As the classic A Tale Of Two Cities begins, “It was the best of the times, it was the worst of times.” However this weekend’s protagonists have a long and fabled history against one another with the backdrop being the city of Manchester — with the dominance for the best team in Manchester on the line. Manchester City plays Manchester United this Sunday at 11am ET.
The city itself it’s known for its industrial past in association with the textile industry during the period of the industrial revolution. Cotton was its main exporter and, like many during the Victoria Era, the public wanted the finest material of the cotton producers. As time went on, the River Irwell (Manchester Ship Canal) provided more growth for shipped good, which drew Manchester in competition with their rival port city of Liverpool. It was the place where the first railway station was built in the world. Scientists built the first programmable computer. Like the city where the first atom was split, the Manchester derby is sure to set off a chain reaction.
Although the famed derby between Manchester United and Liverpool is not really considered a derby, primarily because they are not the from the same city, it does make the blood boil between its famous supporters. Most of the famed feud was highlighted in Danny Dyers football documentary drama Football Factories. However. this weekend’s rivalry is a bit more close to home as both Old Trafford and the Etihad are separated by just 5 miles. For many, blue and red have divided the local citizens including suburbs and eating establishments who sympathize with Fred the Red or the Blue Moon. While many may proclaim other derbies such as the Milan derby, Boca versus River Plate, El Clasico, and the Old Firm as containing the true essence and emotions that encapsulates a derby, the Manchester derby is just as lethal.
With that, let’s take a look back at some memorable moments from the derby.
Manchester United and City fans will remember Roy Keane’s horrific tackle on Alfe-Inge Haaland. Their tussle went back a few years when Roy Keane had a clear attempt on goal, when the United skipper succumbed to a cruciate ligament by Haaland. He was playing for Leeds at the time. Many believed “Keano” took his time and waited for the opportune moment as was mentioned in his autobiography.
“The Goat” Shaun Goater. He netted twice for City to celebrate the blue half’s final derby victory at Maine Road with a 3-1 win for Kevin Keegan. Anelka started the scoring, with the baby faced assassin Ole Gunnar Solksjaer equalizing.
Ah yes. United were chasing City with Craig Bellamy and Carlos Tevez creating a gap between them and United. But nothing is ever written in stone at Old Trafford. Giggs finds Michael Owen with a sublime pass in added time. It was the boy wonder of old as Owen sealed City’s demise on the day with s movie-like winning goal.
Nani opened Manchester United’s account before newly acquired David Silva from Valencia pulled one back for the City. Then one of the best goals of all time in the Premier League happened as Rooney created an acrobatic bicycle kick out of nowhere that sailed past Manchester City keeper Joe Hart into the back of the net. Wazza!
Why always me? The bad boy Mario Balotelli helped City unravel a United side 6-1. Victory at Old Trafford seemed to switch the momentum for Roberto Mancini to win the League by goal difference. Many in the blue side of Manchester never believed they would win the title during Sir Alex Ferguson’s reign.
RVP. United new man Robin Van Persie would net the game winner in injury time, which sparked some discontent from the City supporters with some objects being thrown on the pitch. The Tevez red card on a tackle that took down Rafael right in front of Sir Alex Ferguson did not help matters. The victory gave United a six point lead in the Premier League with two matches to go before Christmas.
So as we look toward Sunday, we wonder what the next chapter will bring. There are a few changes in the story line this time around. We have two new managers in David Moyes and Manuel Pellegrini, who look to make an immediate impact in the derby. David Moyes will have to use his expertise from the years on the battle ground he has had at Anfield and Goodison Park. With his time at River Plate and Real Madrid, Pellegrini will be bringing his bag of experience of heated derby encounters.
Sunday’s match looks like it’ll primarily be won in the midfield as Marouane Fellaini and Michael Carrick seem to have formed a good anchor in midfield for United. For City, Navas, Silva, and Fernandinho will be looking to take the spotlight in the next chapter of this famed derby.
As City’s motto says “Concilio Et Labore,” by wisdom or effort. Let this weekend’s derby see United and City use a little bit of wisdom and some effort to provide a mouthwatering and entertaining spectacle for both sets of supporters and neutrals alike.