18 titles each, and the end of the season is on the horizon. Neither side have relived their glory days this season, and, in Liverpool's case, have seen their quality dive to an unexpected and very unwelcome low under Roy Hodgson. Replaced by Liverpool legend Kenny Dalglish, and their form picked up, but such was their deficit of the leaders, that they now have no chance of catching either United or Arsenal at the top of the table and preventing their North West rivals from taking that 19th title.
The record means "so much" according to Rooney. The young United striker may not have as deeply rooted loyalty to United than Ryan Giggs has possessed over the passed two decades, but his past with Everton has fuelled his contempt for the Reds. He said yesterday that winning the 19th title for United would mean not only so much to United fans, but Everton fans too, who love to see their rivals suffer.
"I grew up an Everton fan so to be part of the team to overtake Liverpool's record would be brilliant. It would mean so much to us players as well as the fans.
"It is something I have been thinking about a lot. I know all the Everton fans want us to do it and hopefully we can. You look forward to every game at this stage and you've got to enjoy it, especially when you are in the running for a few trophies. It is exciting for the fans and it's exciting for the players knowing that you are just a few weeks away from possibly winning a major trophy or two."Liverpool's modern team have, as it is well known, failed to win a Premier League title, and in the meantime, United have succeeded at the pinnacle of the League table time after time, even winning the title three times in a row from 06/07 to 08/09. Liverpool have only been able to watch United succeed with gritted teeth - only coming close in the 08/09 season when they achieved their highest points total of 86 which was still not enough to overcome United.
Players feel this rivalry, as Rooney showed in the quote above. Gary Neville, recently retired from United had a stunning passion for beating Liverpool, and as a result became a massive hate figure for Liverpool fans. This kind of fiery, hot-blooded conflict between players and opposing fans create that fantastic atmosphere in games. Much like Roy Keane's hatred for both Arsenal, and losing moulded the way in which the United - Arsenal games were played.
Steven Gerrard too, a talismanic figure for Liverpool who has often carried the team when many of the team dragged their heels with laziness is involved in this fight of the North West. The captain of Liverpool inspires his side at times admirably, but his main ambition to win a Premier League title has so far failed, and as he gets older, this achievement looks more and more unlikely. Gerrards banning of any Manchester United shirts in his house really sums up this burning rivalry.
Just as it means "so much" to Wayne Rooney and indeed I am sure, Ryan Giggs, it means a great deal to fans of both sides who live to see their respective teams succeed, and defeating their rivalry along the way. Whether there ferocious tackles, dubious decisions, last gasp goals or referee criticism, this is a rivalry that will continue with the same burning passion and interest for a long time.