Sports

What makes a good derby? Anatomy of the Merseyside, Manchester rivalries – (blog)

As for Manchester#8217;s on-pitch relations, it all boils down to one #8220;tackle#8221; and the most notable incident since City#8217;s Denis Law back-heeled his old club United toward the the second tier in 1974. Roy Keane#8217;s knee-high revenge mission on Alf-Inge Haaland in 2001 was summed up quite tidily in his own autobiography.

#8220;I#8217;d waited long enough. I f#8212;ing hit him hard. The ball was there, I think. Take that you f#8212;. And don#8217;t ever stand over me again sneering about fake injuries. I didn#8217;t wait for Mr. [David] Elleray to show the red card. I turned and walked to the dressing room.#8221;

One of football#8217;s most enduring currencies that flows back-and-forth within and between cities for decades, #8220;bragging rights#8221; is a phrase you read a lot and hear a bit but should never say out loud yourself. It probably used to be quite a charming post-derby phenomenon, on a par with a bit of gentle ribbing in the office on a Monday morning.

In reality, of course, derbies are far from immune to the hard truths. Everton might consider themselves a stern test for Liverpool, but they haven#8217;t beaten them in the past 14 Premier League Merseyside derbies #8212; and, indeed, only twice in the last 24.

Of course, there#8217;s still room for some instinctive and creative ways to project one#8217;s superiority complex. In 2012, for example, Luis Suarez responded to some thinly veiled comments from David Moyes about his occasional acts of gamesmanship by scoring for Liverpool at Goodison Park and then gleefully throwing himself to the floor in front of the home bench. Football pantomime at its petty finest.

#8220;Nemanja Matic is injured but will play for sure,#8221; said Mourinho this week, presumably lulling the City midfield into a false sense of security. #8220;I#8217;m telling the truth! It#8217;s the truth. No stories of [Alexandre] Lacazette or David Silva. All the truth. Our opponents have all these issues. They have a big issue, but in the end, everybody is ready to play.#8221;

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