Rivalry in football still alive, though Man City-Liverpool clash didn’t have it

In the build-up to the Manchester City vs Liverpool title decider last Sunday, ex-Liverpool talisman, Jamie Carragher billed the match as the most intense, highest quality, and the greatest rivalry in the history of the Premier League.

I took that with a dollop of salt as it came from someone with very strong links to one of the clubs in question.

It triggered a debate all over the world on the justification of his comments. I feel to answer that question, one must first quantify a rivalry.

A rivalry means more than just a Cup final or a title-deciding match. There has to be some spice and needle in it, there has to be a genuine ‘hatred’ between the two teams, starting from the managers, down to the players and fans.

On both sides of the fence, it should feel like the end of the world if one lost to the other. That is what a rivalry should be like.

In the history of the Premier League, there is only one title rivalry that fits the bill, and that is between Manchester United and Arsenal that began in 2005, when in a tight Highbury tunnel, the two captains, Patrick Viera and Roy Keane, had a go at each other.

Both managers, Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger, despised each other at the height of battle. But as the threat of Arsenal waned, that animosity gave way to mutual respect.

Both set of players hated each other, with red cards not uncommon in matches between the two, and with scuffles breaking out before, during and after the games.

Fans would never see players greeting their opponents before, or after a match, never a good word exchanged in public. This is what a rivalry really is.

Manchester City and Liverpool are the two best teams in England in the last four years. They have been the most consistent teams with the highest quality, in fact, among the best in Europe, as well.

When you watch them play each other, you expect a top-quality display of football, but their matches lack the needle and fire to be considered a true rivalry.

There was plenty of mutual respect and love between players and managers, as seen at full-time at the Etihad Stadium. I can’t imagine Manchester United and Arsenal players and managers being so chummy on the pitch at the end of a top-of-the-table clash.

Football has evolved, but is this the result of that evolution? Do teams no longer share intense rivalry anymore? Some might welcome this change as it provides a healthier and more positive image of the game

But if you watch football from other parts of the world, rivalry in the actual sense, is still being contested.

Give me the real rivalry any day over this nauseatic display of love and affection.

Football has not changed so much that rivalries no longer exist. It’s still present. Unfortunately, it is certainly not what Manchester City and Liverpool share.

This is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of Twentytwo13.