Manchester has made its name for its industrial achievements and great music, but for many sport fans across the world, the city is associated primarily with two of the biggest teams in association football – Manchester United and Manchester City.
It’s not surprising that a fierce rivalry exists between followers of United and City, and this competition is known colloquially as the ‘Manchester derby’ each time the two prestigious teams cross paths during the Premier League season. While Manchester United is undoubtedly the more famous team globally, in the city of Manchester itself the competition is much fiercer, with many residents viewing Manchester City as their ‘true’ local team.
The rivalry between the two teams has been long-running and is still going strong today, with many opinions being voiced on both sides about why each team boasts superiority over the other. These range from purely statistical, in terms of Manchester City’s comparably lesser success at winning matches and cup trophies, to issues of a more ideological nature, such as the greater international mix-up of Manchester United’s team and the fact that their current home ground – Old Trafford – is technically located outside of Manchester.
There’s little doubt that Manchester United have been the superior team in terms of ability and victories, currently beating City by 65 games in the long-running ‘derby’, but for those who live in Manchester or who simply love their football, the feud goes much deeper than the score board. Indeed, Manchester City’s status as underdogs compared to their geographical neighbours can have resounding effects, with even one victory over United being viewed as a resounding success for the City side.
And victories do indeed happen, even if they are relatively few and far between.
While many are content to view the United-City rivalry as a friendly and good-natured feud, it has had its darker spots throughout the clubs’ histories, particularly in the 1970s. In December 1970, a tackle by United’s George Best broke the leg of Glyn Pardoe, which nearly resulted in the limb needing to be amputated. More infamous still was the so-called ‘Denis Law game,’ where the former United player scored what he felt to be a hollow victory against his old teammates in the closing minutes of the game.
Despite United’s “technical” superiority, both teams still rank high in the football stakes, making the Derby an ongoing event that attracts thousands of fans to local grounds and Manchester hotels throughout the football season.