As the Manchester clubs line up against each other this weekend, we shall be viewing two very different clubs. One aspirant, the other dominant.
Whatever the result, City have a hell of a long journey to walk before they can even see the lofty peak that United currently inhabit.
I think we take United’s success for granted to the point where we almost blank it out now. We’re so used to them winning trophies that to the neutral fan, there is nothing exceptional or notable about it anymore. But if you pause for a minute and take a look at their 20 year haul, it is incredible by any team’s standards: 11 league titles, probably 12 with this year’s looking already in the bag. It’s amazing. Add in the FA and League Cups and a couple of Champions Leagues too. Incredible. Even this season when they haven’t always been that good, they have never let their winning spirit flag. They are winners. It comes with the DNA of the club now and if you’re not a winner you won’t last long at Old Trafford. The will to win and the determination to beat your opponents, even if they have better players than you, is what defines them. They just don’t know when they are beaten and no amount of money can buy that. It is ingrained into the character of the players by the club and the manager.
Critics can point to the money spent etc but time and again we see that money spent, while it might improve league position simply doesn’t guarantee success, as City are proving in the league.
Sir Alex Ferguson and the club cannot afford to be complacent. God knows it would be easy to be so after such prolonged success. They need to be focused and motivated season after season. This is Ferguson’s biggest achievement. Whilst other clubs which have won a title or two seem to soon slip and lose their drive, United just plough on remorselessly; a football behemoth.
Even if City beat United, United will simply use it as motivation to beat them next time. no score is left unsettled by Ferguson. City’s owners might want to build an football empire but look what they’re up against. A 20 year history of victory. Can they ever hope to get near to that? it’s not impossible, of course, but it seems unlikely. unlikely because they will not have a manager of the bloody-minded brilliance of Ferguson and because a team assembled with big transfer fees is less likely to be as cohesive and together than United’s mix of local and overseas players, some big stars, some nobodies before the come the club.