It’s been confirmed that Manchester City will give Premier League champions Liverpool a guard of honour when the two teams meet at the Etihad on Thursday.
“We will greet Liverpool, when they come to our house, in an incredible way,” City boss Pep Guardiola said this week. “We are going to do it because they deserve it.”
That’s very gracious of Pep. He didn’t have to – there’s nothing actually in the Premier League guidebook that officially obliges a club to give one. Think of it more like a gentleman’s agreement.
The guard of honour is given when one team wins the league early doors and it’s not a brand new thing – Manchester United gave one to Chelsea in 1955.
Anyway, before it’s even happened, this one’s already started some controversy
Former Liverpool midfielder Danny Murphy decided to torch a few bridges this week by calling the whole thing a farce.
He said that it was ridiculous to have City’s Kevin de Bruyne clapping for players who ‘couldn’t lace his boots’.
Either way, Liverpool fans will surely be licking their lips at the prospect of watching their rivals doff their caps on home turf.
Is it the saltiest guard of honour yet? The absence of braying fans makes it notably less so. Plus, there have been some other good ones.
1. Manchester United say well done to Chelsea – 2004-05
The 2004-05 season was won by a young upstart called Jose Mourinho, in his maiden season as Chelsea boss. It was their first league title in the Premier League era.
Given the novelty, one can understand Sir Alex Ferguson’s good grace in letting the Blues have their day at Old Trafford.
The Manchester United manager may not have realised though that he would be entering into a proper power struggle and that it would be 2007 before he won another title.
Either way, the United fans in the Stretford End were not so welcoming and Chelsea were roundly booed onto the pitch.
2. Chelsea eat humble pie for Manchester United – 2006-07
Fergie had to wait two years to get his payback.
By this time, it was a proper rivalry. The two teams would go on to face one another in the Champions League Final in 2008.
Fergie showed the degree of respect he held for his counterparts by giving a start to a few youngsters, including Fangzhou Dong.
3. Arsenal give it up for Manchester United – 2013-14
It’s always tough seeing your ex with their new BAE. Especially when it seems like they’ve gone on to better things.
Let alone the ignominy of having to clap their old foes onto the field, long after being real title challengers – this was also striker Robin van Persie’s first return to the Emirates since leaving Arsenal for Manchester United.
He also scored a penalty that day.
Look. Away. Now.
4. Liverpool give Chelsea their dues – 2014-15
Chelsea actually helped to hand the title to Liverpool this year, when they beat Manchester City after the resumption of the Premier League.
That will feel extra sweet on the Kop, given the amount of grief they’ve had from Chelsea and Chelsea fans over the years – not least that time in the 2013-14 season when a Steven Gerrard slip against the Blues proved costly as Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool side let the title slide from their grasp.
After that near-miss, Liverpool finished way off the pace in 2014-15 – only managing fifth. They will not have enjoyed having to clap Mourinho’s men as they picked up their third Premier League title with him.
You can imagine the kind of abuse that poor Steven was subjected to as well. Ouch.
5. Barcelona congratulate Real Madrid – 2007-08
Of course – the Premier League didn’t invent rivalry. They don’t come saltier than this.
Barcelona had a stinky season that year and finished 18 points off the top. To really rub their noses in it, they were rolled over 4-1 at the Bernabeu on the day.
One to forget for the Catalan lads.
Oh – and, just as an extra spicy side to that story – when the tables were turned in 2018, Real refused to repay the favour.
That’s gratitude hey.
There you go – happens to the best of us.