There’s a Spanish word Morbo, which literally means disease, but in a football context means something much wider and bigger. It’s the feeling of rivalry, the weight of history, the mutual loathing between two football clubs.
When Manchester United play Liverpool there’s Morbo everywhere. Mucho Morbo. It’s the fixture I look forward to most, yet paradoxically the one I dread more than any other.
The Manchester Derby is by a large a local affair. Until recently it was so one sided that it was difficult to get wound up by it, that’s assuming they were even in the same division as us and not playing Mansfield or Stockport or someone. But the Liverpool rivalry is global. Wherever you go or wherever you live you will always find people who purport to be fans of Liverpool. They may be from Kuala Lumpur, Dublin, Oslo or Bootle, but they have the same weird sense of entitlement, the same weird cultish affection for their club, the same weird belief that they are somehow different or better.
We’ve played Liverpool in FA Cup Finals, League Cup finals, and title deciders. And more often than not we’ve won them. While they’ve been stalled on 18 since 1990, we’ve usurped and overtaken them, knocked them off their perch, to quote Sir Alex Ferguson, who realised the importance of the rivalry better than most.
United v Liverpool rivalry
It’s why this match is so important. Not only can we beat them, which is always sweet, we can dent their title ambitions. Plus a win on Sunday means we can play City later in the season and know that we can win it without having handed the Scousers a leg up in the title race.
Beating them is always important. This season it’s essential.