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Leagues: EPL

A Tale of Two Manchester Football Clubs

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.

City are buying pre-made stars, United like to make them. Look at the brilliant Hernandez. A perfect United player within one season at the club.

This season, precisely because it has taken mental toughness as well as talent to top the league, United’s qualities are perhaps more obvious than usual. They plough on towards more silverware, an unstoppable machine. can City stand in their way? You wouldn’t much bet on it.

Editor’s Note: Johnny’s new book: “We Ate All The Pies: How Football Swallowed Britain Whole” is available via Amazon US or Amazon UK.

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  1. Why?

    April 16, 2011 at 9:11 am

    Surely you mean nonsence?

  2. John

    April 16, 2011 at 12:00 am

    “City are buying pre-made stars, United like to make them.”


  3. Dakota

    April 15, 2011 at 6:38 pm

    I like what you guys are saying about ‘winning mentality’. Growing up, coaches and everybody tell you to have a winning mentality and it will somehow help you win the game but that’s not the case. It isn’t till you win that you have the ‘winning mentality’. In order to win, you have to play as hard as you can and practice hard. Its what you can do with the ball and with your team and what you offer to the game. Sure, you can’t expect to win if you go into the game without wanting to win, but its works that bring about the actual score. I liked the article, thanks for posting it

  4. Rory

    April 15, 2011 at 12:47 pm

    Its’s not about money spent. It’s about money well spent.

  5. David G

    April 15, 2011 at 12:28 pm

    The whole “mentality” thing is Soccer was cute to me at first, but it’s starting to get annoying. It’s a contrived story line to explain things easily. For example, a person could break down why Man City hasn’t been as successful this season as Man U. Maybe an over relience on Tavez, some serious chemistry concerns, playing players out of position, etc, or we could jsut say “eh, they don’t have winning mentality”. Lazy anayalsis.

    What happend to Man U’s winning mentality last year, or early in this season when they blew leads to vastly inferior teams? United have a great coach and constantly have the most talented roster in EPL. I’d love to see Man U keep up their “winning” mentality with a yearly team salary of, lets say, Blackpool.

    I’ve heard arguments that its becasue they have hold over’s who teach this mentality to the younger players. Ok so for arguments sake, lets keep Ferdinand, Giggs, Scholes, and have Gary Neville un-retire, and stick them with Blackpools roster sans Charlie Adams. Using the theory of mentality teaching, we’d take it that this Blackpool roster would win the league multiple times, and challenge for the champions league title right?

    Going back to real life,what will we talk about when they lose to Barcelona in the final? Will Barca have more winning mentality? On that day did they drink more winning mentality juice? Did Chelsea lose their mentality this year, or did they get old? Do some people lose their mentality as they get older (Drogba, Lampard, Anelka) while other keep theirs longer (Giggs, Scholes, etc…). If so that information would be extremely valuble and you’d think Roman would have hired a team of top doctors to figure out how to keep his players filled with winning mentality, instead of top 4 finish mentality.

    I enjoy the lack of stats currently in soccer compared to the major American Sports, but this mentality talk reminds me of when baseball hitters were “cluth” or football teams just “wanted” it more or basketball players got “hot hands”.

    • MCHobbit

      April 15, 2011 at 12:49 pm

      Nicely put, David.

      I always disliked the “winning mentality” explanation – because the only team that seems to have that “mentality” at the end is whoever wins – like the other team had a “losing mentality.”

      I too like the relative few stats that get thrown our way during a match and even during a season – it does allow you to simply enjoy the game. But I too agree that it leads to these overly euphamistic explanations for what is happening on the pitch.

  6. MCHobbit

    April 15, 2011 at 10:50 am

    There’s no doubt that City must win something before they can be taken seriously in their aspirations to be a top club in England and Europe. There is no disputing that.

    Nor is there any dispute that United are and have been one of the premier (probably THE) premier club in England for some time. And they have earned that honor by BOTH buying quality players and developing their own.

    What confounds me to no end, however, is how writers and commentators seem to constantly belittle any attempt by clubs outside of the top 4 to crack their dominance – as if it is astounding that they have the audacity to shake up the status quo.

    Yes, City has speant more than any other club in the past few years to quickly remake their team. Critics state that they aren’t doing it the “right” way.

    Where exactly has the “right way” gotten every other English club over the past twenty years or so? A few sparse top 4 finishes (like Spurs last year)?

    Do not get me wrong – by spending large sums, City have brought a certain level of scrutiny on themselves – and I think they are fully aware of the pressure and criticism that they have to accept at some level. But there seems to be a very thinly veiled attack on ANY suggestion that they may soon be at that elite level – as if they do not have the pedigree and therefor the RIGHT to consider such a lofty status.

    I’ll continue to be perplexed, and root for them to succeed and prove all the naysayers wrong.

    • Adrian Meta

      April 16, 2011 at 2:16 am

      Spot on mate

      As a City fan it’s unbearable, every little thing about us is bad, according to the media.

      When you think about it, shouldn’t they be supporting us in our quest to break the establishment? They seem to have unwavering support for Tottenham.

      It’s really because of the money, but think about it, did anybody insult Blackburn when they did it? No. At Chelsea, they got far less scrutiny then us. Man United spent money, it’s just because for some reason, people don’t like City. And it’s ridiculous.

  7. El Tri 2014

    April 15, 2011 at 10:47 am

    Give City some time and they will be team earning silverware. Is it bad luck or bad buying that have led to players like Tevez, who seems like he wants out of the team every 4 weeks or so, or Balotelli, a gifted player who believes that all of England is Wonka’s Candy Factory? And is Mancini a brilliant tactician who also needs to be behavorial therapist in order to get his team prepared to play?

    My advice, allow Tevez to go to Serie A, La Liga, heck send him back to Argentina if need be, second, give Balotelli a pacifier and stop making him were bibs, third hire Rafa Benitez aka Mussolini. Bake in the oven for a year and serve with sterling silverware.

    • Matt

      April 15, 2011 at 1:12 pm

      The only silverware city would see from this concept would be when they win the Championship, once they are relegated. Without Tevez, they looked lost and hopeless against Liverpool.

  8. Rob

    April 15, 2011 at 8:55 am

    Like the article or not, united have a winning mentality and city seem cancerous.

  9. tommysunshine

    April 15, 2011 at 8:25 am

    This Nicholson guy spouts a load of nonsense: “City are buying pre-made stars, United like to make them. Look at the brilliant Hernandez.”
    So no-one had heard of Ferdinand, Van De Sar, Berbatov, Carrick, Rooney, Nani, Hargreaves etc. and going back Keane, Veron, Pallister, Cole, Yorke, Sheringham, Bruce, Irwin, McClair, Parker, Ince, Webb, Davenport, Birtles, Viv Anderson etc.before Fergie bought them?!
    The sad thing is many of the commenters probably hadn’t.
    ‘Making strikers’ has always been Fergie’s achilles heel- he’s always had to buy them. That’s why Ole Solskjaer and Hernandez stand out.

    • Marc

      April 15, 2011 at 9:11 am

      You forgot some – van Nistelrooy, Stam, Schmeichel, Sharp, Kanchelskis, Hughes, Cantona, Ronaldo. Players do become stars when putting on United’s shirt.

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