Toxic rivalry is rife in football

MANCHESTER CITY hammered Liverpool 4-1 on April 1, underlining how much things have changed since Jürgen Klopp seemed to know exactly how to deal with Pep Guardiola’s team.

The rivalry between the two clubs was , not so long ago, the decisive factor in a season, but it was a brief two-horse race. While Liverpool’s team has largely burned out, City have accelerated once more and it’s now up to Klopp (or his successor) to rebuild and reset.

Liverpool fans seem to hate City and everything they stand for. Part of this is resentment that their financial advantages make it difficult for their club to keep pace, the rest is all about a head-to-head between Klopp and Guardiola and the cultural differences between the fans. And then there’s the “you’ve got no history” argument, which implies that clubs with glorious back stories should always be the clubs in command of silverware.

Manchester City fans attacked the Liverpool coach which has, understandably, outraged some people on Merseyside. However, the City faithful will argue that their own coach came under fire at Anfield a couple of years ago. Such behaviour is unacceptable no matter which club is involved. There can be no excuse for violence of this nature.

A photo is doing the rounds that shows Guardiola over-celebrating in front of Liverpool players. While it is true he got a little carried away, the photo has been used out of context by some eager fans who want to emphasise the hard-nosed arrogance of City and arguably the best coach in the world. Guardiola should have been more controlled, but he who casts the first stone etc.

The theory that Guardiola can only work with money is a ludicrous statement, because it is precisely because he can produce results that attracts a club to him in the first place. A club with City’s wealth is not going to hire someone who is unused to working at the top level with highly-paid thoroughbreds.

When Klopp leaves Liverpool, he won’t be going to Carl Zeiss Jena, Rochdale or Siena, he will be aiming for a blue-riband club with money. The dynamic between Manchester City and Liverpool looks very unhealthy, but it is a rivalry for our very troubled times; adversarial politics, hatred of bonused bankers, champagne socialism in middle England’s well-heeled towns and fake nationalism. In so many walks of life, it has become a case of “you’re either with us or against us”. Political differences come from enemies not opponents. “Freedom of speech is allowed, but perish the thought if it conflicts with what I believe.”

Aggression between football fans goes back decades and thankfully, the hooligan days of the 1970s and 1980s are behind us, but there seems to be a creeping menace that could yet morph into something very unpleasant. We need to watch carefully.

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