Liverpool and Manchester United: The Past and the Future

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Liverpool and Manchester United: The Past and the Future
(Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

To be a Liverpool fan is often to be accused of living in the past.

Since the end of Liverpool's domination of the league (timed closely to the beginning of the Premier League era), the Reds have never been slow to remind the world what they had won, and what records they held.

Every year, they'd see some other club claim a major trophy that was once considered theirs by default.

Eighteen league titles and five European Cups.

That became the mantra of every Red, for use like a shield whenever a Manchester United fan boasted of winning something. Liverpool's dominance has been over since 1990, yet throughout that time, their fans could still argue that their team was the most successful in English footballing history.

That was the one defence against the achievements of Sir Alex Ferguson and Manchester United.

But look at the statistics, and you'll soon see that this claim is on the verge of collapse. The stats no longer sit so far in Liverpool's favour. Since the start of the Premier League, United have won 10 league titles, four FA Cups, and two European Cups.

All in all, since the two clubs were formed, Liverpool have won 58 major trophies.

Manchester United currently stand with 55.

Just four more trophies, and United are officially the most successful club in England.

They're about to match Liverpool's league title record. They're two European Cups behind the Reds, and they're favourites to win it this season. If they win the Charity Shield, they'll have matched Liverpool's trophy haul. Win the European Super Cup too, and they've done it.

Within four months, it could feasibly all be over for Liverpool's claim to being the most successful English club.

Can Liverpool stop it?

They're out of the Champions League, so they can't influence United winning that.

They're behind in the league, so it's United's to lose.

It would certainly appear that hope is growing slimmer.

But perhaps this is the beginning of the end of something more than Liverpool's cherished records.

For nearly two decades, Manchester United have risen to become an Empire. If Liverpool had the 1970s and '80s, United had the '90s and Noughties.

But Liverpool, under the stewardship of Rafael Benitez, have undergone a radical change of perspective. They have a manager, following on from Gerard Houllier, who looks to the future and has no connection to the past.

There's suddenly a new atmosphere around the club and the city, and it's one that doesn't think of records and statistics other than the ones game-by-game. Win this game, move further. Win the next game, get more points. No looking back. No more hiding behind records and boasts.

Liverpool Football Club, regardless of whether or not they keep their greatest of records, will always be a great and historic institution.

Thanks to their incredible teams of the last 20 years, so will Manchester United.

The two behemoths of English football are almost equal—side by side in historic stats and league position—and are renewing their long-lost struggle to extend their trophy hauls.

Who knows—maybe in 10 years' time it'll be United fans looking back, boasting of their fine records, as another wave of the Liverpool Empire is busy writing a new future for itself.

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