Giggs claims Liverpool not City are United's biggest rivals - Is he right?

Etihad Stadium

Manchester United veteran Ryan Giggs has dismissed the notion that Manchester City are his club’s true rivals – insisting instead that Liverpool are United’s greatest foes.

In the run up to Sunday’s first Manchester derby of the season, Giggs played down the fixture as just another game worth three points in the Premier League.

"It doesn't mean anything extra because it is City," he claimed.

"There are different rivalries. Liverpool has always been the biggest rival for me. It has always been the biggest test."

However, I’m inclined to take the Welshman’s comments with a pinch of salt – I suspect this claim is more a backhanded compliment, or an insult disguised as ambivalence, aimed right in the direction of Manchester City.

The Manchester derby clash has always been one of a ferocious nature but, in Giggs’ defence, City were in recent history no real match for United and, in the league, posed no significant threat to their dominance.

Liverpool, up until the last decade perhaps, were their biggest rivals for titles and trophies – when they met earlier this season, the now almost obligatory chants from both teams regarding the Hillsborough disaster and the Munich air crash were, although not entirely abandoned, had certainly subsided.

Before the honourable Sheikh Mansour arrived with his deep pockets and ambitious designs, the noisy neighbours hadn’t won the top tier title since 1968. Liverpool and, to a lesser extent, Arsenal were the biggest fish to fry for United, as Giggs was quick to point out.

"Arsenal were a brilliant team and we had some ferocious battles with them. Chelsea were also a brilliant team under Mourinho and now City are a good team as well.”

The past tense here is illuminating to me – I think Giggs is speaking tongue-in-cheek, knowing full well that both City and Chelsea are still capable of causing them problems. Equally, his comments don’t correlate within the context of last season.

City did the double (perhaps, treble) over United – beating them both at home and away, and then snatching the title from them in the final minute of the final game of the season – something no true United fan would have taken lightly. I’m sure it hurt and, despite Giggs’ apparent nonchalance, I think United will be out for revenge on Sunday.

He added,

"The added dynamic is that they are on our doorstep. But we still want to win the league no matter who we are competing against."

That added dynamic of close proximity may not be as much of a factor to the players as it is to the fans but lest he forget, for both sets of supporters, there is a highly prestigious prize up for grabs: bragging rights.

images: © Paolo Camera, © Free-ers

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