As a United fan, tomorrow’s derby is by far and away the most important ever. Obvious statement perhaps?
Whether we admit it or not, United fans do not respect City. Nor do we fear them. City is a club we kind of pity. A minor irritant.
Leeds, Liverpool and Arsenal are the teams we love to hate. We envied Liverpool in the 1980s and are benchmarked by their success. Arsenal went toe to toe with us during our glorious spell and Leeds are well, Leeds. United look to Barca and Madrid and Milan and Turin for footballing benchmarks. City is a local affair for a global superpower.
Tomorrow’s big match is an usual affair….Having two major clubs in the one city play off in a title decider is not that common. Most cities don’t have populations big enough to sustain two superpowers.
Manchester in the late 1800s was different as Manchester had the industrial revolution and it had money. Amazingly, on only six previous occasions have cross city enemies ended the English League 1-2 (1967-68 City-United, 1984-85 Everton-Liverpool, 1985-86 Liverpool-Everton, 1986-87 Everton-Liverpool, 2003-04 Arsenal-Chelsea, 2004-05 Chelsea-Arsenal). Tomorrow will be historic.
The one time the Manchester clubs duelled to the death was 1968 and City beat United 3-1 in Old Trafford and went on to
claim the title. Typically, United went one better and become the first English club to win the European Cup a few months later. United fans look back on 1968 as one of the most glorious!
The derby started in 1881 when a railway workers team called Newtown Heath took on the Church based team St Mark’s. Newtown Heath, wearing the anti-Glazer green and black, won 3-0 and ever since this derby has been dominated by United with the first “proper” United-City game played in 1902.
Ok, City have had a few glorious days, including that 5-1 thumping in 1989 and the 6-1 thrashing of this season. But more often than not, it is United who do all the celebrating. 19 titles versus two for City. 11 FA Cups versus five for the bitter blues. 3 Champions Leagues….etc
This is not a rivalry based on equality and mutual respect.
Colin Shindler’s book Manchester United Ruined My Life is the perfect synopsis of the City pshyche.
City fans are obsessed by United. City hate United. City have a deep fear and sense of inferiority when it comes to the bigger, better, sexier internationally loved global sensation. For United fans, City are the noisy irritating neighbour. Nothing more and nothing less.
However, all that might change come Monday night.
The big fear I have, as a United fan, is that this game may just well be a generation game changer.
United, with the heavy burden of the flawed Glazer ownership and with little investment in the team, have over performed in a very poor League under the wily stewardship of Fergie. Our failings in Europe show how far we have slipped against the standard bearers in Spain. This is, I think, one of the most unbalanced and least convincing United teams since 1992.
Defeat at the land of Abu Dhabi Doo on Monday evening and the title is City’s to lose. A double over United and a home win the go top of the League with two games to go would be a crushing blow.
United, with an ageing supremo and in the absence (Rooney excluded) of hard edged heroes like Hughes, Keane, Schmeichel, Robson, Bruce and Cantona could quite easily drift into a third or fourth placed also rans in the coming years.
This 130 rivalry of unequals may be no more…..
Forget Denis Law’s back heel that relegated United. Forget the one off derby day scalps……
City, with more oil money than sense and now the whiff of victory in the nostrils, can only drive on and climb for higher ground. The big red monkey off the back and ready to stand tall….please say it isn’t so but my gut feeling is it might just happen, sooner rather than later.
I will be watching from behind the couch with one hand over my eyes.
Or maybe, just maybe, it will be another false dawn for the Cit-eh fans after all??