Liverpool fans were able to laugh at their rivals Manchester United for decades. While United could claim to be the first English side to win the European Cup, Liverpool went on totally outperform them with their record on the continent and at home.
United went 26 years without winning the title while Liverpool won it 18 times. United could only claim seven by the time Sir Alex Ferguson was appointed.
The tables have turned since then though, with United becoming the most successful English club. Ahead of Saturday’s match between the two, here are some of the most entertaining and satisfying occasions where United have managed to get the last laugh.
With United and Liverpool chasing the league title in the 2008-09 season, plenty was at stake. United had won the league two years on the bounce and were gunning for Liverpool’s title record.
At the turn of the year, Liverpool were top of the table with a few games in hand following United’s exploits to win the FIFA Club World Cup in December.
Rafa Benitez, who was responsible for the so called ‘Rafalution’ at Liverpool, decided to dedicate his pre-match press conference for their game against Stoke to United.
The manager showed up with a piece of paper and informed the press he wanted to share some “facts” with them.
Ferguson later commented that he knew then how “troubled” Benitez was.
Steven Gerrard later reflected on the moment, saying: “Rafa was sounding muddled and bitter and paranoid. He was humiliating himself. It was a disaster. When I met up with England all the Manchester United players told me Fergie was just laughing at Rafa, saying: ‘I’ve got him. I’ve got him.’”
The United players were right. Liverpool went on to draw their next three league games and United went on to win the league.
Carragher’s own goals
United played Liverpool at Anfield just a couple of months after winning the unprecedented treble in 1999. In 1977, Liverpool came close to winning all three major trophies, but United beat them in the FA Cup final, so the visiting fans took full advantage of rubbing in their recent glory.
To add insult to injury, it was Jamie Carragher who scored United’s first goal that day, with his header putting them 1-0 up after just three minutes.
Andy Cole doubled United’s lead before Liverpool pulled one back, only for Carragher to score another own goal just before half-time. United won the game 3-2 thanks to the goals from Mr Liverpool.
He made the scousers cry
Diego Forlan had a difficult start to life at United. Having signed in the January transfer window in 2002, he made 18 appearances before the season ended, failing to score once.
His start to the following season didn’t do much to reassure the supporters that the striker had what it took to succeed at United. With 40 games played, he had just three goals to his name, and then he went to Anfield.
Liverpool were unbeaten at home for over a year and United were missing several key players with injury.
With over an hour played, Jerzey Dudek allowed a Carragher header to slip between his legs and Forlan pounced on an easy tap-in to make it 1-0. Two minutes later, Ryan Giggs played Forlan in and his powerful shot beat Dudek again.
Just a few months ago, 15 years after his Anfield goals, United fans sung his chant, leading Jose Mourinho to question “Who’s Diego?.
Michael Carrick educated him. He came from Uruguay, he made the scousers cry.
Gerrard’s red card
Brendan Rodgers decided to drop Gerrard to the bench for United’s visit to Liverpool in the 2014-15 season. Two months earlier the Liverpool captain had announced that he would be retiring at the end of the season, meaning this was the last time he would play against his hated rivals.
Liverpool had gone in 1-0 down at half-time and Gerrard was set to come on at the start of the second half. The previous season, his slip against Chelsea cost Liverpool the title, and United fans were keen to remind him all about it.
“As I warmed up, the United fans opened their throats,” Gerrard later reflected. “They pelted me with abuse — and their favourite song echoed around the away end: ‘Steve Gerrard, Gerrard… he slipped on his f*****g arse, he gave it to Demba Ba… Steve Gerrard, Gerrard…’
After a while, when they got bored, they swapped it for another chestnut: ‘You nearly won the league, you nearly won the league… and now you better believe it, now you better believe it, now you better believe it, you nearly won the league.’
The anger in the caged animal grew and grew. United were swaggering, Anfield was very quiet.”
Ander Herrera made a tackle on Gerrard who, frustrated by the mocking from the away end, stamped on the Spaniard, and he was sent off. He had been on the field for 38 seconds.
“Have you ever seen Gerrard win the league? Have you f**k!” crowed the United fans. United won 2-1.
Michael Owen joined Liverpool when he was just 14 and is the club’s eighth highest scorer. After almost a decade in their first team, he left for Real Madrid, before returning to England to sign for Newcastle.
In one of the biggest surprises in Premier League transfer history, Owen signed for United in the summer of 2009.
“I agreed without a moment’s thought,” Owen revealed, following a phone call from Ferguson.
The striker spent three seasons at United and won the league in 2011. As if that wasn’t frustrating enough for Liverpool supporters, as their wait for a title continues, the club named him their ambassador four years after he left United.
In May, when working as a pundit for BT Sport during the Europa League final between United and Ajax, he referred to Liverpool’s bitter rivals as “we”. Liverpool fans promptly launched a petition to have him removed as a club ambassador. They failed.
Supporters always want to see their team beat their biggest rivals but if they can do it in a way that inflicts the most pain on the opposition fans, it’s even better. United are spoilt for choice in this regard, but we can narrow it down to a top three.
In the 1996 FA Cup final, the Liverpool team showed up at Wembley looking like mugs in their white suits and sunglasses. Ferguson later he revealed he knew United would win the moment he saw them.
Eric Cantona broke the scousers’ hearts with his 86th minute winner that saw United claim the double. The footage of him running to the Wembley crowd, grabbing his United shirt, is enough to bring out goosebumps no matter how many times you’ve watched the footage.
In the fourth round of the FA Cup in 1999, on the way to United winning the treble, Liverpool played at Old Trafford. Owen snatched an early lead for the visitors and United looked to be going out of the competition.
Then, in the 89th minute, David Beckham delivered a free-kick to the back post which Andy Cole headed in to the path of Dwight Yorke for a tap in. In the 92nd minute, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer scored to make it 2-1, proudly holding up the United badge on his shirt to the Stretford End, booking his team’s place in the next round.
Another fans’ favourite was the trip to Anfield in 2007. With United chasing their first title in four years, a victory over Liverpool was needed to keep Chelsea at bay. Paul Scholes got sent off in the final few minutes and it looked like United would have to make do with a draw.
In the 91st minute, a Cristiano Ronaldo freekick was drilled in to the box and the ball fell to O’Shea, who put it in the roof of the net.
“The 90th minute at Anfield, in front of the Kop,” O’Shea said beaming in his post-match interview. “Gary Neville’s just told me that is his dream and I’ve just gone and done it!”
After years of waiting, Ferguson’s team travelled to Anfield as champions after becoming the first side to win the newly named Premier League. As much as that title may have hurt Liverpool fans, they could laugh it off.
“Au revoir Cantona and Man United. Come back when you’ve won 18” read their banner.
Even United fans had to expect that if their team did manage to win the league a further 10 times, Liverpool would have expanded their lead to at least 30 titles. Only three years had passed since Liverpool had last won the league so nobody then could have believed what would unfold.
United won the league again, and again, and again, and Liverpool’s record came under threat. The drama reached a climax in the 2008-09 season when the two rivals battled it out to win the league. If Liverpool won the league, it would become 19-17, and if United won, they would draw level.
United spent the season chanting “Champions of England! Champions of Europe!” as well as winning the FIFA World Club Cup. Despite topping the table in the new year, Liverpool crumbled following Rafa’s rant.
Ferguson’s side eventually won by four points. Two years later, they won it again, and two years after that, again. 20-18, and that’s a fact.