The Importance of the War of the Roses Derby (Manchester United v. Leeds United)

The War of the Roses were a series of English civil wars for control of the throne of England during the 15th century, between the houses of Lancaster (Lancashire) and York (Yorkshire). While the war ended in 1487, citizens from Lancashire and Yorkshire still to this day have a heavy dislike towards each other.

This rivalry between Lancaster and York is ever-present in football today, through Manchester United (being historically a part of Lancashire) and Leeds United (Yorkshire). However, due to Leeds being in the EFL Championship the rivalry has been put on ice since 2011. With Leeds being crowned winners of the Championship, the rivalry will be renewed in the Premier League next season. Regardless, this rivalry has a fascinating history, world-class players participating, and a future that promises to make this fixture continue to be important.


The rivalry played its first game in 1906 and has had 108 meetings since. Manchester United have won 47 of those games, while Leeds have won 27 and drawn 35. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, the rivalry was at its peak. The focus was often on the world-class managers that both clubs had. Manchester United’s manager Sir Matt Busby and Leed’s manager Don Revie both elevated the rivalry and led the clubs to some of their biggest successes. After Leeds was relegated in 1982, the rivalry was put on hold.

8 years after being relegated Leeds came back to the top tier of English football. In the 1992 campaign, Leeds won their last title, standing 4 points clear of second-place Manchester United. In November the following season, Manchester bought Eric Cantona from Leeds. The signing was a catalyst for Fergie as Manchester United surpassed Leeds that season and never looked back. Since 1993, United have won 13 top-flight league titles, 2 Champions Leagues, and 5 FA Cups, compared to Leeds’ 0 in any competition mentioned above.

Eric Cantona playing for both Leeds and Manchester United, respectively.


Many notable players have spent time in the locker rooms as part of both teams. As mentioned above, Eric Cantona joined United after winning the league title with Leeds just the season before. He went on to lift 4 Premier League trophies in 5 seasons with Manchester United. Lee Sharpe signed for Manchester United in 1988. He eventually was forced out of his position by Ryan Giggs. He joined Leeds in 1996.

Alan Smith joined Manchester United from Leeds during the financial struggle at Elland Road in 2004. Rio Ferdinand played 2 seasons for Leeds before joining Manchester United in a record deal in 2002. Now, being one of the most decorated defenders of all time, United made the right call in the transfer market with Rio.


For the first time since 2011, the rivalry will be renewed in the Premier League next season. Both Manchester United and Leeds have promising players in their squad. Leeds’ Kalvin Phillips, Tyler Roberts, and Ben White could challenge Manchester United’s prospects of Mason Greenwood, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, and Scott Mctominay.

With Leeds winning the EFL Championship, the War of Roses could soon be reignited when Manchester United meets them in the top flight next season.

Glory Glory Man United.

Written by CJ Szaz.

About CJ Szaz 64 Articles
A Red Devil for Life from the Queen City

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