Manchester United and Leeds: A rivalry which can be traced back to the 15th century
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 14: The Manchester United and Leeds United Club Badges displayed on their home shirts on October 14, 2020 in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Visionhaus)

For the first time since February 2004, two historical rivals will take to the field in the Premier League at Old Trafford on Sunday. Manchester United take on Leeds United in a game that promises to be an absolute blockbuster on the pitch with a massive narrative off it which dates the rivalry to as back as the 15th century. It's much more than just a game.

War of the Roses

A series of English civil wars spanning over 32 years in the 15th century fought between the House of Lancaster and the House of York to gain control of the throne of England. A red rose represented the House of Lancaster and a white rose represented the House of York. Even though these wars took place about six centuries ago, the sense of bitterness between these two sides in present-day England has never really disappeared. 

And, the very fact that one of these football clubs plays in red while the other plays in white seems to emphasize the historical link that this fixture has to it. 

The Industrial Revolution

Moving ahead from the War of the Roses, Manchester and Leeds were rivals for business in 18th and 19th century during the Industrial Revolution. The two cities have also always vied for having the status of Northern capital of England.

Even today, there is intense competition between the two cities when it comes to new companies making investments in these cities. 

The Football Angle: The main picture

In football terms, the post-World-War II era saw Sir Matt Busby's Man United as the dominant force in England while Don Revie's Leeds were considered to be a very tough side with an extremely physical style of play.

Punches were thrown in the 1965 FA Cup final between the two sides; a game that ended 0-0 with the drama of Leeds winning the replay with a last-gasp winner. Man United, meanwhile probably had the last laugh by beating Leeds to the league title with a better goal ratio that season.

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Hooliganism between the Leeds United Service Crew and Man United's Red Army, the transfers of key players such as Eric Cantona, Rio Ferdinand and Alan Smith to Man United and Lee Sharpe to Leeds United have all in their own right contributed towards adding the bitterness and feistiness in a rivalry that was always hot to handle.

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As Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Marcelo Bielsa prepare to lead these historic rivals out to the latest edition of this absolute blockbuster of a game, there are certainly no doubts that this promises to be a really open and fast-paced game of football with really compelling narratives both on and off the pitch.

All in all, Manchester United vs Leeds United promises to be a fixture full of passion, emotions, bitterness and feistiness and that, definitely makes it more than just a game.