We narrow down the five new potential UK derbies

          Finding English football's next big rivalry

          2020/03/20 21:22
          By Connor Andrews

          Hate has been a key part of English footballing history since time and memorial.

          From Argentina to Serbia, many of the world's most terrifying ultras groups still carry England flags as a tribute to yesteryear.

          These days though, Premier League match goers will be well aware that it's rare you find home supporters out-singing the away, while match day experience is continually lessened in favour of money.

          But the on-field action undoubtedly still has the ability to light up the stands, with foreign fans endlessly enthusing over Merseyside and Manchester Derbies. 

          And there's plenty of potential out there too, with geography, league standing, and unbeaten records causing building tension, so we take a look at the five potential next big English rivalries...

          Wolves vs Leicester
          Birmingham becomes the Midlands

          ©Getty / Malcolm Couzens

          This one doubles up on location and intensity as Wolves and Leicester sit just 53 miles apart, and keep getting closer at the top of the table. 

          While fans views on whether or not this is a ‘local’ derby take precedent, with Leicester outside of the Birmingham quartet of hate (Wolves, Aston Villa, West Brom, Birmingham) proximity definitely adds some spice, as does the fact these two are upsetting each others chances of becoming THE side to end the top six monotony in the Premier League.

          Leicester have not only put the rustiest nail in the ‘Big Six’ coffin, they’re also stating their case as a possibly regular Champions League side this season onwards. Meanwhile Wolves are having one of the most impressive campaigns in England, becoming the first non-traditional side to make a proper fist of the Europa League, whilst arguably being the most consistent team chasing Chelsea’s fourth spot, just five points short.

          Their meetings have been slightly stale recently, with no goals in both meetings this season, but these are two sides building themselves up with impressive intelligence in the boardroom and on the pitch. Both look here to stay, and if things start sparking more regularly like last season's 4-3 ding-dong, the fight for the Midlands could move from on the table, to on the pitch.

          Geography certainly helps, and this is another rivalry where hate from Birmingham emanates out into the Midlands quicker than the Peaky Blinders.

          Liverpool vs Manchester City
          The best thing since Arsenal v United?

          ©Getty / Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA

          Chelsea got in on the Liverpool hate very quickly when Jose Mourinho and Rafa Benitez began sparing in 2004, and it was pretty impressive how fast the blue and red rivalry reached levels of that between Liverpool and Manchester United, with the help of history vs money, and big European ties.

          Now though, we’re not only seeing a repeat, we’re seeing something very much more. We have hate between the fans, players and managers, we have European knockouts, and more than what we saw 16 years ago, Liverpool and Manchester City are far and away the two best sides in the country, giving their all for the league title.

          In fact, this has the potential to be as big a non-geographical rivalry as Manchester United and Arsenal during peak Ferguson vs Wenger and Vieira vs Keane.

          While it may well be contingent on how long Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp stick around, goals during matches between these two have seen stadium cameras nearly knocked off their hoardings.

          The only thing missing was someone on the red side to pick up on Vincent Kompany’s needle, with the Belgian unfortunately now gone. But next season there’s no reason why things shouldn’t get even more intense.

          Fulham vs Brentford
          Fulham pick on someone their own size

          ©Getty / 5021154

          As the most densely populated football city in the world, picking which London rival to hate the most has never been easy for fans in the capital, but Fulham’s choice of Chelsea always seemed a little odd. 

          19 games without a win dating back to 2006, you do wonder if Fulham should turn their attention elsewhere, and as it turns out, they might have to.

          Brentford have slowly been building one of the very best football projects in the country, with a brand spanking new stadium to match their impressive scouting and on field success, with every action the club are taking befitting of a Premier League side.

          Fulham have been stumbling in and out of the top flight for years, but Brentford, who clearly appreciate their West London rivalry more, look intent on challenging their spot in the top 20, with some consistency too, and for Fulham, that new extra distraction might quickly become the main focus.

          Millwall vs Charlton
          Proximity pays off

          ©Getty / Ian Walton

          On distance alone, these two should be each other’s biggest rivals, but their ire often lies north of the Thames at West Ham. 

          However, this one is a slow burner, and the needle has picked up gradually as Millwall continue to extend their 11 game unbeaten run against Charlton, dating back to 1996. All things considered, the two sides have spent a surprising lack of time in the same division, and that trend may continue with Millwall heading up the Championship table and Charlton going the other direction at a pace.

          But should they hang around, Millwall’s unbeaten run is going to do one of two things; extend or come to an end, and as with football fans in a social media age, either result will spark more and more tension.

          Two well supported sides will start to feel increasingly close the more they meet, and if there’s fireworks on the pitch, they’ll surely be matched on the terraces.

          Birmingham vs Coventry
          The tenants from hell

          ©Getty / Simon Cooper

          To say Birmingham renting out St. Andrews to Coventry has backfired would undoubtedly be hyperbolic, but they might be a little bit concerned about the Sky Blue coloured rocketship currently on it’s way up to the Championship.

          An FA Cup tie that went to 120 minutes and eventually penalties could’ve been incredibly awkward for Birmingham if they didn’t eventually see off their tenants, while the fixture saw the chant of the season, “who’s the w***** in my seat?”

          The thing is though, football fans are incredibly petty, and what started as a joke, could well be the prelude to a point of anger if Coventry and Birmingham were to start vying for potential relegation six pointers in the Championship next season.


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