Despite Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp’s mutual respect, off the pitch their clubs have become bitter rivals while pushing each other to new heights
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It has never been confirmed if Manchester City owner Sheikh Mansour was once a Liverpool fan.
Or whether Graeme Souness’ claim that he tried to buy the Merseysiders before transforming a club that hadn’t won a trophy in 35 years is actually true. In fact, the only City game Mansour has attended in the 14 seasons since taking charge was the 3-0 win over Liverpool in August 2010.
That was the night that former City chief Garry Cook ventured into the dressing room for the first and only time to tell Mark Hughes’ players they had to win. There’s no need to remind Pep Guardiola’s current team what’s at stake when blue meets red at the Etihad Stadium.
City vs Liverpool has become one of the fiercest rivalries in the Premier League. And while there is respect between Pep Guardiola, an enmity has seeped into both clubs. The bottle and brick attack on City’s team bus ahead of Liverpool’s 3-0 Champions League win at Anfield in April 2018 is the most vivid illustration of this.
Merseyside Police’s announcement of the route the vehicle would be taking and their refusal to agree to the city’s request to change it was compounded by their failure to make a single change. A subsequent meeting with the chief constable was described by a city official who was present as “an insult to our intelligence”.
This is the third title race between the clubs in the last nine years to see action. Steven Gerrard’s slip-up against Chelsea in 2014 allowed Manuel Pellegrinis City to win their final three games to snatch the title from Brendan Rodgers.
Three years ago, Liverpool amassed 97 points and lost a game all season – at the Etihad. But Guadiola beat Klopp by a point in the Premier League – and despite Jordan Henderson clinching his club’s first title in 30 years 12 months later, City reclaimed the crown at a gallop last season.
They seemed poised to keep it when they gained a 14-point lead in January. Guardiola described the lead as ‘fake’ as Liverpool had two games in hand – and the gap is now down to a point.
Since the start of the 2018/19 season, City have gained 338 points while Liverpool have won 337. That’s how close it is. Guardiola and Klopp have never been friends. “The best of enemies,” a City insider described their relationship.
Their rivalry dates back to their time in Germany when the Catalan won three straight Bundesliga titles with Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund couldn’t do anything about it. But at board level, it’s fair to say there’s nothing but contempt between American owners who have questioned the way their Abu Dhabi peers are funding their club.
Pool via REUTERS)
When City announced a £400m sponsorship deal with Etihad in the summer of 2011, Liverpool’s former chief executive Ian Ayre questioned its legality. Owner JW Henry took to Twitter to ask, “What was the losing bid?”
Liverpool’s stance was not forgotten when City were banned from European competition for two years and fined £25million after UEFA found them guilty of breaching Financial Fair Play regulations. City believed the verdict was based on flawed evidence, were unhappy about unofficial leaks to the media and that former Liverpool chief executive Rick Parry was involved in the investigation.
Parry had been appointed chief executive of the EFL at the time of the sentencing. City won their appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport – but were fined £10m for refusing to cooperate with the UEFA inquiry.
Ironically, Parry’s son Tom has worked as a nutritionist for City for the past 13 years and is a popular employee. Added to this is the mysterious case of an alleged computer hack. In 2013 it was reported that City had deployed a team of forensic experts to investigate whether their scouting system had been illegally accessed.
It was seven years before the FA announced it had spoken to both Liverpool and City but would take no action as the Merseysiders had paid their rivals £1million over the matter. Liverpool and City share a common enemy in Manchester United. It’s pretty much the only thing both clubs can agree on.
https://www.mirror.co.uk/sport/football/man-city-vs-liverpool-rivalry-26679882 Bitter Man City vs Liverpool rivalry explored with Man Utd stance the only thing they have in common – Simon Mullock