The Most Important Manchester Derby?
(While we all catch our breath from the Champions League,…)
Sunday, the 20th of September, 2009 marks (by my estimation) the 154th Manchester Derby. Also by my estimation, this weekend’s match is quite possibly one of, if not the most important match the 2 clubs have ever played against each other.
No one can forget the infamous Dennis Law relegation match of 1974 when Law, (a former United player, & United legend) then a City player, “back-heeled” United into the 2nd division. To City’s dismay, United made the climb back up the very next season. All wasn’t lost for United.
In the ’07-’08 Premier League season, City completed the double over United at Old Trafford on the day commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Munich air disaster. United went on to win the League & European Cup double that season while City mustered a 9th place finish & qualified for the now deceased UEFA Cup-albeit by the Fair Play ranking system. The clubs were still quite far apart in terms of ambition.
Throughout the 150+ matches the 2 clubs have played since the late 1800′s, more important fixtures exist from both side’s point of view. The point here is that for many years, City have been miles away from United in domestic & European football. They’ve lacked the ambition & winning pedigree United have possessed. That is, until now,..
For those living under a rock for the last year, the takeover of Manchester City was completed by the Abu Dhabi United Group in September of last year for 200 Million pounds. Over the summer, City spent 120 million euro on experienced players & full internationals from England, Togo, Paraguay, The Ivory Coast & Argentina. The sum spent was more than any other club in the premier league. City fans across the world quickly considered United’s ambition matched.
United currently sit 2nd in the table & considering the form of Wayne Rooney, Nemanja Vidic, Darren Fletcher & Patrice Evra, United look set to challenge Chelsea for their 4th straight league title.
Close behind (with a 100% record-having played 1 less match) sit high flying, (away fan taunting), Manchester City. With the new additions to the first team, City seem more than ready & able to match their cross town rivals & attempt an assault on the Big 4 of the Premier League. Wayne Rooney & Emmanuel Adebayor are 2nd & 3rd respectively in Premier League scoring this season. With the recent suspension of Adebayor by the FA, the Togolese striker joins 3 other attacking options for City on the bench. Robinho, Roque Santa Cruz & Carlos Tevez are all out. City will have to rely on Craig Bellamy & Benjani Mwaruwari up front if they are to breach United’s sturdy defense. The match at Old Trafford on Sunday looks set for an incredible atmosphere.
So, who’s it going to be?
Both clubs are coming off big wins & solid starts to the season. City passed their first Big 4 test last weekend with flying colors in the odd, but highly entertaining match against Arsenal. United continued their hoodoo spell over Tottenham in London with a dominating performance. I’ll keep my predictions & passions at bay for now, but am definitely expecting a great match.