Liverpool-Man City has become England’s ugliest rivalry

LONDON (AP) – As the Manchester City team bus left Anfield, there was a farewell.

The 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 that has turned ugly, the fiercest in the Premier League.

City manager Pep Guardiola has already successfully avoided a coin toss in his direction during the game. Liverpool, meanwhile, condemned the behavior of away fans after offensive chants related to Hillsborough – the 1989 tragedy that left 97 of its fans dead.

As fierce as the competition was on the pitch during the four-year period when the teams dominated English football, so much of the strife has died down. A person with knowledge of the bus incident said City will make a formal complaint to the FA.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because City have yet to publicly comment on the events surrounding the match. Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp’s pre-match coin-tossing comments will also be included in the appeal, he said.

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

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

Raheem Sterling’s transfer to City in 2015 signaled a shift in power from one of Europe’s traditional football giants to its newly-rich rival, bought by the Abu Dhabi royal family in 2008. As a result, the England striker was heavily criticized for what was seen as a financially motivated move.

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

Sterling has won four titles at the Etihad Stadium and 10 major trophies.

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 side crowned champions with a record 100 points.

That was Klopp’s notice of intent as Liverpool fans looked determined to terrorize City, not only with the famously terrifying atmosphere at Anfield, but also by attacking the away team bus ahead of their Champions League quarter-final tie.

The damage caused was so extensive that a replacement bus was needed to get 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 that set standards on the field that their fans didn’t live up to off it.

Liverpool said they wanted to work with City to stamp out “vile cheering”.

“The away pitch has also been vandalized with graffiti of a similar nature,” Liverpool added in a statement after Sunday’s match.

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

“Terrible,” he said. “I’m sorry. It should never happen.”

How the FA selects a game that has been overshadowed by bright spots off the pitch is not simple. It has limited jurisdiction over isolated cases of throwing objects from a crowd by individuals. And while he condemned the City fans’ chanting, he would only act normally when it comes to discrimination.

Klopp’s fate is also uncertain.

The Liverpool manager will not face an automatic suspension for his red card, the FA has announced. The governing body will review the incident before deciding whether to offer a ban and/or fine. If his behavior is deemed serious enough, he could face a hearing and potentially a more severe sentence.

If the exit from this latest stunning clash between City and Liverpool showed anything, it’s that this rivalry isn’t going away anytime soon.


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