City vs Liverpool, for now, does not compare. “It’s different because there is no needle between the two teams. The game has changed in terms of what you can get away with.
Guardiola and Klopp seem as opposed to the needle as they are to antivaxxers. Ahead of the game, Guardiola said of Klopp that he ‘makes this world, football, a better place to live’. How wonderful, let’s all open a Coke and break out into song on a hill. After that, Klopp said “It was a lot of fun, I liked it”, as if he hadn’t just managed second against first in the Premier League, but football. Aid.
Sometimes, watching and listening to the love in the days around the game, I felt like I accidentally skipped over to the Masters, a competition that devotes at least 70% of its coverage to the magic of it all.
Football is not golf. Some boring people who prefer other sports (yes, we’re looking at you rugby) think football fans should be embarrassed to take advantage of aggro. It’s clear that no sane fan craves actual violence, but it’s hard to take the rivalry between City and Liverpool seriously as long as it remains so polite.
Approval on this scale really has no place in games this big. This removes a level of volatility for high-stakes matches and until the mind-numbing mutual respect is eroded, City vs Liverpool will not achieve the English ‘clasico’ status it could have.
After two great draws between great teams playing football, all we need is hate, and it’s sure to come one way or another in their semi-final of the FA Cup this Saturday. Both managers are terrible losers, as you have to be to reach their level. The war of compliments ends here.
Moreover, familiarity breeds contempt. “The rivalry was built and built over time,” says Arsenal’s Nigel Winterburn against Man Utd. “As both teams started to develop we both felt that if you beat the other there was a good chance you would win the league which is why it got so intense .”
The plot remains, now we need a little emotion.