This weekend Manchester City host a small side from just outside of Manchester by the name of the Salford Reds, or something. I do not know a lot about this team other than the fact they are managed by Johan Van Der Smut, aka Goldmember and rely on a striker lovingly called Fat B@stard!
Of course I am just joking around and we actually welcome United to the Etihad, who, of course, are managed by Louis Van Gaal. Although he may wish his was called Johan Van Der Smut when you realize that ‘Louis Van Gaal’ is actually an anagram of ‘Anal visual, go!’
Two points behind City heading into the game, these two rivals have enjoyed some classic encounters over the years. Who can forget the 6-1 win at Old Trafford back on the 23rd October 2011, exactly four years today!
Or the Cup Semi Final and that Yaya Toure goal which led Mancini’s men on the road to our first silverware since the Tueart overhead kick in ‘76. Our last Maine Road derby and first City of Manchester stadium derby, both big wins, 3-1 and 4-1 respectively. Shaun Goater scoring his 100th City goal against the club who released him back in 1989 was something he will certainly always remember. Now why does 1989 ring a bell? The Maine Road massacre! The 5-1 total demolition of United under their fairly new manager, Alex Ferguson. He’ll be sacked in the morning!
Remember Francis Lee getting booked after a George Best dive in the center circle. Franny Lee demonstrated the United man’s theatrics by repeatedly throwing himself to the ground while treatment was being given. Or how about the Dennis Law back heel goal which he didn’t celebrate, although United would have been relegated even if they’d won as a victory for Birmingham City saw to that. An emotionally wrecked Denis Law, a Stretford end hero, was substituted as United fans showed their class and invaded the pitch.
It hasn’t been all fun and games for City though, despite some great highs, there have also been some lows. The whole of the 1990's and most of the 1980's should be erased from the memory along with those last minute goals. In fact City have lost more games against United than they have won and won less games than have ended in a draw. But the balance is shifting. In the last ten competitive meetings between us and ’them’ since that 1-0 FA Cup Semi Final, City have won seven times. In fact, historically, when City are the home side in a Manchester derby the stats are pretty even.
On the field City have had their share of misfortune also. The legend Colin Bell had his career essentially ended after getting injured in a Manchester derby and similar is thought about of Alfe Inge Haaland and that horrific tackle on him from Roy Keane.
United may be the name but City have history also and United’s success would not have come about if it wasn’t for City. Confused, let me show you.
In 1904 Manchester City were the first of the two to win the FA Cup before a year later having their squad decimated after an FA investigation. The majority of those players moved across the City to United and, between 1907 and 1909 would win the FA Cup and League title for United. Next up is the bombing of Old Trafford and City allowing United to use Maine Road for their home games, a gesture not offered when a fire had ripped through a stand at City’s old ground Hyde Road just over a decade before, forcing them to eventually get the Maine Road stadium built.
Those are two examples, but probably one which had more impact on United and their success was when City persuaded a young Scottish man to stay in Manchester and play for them rather than move to the USA with his Mother. That man was Matt Busby and he would go on to manage United in their first set of glory years. In fact he won their first trophy in 1952, the first for 41 years!
In fact, up until that point, 50 years after they became United, they had only one FA Cup and two League titles. In the 25 years with Busby at the helm they would accumulate another five League titles, three FA Cups and a European trophy, bringing the silverware total up to 11. At the same point City had 9 major trophies.
No more League titles and only the two FA Cups were added after Busby left until Ferguson arrived and only after his initial barren spell. If history teaches us anything it is that through bad or good City fans stay and are loyal to the club while United go on tremendous winning spurts over years before enduring spells of very little to nothing. In 1920 King George attended a City game as Liverpool were the visitors, snubbing United and others in favor of City, the first time he had attended a game outside of London, shows in what regard City were held. Similar could also be said today with the visit of China’s President Xi Jinping to City and not United or other sides It has only been a couple of seasons since United burnt their brightest and so the future may be bright for Manchester but it is most certainly blue.