The Manchester derby has taken on different connotations in recent years, with the two league games across the course of a season now likely to have a major effect on which of the two win the Premier League. While both super clubs are undergoing major rebuilds under Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho respectively – adding more spice indeed – the duo contested perhaps the most thrilling title race in the Premier League era only a few years ago.
What makes this rivalry in particular so interesting is the fact the two sides are largely on an equal level these days. For so long, the unfashionable City trailed their illustrious neighbours, though the investment to have turned the Sky Blues into a continental powerhouse has turned the landscape of English football on its head.
One of the major cities in England, the fact a historic place such as Manchester – a city that offers so much to English culture – has two major Premier League sides only adds to the reasons to pay the North West a visit.
Visit Britain are looking to find the biggest Super Football Fan in the world, and to be honest, there will be a fair few to choose from in this particular part of England.
While you weigh up as to whether or not you’ve got what it takes, here’s a look at what makes the Manchester derby so special, looking at the five best games in recent memory.
Long before huge money poured into Manchester City, they managed to record a famous win over the Red Devils the first time a derby was played out at the City of Manchester Stadium. Amazing to think now, but City were struggling towards the bottom of the league and just two points above the drop zone as United came calling, trailing league leaders Arsenal by 12 points at the time.
So, it was a must-win for both teams.
As desperate as United were, City managed to pick them off with relative ease to truly celebrate their new home at long last, with former Liverpool hero Robbie Fowler helping them take an early lead. Jon Macken, who started his career at Old Trafford, managed to double the lead before Trevor Sinclair and Shaun Wright-Phillips sealed United’s fate.
As City were getting to grips with their new found riches, they took Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United side all the way with their £100m team. Though it was early on in the campaign, the derby was played at a wonderfully frantic pace and saw United take the lead three times, only to be pegged back by Mark Hughes’ expensively assembled XI.
With the Sky Blues turning up the heat, United managed to secure a win through a dramatic Michael Owen winner in the closing stages, much to Hughes’ chagrin. Brought in for big moments like these, the former Liverpool man was widely celebrated by a crowd to have booed him so much over the years following his stint on Merseyside.
Why always him?
In perhaps the most famous Manchester derby of all time, Manchester City romped to a stunning 6-1 victory on enemy soil during their title-winning campaign as United capitulated to City’s fearsome frontline. Mario Balotelli (x2), Edin Dzeko (x2), Sergio Aguero and David Silva made the most of Jonny Evans’ red card, picking their opposition apart with ease and condemning United to their biggest defeat in years.
Over a year later, United made the trip across Manchester to take on the side to have stolen their crown in Sir Alex Ferguson’s last ever trip to City, looking to extend their lead atop the Premier League. A much, much closer affair than the 6-1 mauling, United almost threw away a lead given to them by a Wayne Rooney double in the closing stages as Pablo Zabaleta and Yaya Toure struck back.
However, summer signing Robin van Persie proved exactly why United signed him with a stunning late free-kick to help his side record a vital win, even at that stage of the campaign. The Dutchman’s strike caused a major psychological blow, one City never seemed to get over.
Perhaps the best performance of the post-Sir Alex era for United, they managed to thump City (champions of England at the time) by four goals to two and keep their quest to finish in the top four alive. Joe Hart labelled the game as one of his worst ever days in a City shirt, as the likes of Ashley Young, Marouane Fellaini, Juan Mata and Chris Smalling cancelled out two Sergio Aguero goals.
While the LVG era wasn’t the best for the club, this vibrant performance – one that ended City’s title challenge – will surely live long in the memory.
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