The city of Manchester shuts down when crosstown rivals Manchester United and Manchester City in the Manchester derby.
The 2 Premiership sides will meet for the 169th time on Sunday at Old Trafford. The Red Devils hold the upper hand in the record books with 69 wins compared to City’s 48 wins with 50 draws mixed in the lot. But gone are the days under Sir Alex Ferguson when the Red Devils could correctly call the Citizens the ‘noisy neighbors.’
That all changed in 2008 when Manchester City was purchased by Abu Dhabi United Group. The Middle Eastern group has splashed the cash to build City into an English power and make this derby much more competitive.
And it has worked the Manchester sides have won the last 4 Premier League titles with United winning in 2010/11 and 2012/13 and City winning in 2011/12 and last season.
The derby has become one of the fiercest in England since the first Manchester derby on November 12, 1881 when fans would not have recognized their team names on the score sheet. Manchester United, known as Newton Heath and in green and gold colors, defeated Manchester City, known as West Gorton (St Marks), 3-0.
The match was described as a ‘pleasant game’ by a local reporter but with so many clubs in the city at the time the game was not considered anything special. This friendly atmosphere with many fans cheering and supporting both sides continued through World War II.
That all began to change in the 1950’s as the 2 clubs firmly became the best in Manchester and the annual meetings took on additional importance. The fans were forced to choose their side and it is one derby where support is still split roughly 50/50 with residents in the eastern part of the city supporting The Citizens and the west side singing their allegiance to the Red Devils.
Like all great derbies, the close proximity of the clubs has brought with it a rich history. Old Trafford has been the home of United since 1910 but the Red Devils were forced to use Maine Road, Manchester City’s ground, as their ‘home’ after World War II due to damage from bombing at Old Trafford.
Denis Law suited up early in his career and ended his career at Manchester City but played the bulk of it across town with United. He scored 171 goals in 309 matches for United but one of his goals for City is most remembered by fans from the red and blue side of the city. His back heel goal late in the penultimate game of the 1973/74 season helped give City a 1-0 win at Old Trafford and was 1 of the nails in the relegation coffin for United.
The first derby that season saw both sides have a player red carded, Mike Doyle for City and Lou Macari for United but both players refuse to leave the pitch. The referee forces both sides back to dressing room until the players leave the pitch.
Ryan Giggs, current assistant at Manchester United, holds the record for most appearances in the derby with 36. The midfielder scored his first goal for United in the 1990/91 match as a 17-year-old.
Eric Cantona made his United debut in the 1992/93 derby. It was the first derby in the Premier League era. The French international ended up scoring 8 derby goals over his career.
The second meeting of the 2007/08 Manchester Derby fell 4 days after the 50th anniversary of the Munich Air Disaster. The pre-game had a tribute to those who lost their lives and the players wore for the first time in Premier League history tribute jerseys.
But he does not lead the way when it comes to goal. That honor is held by Wayne Rooney. The team captain has netted 11 goals in the derby none more spectacular than his bicycle kick in the 2010/11 fixture.
Peter Schmeichel played for both sides during his career and has the distinction of holding an unbeaten record. His side never lost over 8 years at United or the 1 year he spent at City.
The derby has a U.S. connection with former international Claudio Reyna playing for City from 2003 through 2007. The goal helped City to a 1-1 draw.
These events are only the top of the iceberg for this great derby.
HAVE YOUR SAY…
Which side do you support? Who will win on Sunday?