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Liverpool vs. Manchester United: An American Perspective (plus life advice from Pepe Reina)

Liverpool montage.  Photo by Tom Patto
     The Drunken Sportsmen are making their first international soccer appearance this Sunday at Phoenix Landing in Cambridge, Massachusetts for the Liverpool-Manchester United game.  Now, to be honest, we’re not the most learned soccer fans in the land, but I know people that know soccer.  We’re bringing on two huge Liverpool fans for the post-game podcast and maybe even some mid-game videos.  There is some humor and perspective to be gained from our ignorance however.  Think of it like a caveman discovering technology.  What’s a fixture?  A pitch?  An honour?  Top of the table?  Apparently, it’s not just for topless women anymore – although, here’s hoping.

     Don’t get me wrong, I know some stuff about soccer.  I’ve played FIFA for over 20 years, and once bic’d my head for a youth soccer championship game (and we would’ve won if that sombitch coach hadn’t benched me and if our keeper hadn’t given himself a concussion diving into the post).  When I was unemployed, a buddy and I used to go out and loft crosses to each other and we’d try to volley/head them home.  That was dumb, but fun.  Pretty sure I concussed myself in the process.  No one ever taught me to head the ball.  We got our asses kicked in a pickup game once by these Russian guys.  My brother James and buddy Steven are huge soccer fans (and two of the best FIFA players I know), and they have expansive soccer knowledge.  So, my point is that I know people that know stuff and we’re gonna leverage the hell out of that to bring you an entertaining soccer experience.

     Anyway, on to the info. In honor of and preparation for this landmark event, here are some tidbits about this English Premier League match from around the web:

Intro to the rivalry from Wikipedia:    

The fixture between Liverpool and Manchester United is one of the most significant sporting rivalries in football, referred to as the North West derby. Both clubs hail from the North West of England, and they are also the two most successful teams in England; between them they have won 116 honours: 58 to Liverpool and 58 to United. The fixture is usually played at midday, due to both media (TV) interest and to discourage fans from drinking before the game.

Long-serving Manchester United player Ryan Giggs says that Liverpool against Manchester United is “probably the most famous fixture in English football”. This rivalry is one of the most high-profile derbies in the country.
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     So, sounds like a pretty bad ass rivalry.  I have to figure out what “honours” are though (seems that they might be titles, which is confusing to Americans because we’re used to having one title per league that really matters, but these European soccer teams have all kinds of titles).  I seriously doubt that scheduling the game at midday really hampers the fans’ drinking.  I’m going to watch this in the U.S. at 830 a.m., and will have my drink order in at first call.  Just wouldn’t seem right otherwise.

All-time rank perspective from Live Soccer TV:

Manchester United and Liverpool have always been regarded as the best clubs in the history of English Football. But to select the ultimate one among those two has been rather an uphill task with never-ending debates still being disputed nowadays.
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     To understand this rivalry, it helps to try and equate things to something you know; so, I’ll try a comparison to American pro sports.  It seems that the Manchester United/Liverpool rivalry is comparable to the Celtics/Lakers rivalry.  I may be way off base here not knowing more about the rivalry, but the Celtics have 17 titles to the Lakers 16 (that’s 33 titles out of 64 played for a 51.6% chance that the Celtics or Lakers will win the NBA title each year – wow).  Manchester United and Liverpool each have 18 league titles (remarkably similar numbers to the Celtics/Lakers, however, they’ve been in existence much longer than the NBA teams).  Liverpool has never won a Premier League title (EPL was founded in 1992), but dominated the 1970s and 1980s winning 11 league titles.  Manchester United owned the 1990s and 2000s winning 11 league titles of their own.

Thoughts on Liverpool’s current standing from The Guardian:

“We used to fight to be among the top teams and to be in the Champions League but sadly that’s not the case. I want to aspire to titles. Liverpool will always be a big club but we are not at the level of Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea or Arsenal. That’s the truth. Torres, Mascherano, Xabi Alonso … they were the foundation stone of a competitive Liverpool team. And now they’re not here.”
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 Pepe Reina.  Photo by Nigel Wilson

     This quote is from Liverpool’s goalkeeper, Pepe Reina, in response to questions about the departure of former teammate  Fernando Torres for Chelsea.  Reina’s candor is refreshing.  You don’t often see such honesty from big time athletes.  The article, by Sid Lowe, is full of great quotes.  The main thing I took from this is that Liverpool used to have a bunch of stud Spanish players, many of whom have moved on to greener pastures, and Liverpool is a bit down at the moment (highlighted by a recent loss to West Ham, a club facing the possibility of relegation to the Championship).  Reina asserts his commitment to the club despite offers from other clubs.  It remains to be seen if Reina will stay with Liverpool for the long haul.  If I were Reina’s girlfriend, wife, or club, I’d be nervous after reading this fantastic (or not so fantastic depending on where you stand) quote from Reina:

“Romance, eternal love,” he muses, “exists in very few cases. And that’s a reality you just have to accept.”




 

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William W Barnes

Creating and evangelizing world-changing products. I like Lions and Cows.
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