool’s way. “A lot of managers leave Anfield choking on their own vomit,” said Ferguson. A passing Dalglish carrying his 6-week-old daughter Lauren, commented to radio reporters, “You might as well talk to my daughter. You’d get more sense.”
The significance of Alex Ferguson being interviewed by Kelly Cates (see video below) formerly Kelly Dalglish, after Manchester United’s champions league game against Benfica this past Wednesday has relevance to this rivalry. Did Cates overstep a boundary by asking Ferguson whether Anders Lindegaard had done enough to start ahead of David De Gea for this weekends game against Chelsea? Definitely not to warrant a snappy response. “I don’t know why you ask these questions. You are just looking for stupid little things,” Ferguson said to Cates. It was a normal question that any other journalist would have asked in her position, but it does show us that Ferguson is still irked by Kenny Dalglish, whether it is him personally or a member of his family.
A recent norm around Liverpool has been to allow Alex Ferguson to get away with whatever he wants when the topic of Liverpool FC is brought up. No more so that when Roy Hodgson painstakingly tried to manage a club way above his capability. Hodgson and Ferguson are best friends. That fact alone did not sit well with many Liverpool supporters when he took over. Roy Evans and Gerard Houllier done enough to rebuff Ferguson’s attempts to drag them into his petty games, but it wasn’t until Rafa Benitez that someone actually stood up to Ferguson. Liverpool supporters will forever be divided about Benitez, but he didn’t let the darling of the British press get away with much while he was in charge of Liverpool.
Thankfully, Kenny Dalglish embodies the history and ethos of the Liverpool way and knows how to represent the club’s supporters as well as get under Ferguson’s skin. Dalglish wants to return Liverpool to the glory days while also bringing down “Whiskey Nose” a few pegs. That is something that should sit well with all Liverpool supporters.