Last October saw the first Merseyside derby where Liverpool did not have a single Scouser in their squad. It was a similar story when Manchester United faced off against Liverpool in September, with neither side having any local talent on show.
So it begs the question, with local talent being neglected a lot more in English football these days, is the magic of local derbies dying out?
Everyone expected last weekend’s Premier League meeting between Liverpool and Man United to be a heated affair. It was heated, but it was also a boring game to match. A Merseysider did score, but sadly for Liverpool, it was for Manchester United, as Wayne Rooney grabbed the only goal of the game late on.
It highlights that for local talent, it is a lot harder to break into teams now, which means localised magic is perhaps no more.
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Gone are the days when derbies between the two Manchester clubs, or Man United v Liverpool, boasted local players like Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs, Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher on the team sheets. For City, you could argue it ended a longer time ago when their foreign owners bought the club.
With clubs now looking abroad instead of promoting from within, it means there may no longer be personal vendettas when local teams play each other.
When you consider in the 70s, 80s and 90s, derbies like Liverpool/Manchester United, Arsenal/Tottenham, Manchester United/Manchester City, Liverpool/Everton, Bournemouth/Southampton, West Ham/Chelsea were very heated, it seems that these matches are often now anti-climaxes.
This is mainly due to not only a difference in the players being bought in, but also managers who don’t particularly understand the true meaning and history of these matches.
However, the magic of the derbies may not have completely disappeared. Down in the lower leagues, there are teams who would love to play against their rivals regularly. Southampton’s biggest rival, Portsmouth, are languishing in League Two. Similarly, West Brom and Aston Villa will both miss clashes with Wolves and Birmingham, who are in the Championship. The Midlands derbies are heated affairs, and have been for many years.
For Leicester, a derby against Nottingham Forest or Derby Country would be a heated affair if it wasn’t for the fact the latter two are in the Championship.
The magic does live on a little though in the Premier League, with Sunderland and Newcastle sharing heated encounters. With Middlesbrough fighting for promotion in the Championship, and should those two stay up, then it would add some passion and rivalry up in the North East.
Maybe the magic of derbies has been diminished by the lack of localised players at the clubs. However, one thing that never stops is the passion of the fans.
All they need now is more passion from the players…