Liverpool-Man City has become England’s ugliest rivalry


As the Manchester City team bus left Anfield, a farewell shot rang out.

An object allegedly thrown by home fans after Sunday’s ill-tempered 1-0 defeat by Liverpool caused a small crack in the windscreen.

It’s a rivalry turned ugly, the most bitter in the Premier League.

City coach Pep Guardiola had already successfully prevented coins from being thrown in his direction during the game. Liverpool, meanwhile, condemned the behavior of away fans after abusive chants regarding Hillsborough – the 1989 tragedy that resulted in the deaths of 97 of their fans.

As fierce as the competition on the pitch was over a four-year period in which teams dominated English football, the feud was over. A person with knowledge of the bus incident said City will lodge an official complaint with the Football Association.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity as City have yet to publicly comment on events surrounding the game. The comments of the coin toss and Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp before the game are also included in the complaint, the person said.

“There are three clubs in world football that can do whatever they want financially,” Klopp said on Friday, an apparent nod to City, Paris Saint-Germain and Newcastle, who are respectively backed by Abu Dhabi, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

Tensions between the clubs have been building for some time – dating back to their recent battle for supremacy at the top of the Premier League.

Raheem Sterling’s move to City in 2015 indicated a shift in power relations from one of European football’s traditional giants to its newly enriched rival, bought by the Abu Dhabi royals in 2008. As a result, the England striker was heavily criticized in what was perceived as a financially motivated move.

“Trophies aren’t awarded, you have to earn them,” said former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher at the time. “You have to deliver in big games and he hasn’t done that yet.”

Sterling won four titles and ten major trophies at Etihad Stadium.

But the rivalry really intensified when Klopp emerged as the biggest threat to Guardiola’s dominance.

Liverpool beat City in three straight games in the second half of the 2017-18 season, which saw Guardiola’s team crowned champions with a record 100 points.

It was a statement of intent from Klopp, while Liverpool fans seemed determined to intimidate City, not only with the famously scary atmosphere at Anfield, but by attacking the visiting team’s bus ahead of a Champions League quarter-final game.

The damage caused was so extensive that a replacement bus was needed to take the team back to Manchester.

The small crack left in the windshield on Sunday wasn’t as dramatic, but it was the latest incident involving two teams who have set standards on the field unmatched by their fans off the field .

Liverpool said it wanted to work with City to root out “vile chants”.

“The hall in the away area was also vandalized with graffiti of a similar nature,” Liverpool added in a statement after Sunday’s game.

Meanwhile, Klopp, who was sent off for angrily storming out of his technical area to protest to the assistant referee, apologized for the coin toss.

“Terrible,” he said. “I’m sorry. It was never meant to happen.”

How the FA weeds out a game that has been overshadowed by flashpoints is not easy. It has limited jurisdiction over individual incidents involving the throwing of items from the crowd by individuals. And while it has condemned City fans’ chants, it would normally only act when discrimination is at stake.

Klopp’s fate is also uncertain.

The Liverpool manager will not be automatically banned for his red card, the FA have said. The board will review the incident before deciding whether to issue a ban and/or fine. If his behavior is deemed serious enough, he could face a hearing and possibly a more severe sentence.

If the aftermath of this last riveting clash between City and Liverpool has shown anything, it’s that this rivalry is not going away anytime soon.