Written by: Tucker Holt and Ian Hamilton
Out of all the Rivalries in Britain there has been none as important as the Manchester Derby in recent years. In fact the last 3 Premier League Titles have been hoisted by players sporting sky blue or red. The 4.5 miles that separate the Etihad from Old Trafford has become particularly contensious since the introduction of the Dubai influence that turned the Rowdy Neighbors into a world power. We start our 10 part series with a look into the Northwest Rivalry that defines derby’s in both Quality and Brutality.
Base City: Manchester, England
Stadium: Old Trafford
Titles Won: 20
Manchester United is the most successful Premier League team in the way of number of titles. Though success for the Red Devils has been scattered throughout the last century, a Scot by the name of Alex Ferguson turned the side from a “yo-yo” club into a model of consistency and a worldwide brand. Under his 33 year reign, Ferguson was able to win 13 titles and a knight hood. However, after last years successful title run, Sir Alex retired leaving one of the most demanding managerial seats in all of sports open. Enter David Moyes, a fellow Scot and a long time manager of a consistently overachieving Everton, to the vacant seat.
Manchester United currently sports one of the most potent attacking duos in the soccer world. The Flying Dutchman and Rooney’s new hair have made for quite the pair since Robin Van Persie’s abdication of his Arsenal throne. Combine the two with a midfield full of attacking options and the Rivera like constancy of players such as the Welshman Ryan Giggs and Centerback Nemanja Vidic, United have plenty of ability to defend their title. However, the transition from Merseyside Blue to Manchester Red has not gone as smooth as the Glazers (owners) would have liked. United have gotten out to a slow troubling start dropping points to lesser sides such as West Brom and much hated rivals in Liverpool and Manchester City.
The Red Devils will have to look to this January’s transfer window to improve their squad to contend with a much improved Premier League. Even though Moyes strengthened his side by bringing over Belgian Marouane Fellaini from his previous appointment Everton, the side seems to lack creativity. The likes of Giggs or Kagawa could help improve the United side but the lack of playing time seems to suggest disapproval from Moyes. Also, the Scot seems to be content with his current arsenal, even if they seem stagnant. However the emergence of the multi-ethnic Januzaj could add some excitement to the Trafford side. Look for a potential bid for Leighton Baines to help the aging back line in January, and, for United’s sake, a creative midfielder.
Base City: Manchester, England
Stadium: Ethiad Stadium
Titles Won: 3
Ah, Manchester City, you couldn’t pick a side that’s more opposite than its cross town rival than the City. Where their cross-city rival has been the model of consistency, city took it upon themselves to give their fans more of the rollercoaster ride. Hey what’s the fun in supporting a club if they make your life easy and just win all the time right? Over the last decade, City have found themselves at the very top of the Premier League to the cellar and relegated into the championship. United has traditionally been built on a steady youth system and solid coaching, city has taken the “Chelsea” route into building a viable champions league side year in and year out.
In 2008 City went through a take over by the Abu Dhabi United Group and owner Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak arrived on the scene and over the next two years city would start a complete roster overhaul. Staying true to the Chelsea system for building a team the new owners started by breaking the British transfer record by signing Robinho from Spanish power Real Madrid for 32.5M. The following year they brought in Gareth Barry, Yaya Toure, Emmanuel Adebayor, Carlos Tevez and Joleon Lescott to name a few for a whopping 100 million pounds. The final piece to the city revival was hiring the always fiery Italian, Roberto Manchini. The following year, in what would go down as probably the most exciting premier league seasons in its long history, Manchester City took the title away from rivals United. After trying their best to pull the “Typical City” and lose to a 10 man QPR side at home on the final day, Sergio Kun Aguero put home the greatest goal in City’s history. It took 44 years but the sky blues took what they felt was rightfully theirs back to their side of Manchester.
However, you cant be the biggest roller coaster without the occasional drops, twists and turns. After unsuccessfully being able to retain their title and giving it back to Fergies boys across the street, failing to get out of Champions League group play and losing to a soon to be relegated Wigan side in the FA Cup final, the writing was on the wall for Manchini. At seasons end Manchini was sacked and in came Chilean Manuel Pellegrini. Manuel came from Spanish side Malaga after a successful Champions League run and solid domestic league finish with a significantly less talented squad it was an easy choice for city. First order of business was for Pellegrini sharpen up the finishing product that was lacking for City in the previous season. Out went Carlos Tevez to Juventes, and previous to Manuel arriving, City sent Mario Ballelli to AC Milan, in came Alavero Negredo, Fernandinho, and Jesus Navas.
Coming into the year Manchester City looked to be co-favorites with Chelsea to lift the cup at years end. After an opening 4-0 thumping of Newcastle in the opening weekend the premature crown seemed to be with city. However the problems that loomed over city the previous season with shaky goaltending and inconsistent play week to week continued. In their up and down year this year city have seen themselves lose away at Cardiff City, Aston Villa but show dominating performances at home against Newcastle, Hull, Everton and most importantly a 4-1 drubbing of their big brother United at the Ethiad.
It’s still early on in the season and the Pelligrini is still trying to put his imprint on the squad, but unless he can clean up some of the inconsistent play away from home, its tough seeing city take a chokehold on the title. Call me crazy but if Joe Hart continues this run of poor goalkeeping does City look to adding another keeper in the January transfer window? Because right now I’m not even sure he is even the best keeper in England. I definitely think this is something to keep your eyes on in the month of December because a poor run of form could spell the start of a change in net for City. That being said even with the back four (five if you include Hart) issues at the Ethiad, if there was ever a year where you can stumble your way into a title it seems this is the year. And if United continue to struggle the pressure will stay off City. But anything short of a title would have to be considered a loss for the “little brothers” of Manchester.