It’s no secret who the best two sides in the country are.
A massive hint being the 34-mile trip across the M62 to play each other, which reflects the local voracity when Man City and Liverpool come head to head.
The Premier League has been blessed with rivalries through the decades, whether it was the two Manchester clubs being split on the final day by that Aguero goal or the continuous title charges from Liverpool to knock Manchester United off their perch.
Since the arrival of Pep Guardiola at Manchester City following Jurgen Klopp’s appointment at Liverpool all the attention has been on this clash of the titans.
But is this a flash in the pan or the dawn of a new era of total possession colliding with gegenpressing in epic contests for years to come.
Takeover in 2008
It all started on September 1st, 2008 when the Abu Dhabi United Group agreed to take over Man City to turn them from mid-table challengers for the top four into title contenders with the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool.
Speaking with the creator of the Bluemoon Podcast felt a sense of excitement around the club that the takeover could have taken them to the next level.
“I don’t know what I expected as I was just happy to enjoy the ride of the club going into a new direction.
“You knew they were unrivaled in terms of spending power which has meant the business model has been consistent.
“The moment where the process was reaping the rewards was the moment we won the title in 2011/2012, the year after winning the FA Cup which was the first trophy under the new regime.”
As City was getting stronger, Liverpool after coming second in the 2008/2009 season the reds were on a downward spiral after they lost key players and had ownership issues that nearly ended in administration.
Founder and host of The Anfield Wrap Neil Atkinson felt like City’s rise was going in a different direction to Liverpool who was in a dire situation.
“It felt hyperreal for Liverpool because we had our own deeply scared owners issues meaning the situations at both clubs were chalk and cheese conversations so the city seemed over the hills and beyond from where Liverpool was at the time.”
Despite the 2013/2014 title race, there wasn’t the view that City and Liverpool were direct rivals until the two of them upgraded their manager’s department.
It was announced in January 2016 that Pep Guardiola would become Man City’s manager from the start of the 2016/2017 season which was six months after Jurgen Klopp was appointed as Liverpool manager.
These two have impacted the English game in the way fans and players now perceive it as they’ve set the bar for technical ability and work ethic in two different philosophies.
Guardiola believes in a possession-based game where he wants his side to dominate every game by playing on the ground and through the thirds of the pitch. Klopp puts more emphasis on pressing the opposition in terms of not giving them any time on the ball.
Mooney sees Guardiola as the game-changer for increasing the level of quality needed to be named champions of the Premier League.
“The bar in the league is so much higher and is responsible for coming to this country and changing the way we think of title winners. Credit needs to go to Klopp for responding to Pep and preventing a period of dominance for Man City.
“It is great the two of them are getting along but they have created a rivalry as the thing that influences the fans are City getting 98 points last season and Liverpool getting 97 which is to do with the quality of the two teams and the way they are playing.”
While Atkinson states that Klopp knew how tough of a prospect Guardiola’s City was going to be and admire the work ethic Pep gets from his side.
“I think the person most aware of the Man City and Liverpool rivalry was Jurgen Klopp.
“I don’t think Pep and City have got the credit they deserved and the reason is everyone wants to see Pep as a perfectionist and everyone wants to talk about the quality due to the money and not the courage.
“Guardiola and Klopp are different people. They don’t have to be best of friends but they do have an enormous amount of respect for each other because each can see what the other has achieved.”
“Two best managers in the world and the two managers that most epitomised the last two quantum leaps forward in football.”
Like with any footballing rivalry it is always going to spill over into the fan bases but the Champions League quarter-final at Anfield added more friction between the supporters of the two clubs.
The scenes of mass gathering of Liverpool fans greeting Manchester City’s team bus with grief and objects being thrown towards which smashed one of the front side windows made no sense to Mooney.
“A lot of City fans didn’t get the point of it because at the end of the day there is always something different about Anfield so the fans could have stayed silent the whole 90 minutes and City could have still capitulated.”
“There only was a rivalry as soon as the teams were going after the major honours which were the reason why there was one last season. Of course, there was going to be that sense of animosity between the two sets of fans.”
Atkinson alludes to the atmospheres within the stadium as the cause of escalation between Liverpool and City fans in recent years.
“People being scrappy with each other on social mediums not create a rivalry. It comes from the atmosphere of playing week in and week out at the top of the league and the fact these two are the best teams in the world at the moment.”