Manchester United and Liverpool have one of the great football rivalries, despite not being in the same city.
The two giants of the English game continue to battle for supremacy and, whisper it quietly, the Red Devils could be on their way back to the top after having to deal with a few years of dominance from the Anfield side.
Manchester United are finding their feet again as they attempt to challenge for the Premier League title againAFP
When legendary United boss Sir Alex Ferguson joined the club, he had Liverpool in his sights from the off.
It was always part of his masterplan, and his obsession with their rivals was extremely intense, when Reds legend Alan Hansen queried a poor start to the season in 2002 for the Red Devils in a newspaper column, Fergie hit back furiously.
“My greatest challenge is not what’s happening at the moment, my greatest challenge was knocking Liverpool right off their f***ing perch. And you can print that,” he told Michael Walker a reporter for The Guardian.
But Ferguson did respect his foes – a lot, far more than you may have imagined.
Before Ferguson created a lasting legacy at Old Trafford, he made his mark at Aberdeen, starting in 1978, and Liverpool still played a lot on his mind.
As he got to work at Pittodrie he was intent on getting his new club’s fans to create a din and get behind his ambitions.
He had the Old Firm in his sights immediately and was using the English giants and their fans to inspire all around the club.
In just his third home game with the club, he took the chance to make an impression with his column in the matchday programme ahead of facing Meadowbank Thistle in the second leg of their League Cup tie.
Ferguson smiles prior to the 1982 Scottish Cup finalGetty Images – Getty
He wrote: “The one thing that has annoyed me all my life is this acceptance that Rangers and Celtic must win, that everything is geared around them, that nobody, but nobody, is expected to beat them.
“I look at everything round about me and success is staring me in the face. The one thing that is lying hidden inside people’s heads is this total belief. We have it in Beach End and that’s where we must build and develop from, right through the corridors of Pittodrie and into the dressing rooms.
“I keep getting a picture in my mind when I try and realise ambition and belief in players and the picture is of the Liverpool Kop. When you hear them sing ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ even opponents believe the Reds are going to win.”
Liverpool supporters singing their famous anthem struck a chord with FergusonAFP – Getty
The song would be sung by the club’s fans at games, although, it was sung by many clubs across both the UK and the globe such was its popularity with supporters.
But some might be stunned to find out it rang out ahead of Ferguson’s biggest success north of the border as he brought silverware to Pittodrie.
Three titles, four Scottish Cups and one Scottish League Cup, were his domestic haul and the first of those Scottish Cup wins put them into the 1982/83 European Cup Winners’ Cup.
Switzerland’s FC Sion were emphatically seen off in the preliminary round and, after qualifying for the main stage, the Dandies snuck past Dinamo Tirana and eased past Lech Poznan, before shocking Europe with a 3-2 second-leg victory over Bayern Munich, who only seven months earlier has been in the European Cup final.
Belgian club Waterschei Thor, who would later merge with K.F.C Winterslag, to form K.R.C Genk, were dispatched 5-2 on aggregate in the semi-finals, and that meant a trip to Gothenburg to face the mighty Real Madrid in the final.
Ferguson celebrates a league and cup double with Aberdeen in 1984Getty Images – Getty
Confidence was high for Ferguson going into the game, after scouting his two potential opponents when Real Madrid beat Austria Vienna in the second leg of the other semi, he rang chairman Dick Donald and reportedly said ‘I think we’re a certainty.’
And why wouldn’t you think that, especially as prior to kick off in Sweden his club’s supporters belted out ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’, which you can hear in the interview with Jock Stein below.
Even their storied opponents might have believed Aberdeen were going to win.
Jock Stein assesses Aberdeen’s chances of overcoming Real ahead of the match.
“They are playing a myth”. pic.twitter.com/Sccujsh8ux
— Here We Go! – The Aberdeen FC Podcast (@AFCHereWeGo) May 11, 2020
It did take extra-time after the scores were level 1-1 at the end of the 90 minutes, but John Hewitt’s header handed Ferguson and his men a 2-1 triumph in Sweden, putting Ferguson further on course for greater things.
And he would later knock Liverpool off that ‘f***ing perch’ too.