WHEN Liverpool and Manchester United meet it’s always one of the biggest games of the Premier League season.
Both sides are global powerhouses with a rich history and this Saturday’s match between the two teams will reignite the age-old debate as to who is the bigger club.
But what is the answer to that loaded question? Our friends at Football Whispers have been tasked with working it out.
There’s no doubt both Liverpool and Manchester United are two of the world’s biggest clubs, and undoubtedly fans and players from each side believe their team is bigger than the other.
Indeed when Romelu Lukaku arrived at Old Trafford from Everton this summer he said: ”Who would say no to the biggest club in the world?
“They have the best stadium in England. The best fans. This is the perfect opportunity. I always said I wanted to play for a team that’s challenging for every trophy that there is.
“I think Manchester United, at the minute, wants to be the dominant team, that dominant force. If you look at their history, it says enough. To become part of a club like them is something that I really wanted. I’m thankful for the opportunity that they gave me.”
Yet, when Daniel Sturridge left Chelsea for Liverpool, he claimed the Merseyside club were bigger. “In the Premier League, there is no bigger club than Liverpool,” he said in 2013.
Undoubtedly, they’ve both had incredible success throughout their history.
United have just edged it domestically. The Red Devils have won a record 20 top-flight titles, while Liverpool have 18.
But it was the Merseyside club who lifted England’s league title first, in the 1900/01 season, while United had to wait until 1907/08.
However, while United may have the upper hand in England, continentally it’s a different story.
Liverpool have won five European Cups in their history, a total only surpassed by Real Madrid and AC Milan.
United have three, but one of them was part of their historic treble-winning season of 1998/99.
The reason both sides’ supporters will believe they are England’s biggest is that over the years, the title of ‘biggest club’ has arguably swung between the two.
In the 50s and 60s, United won five league titles – 1951/52, 1955/56, 1956/57, 1964/65 and 1966/67, as well as a European Cup in 1967/78. In the same period, Liverpool won the league just twice – in 1963/64 and 1965/66.
But after Manchester United’s 1966/67 league title, the Red Devils didn’t win another until 1992/93 and in between those two titles, Liverpool definitely were the biggest club around.
They won the league 11 times and lifted four European Cups. Yet since 1989/90, the Merseyside club haven’t been English champions.
And the momentum has switched back to Manchester, with United being champions on 13 different occasions since Liverpool’s last top-flight title.
In fact, since the Merseysiders’ last major trophy – the 2011/12 League Cup, the Red Devils have won four – the 2012/13 Premier League, the 2015/16 FA Cup and the Europa League and League Cup in 2016/17.
But that doesn’t mean they’re still not a big side – their history means they have one of the largest global fanbases.
What’s more they have the Premier League’s fifth-biggest stadium, but it’s United’s Old Trafford which comes out on top.
Indeed, Liverpool are rated as the ninth-most valuable club in the world, according to a report from Brand Finance published this year.
But while they are only ninth for value, they are reportedly sixth in terms of the most powerful football brands in the world.
They do however trail Manchester United in both categories, with their rivals ranked fourth in terms of most powerful football brands and first in terms of the most valuable football clubs.
And as the game become more global and more money is poured into it, both sides are only going to get bigger and bigger.
United’s ranking will largely be down to them becoming first British club to break the half-billion pounds worth of revenue mark in 2016, something that only increased this year.
What’s more, on social media, they are also outperforming Liverpool. On Facebook, they have twice as many people who like the page, while they also have 15m Twitter followers compared to the Reds’ 8m.
At the moment, the club who are ahead in the league – United – are the biggest out of the two. But these things go in cycles and Liverpool will hope to end this one before too long. They’ll need to win a league title to start that change though.
Keep up to date with ALL the transfer news and gossip on our blog