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Manchester United vs Manchester City: The Manchester Derby

“Play for the name on the front of the shirt, and they will remember the name on the back.”

Tony Adams

The Manchester Derby was first played in 1881 between Manchester City and Manchester United. Both teams have played a total of 178 matches. Among the 178 matches, United won 73 times, City won 53 times and there has been a draw for 52 times. Manchester United have always played at Old Trafford from 1910 and Manchester City plays at the City of Manchester Stadium (renamed to the Etihad in 2011).

The History

The first match took place on 12 November 1881 and took place between two teams St. Mark’s (now Manchester City) and Newton Heath LYR (now Manchester United). The first derby was won by Newton Heath by 3-0. When this match took place there were multiple prominent Manchester clubs hence this derby wasn’t considered a match of the highest standards. However, both the clubs increased in stature in the 1880s and it was labelled as “Newton Heath (Manchester City) was rising to the highest standard and Ardwick (Manchester United) was already there”). Then both clubs joined the Football League in 1892 where Newton Heath joined the First Division and Ardwick joined the Second Division.

The Early Years

The first Football League encounter between both teams took place in 1894-95 where Newton Heath got a win over Manchester City in a convincing fashion by winning by 5-2. The first encounter between both the clubs in the first division took place in 1906 with Manchester City winning 3-0. The gate receipts for that match exceeded £1,000 (which was a very substantial amount in the 1900s). However, City soon fell into financial problems which resulted in seventeen players banned which included the core of the club and four players soon went on to join United, who later helped United win their first league title.

After the Second World War, a stronger and a better rivalry developed between the teams.

Players who thrived on the Manchester derbies:

Kasper Schmeichel-
The great Dane played for both Manchester United and Manchester City in his trophy-laden and illustrious career. He even managed to play for both United and City in the Manchester derby. After playing for United for more than five years, Schmeichel decided to jump over to the other side of Manchester and started playing for the Sky Blues in 2002. One of the greatest goalkeepers in the Premier League era, he has never lost a single Manchester derby ever. His 2002 derby was his first derby in a Blue jersey. His team however miraculously managed to win over Manchester United because City was promoted to the First Division the same year whereas Manchester United were European powerhouses.

Because he never lost a single Manchester derby in his entire career, the Great Dane has got to go down as the best performer of all time in Manchester derbies.

Wayne Rooney-
Wayne Rooney must be up there amongst the all-time English greats. Rooney has been one of the best United players this decade and in the previous decade. Playing primarily as a striker Rooney was also not afraid to slot in as a midfielder just to help his team. His goal-scoring tally is proof of how great a player Rooney was.

Coming to Manchester derbies, no one can deny the fact that Rooney’s goal scoring exploits in derbies, in general, was a huge positive for United. He scored in his first Manchester derby where he made his derby debut and even scored in that match and never looked back. Rooney overtook Francis Lee’s tally of 10 goals in the Manchester derby with a total of 11 goals. 

Wayne Rooney once held talks with Manchester City considering his exit from Old Trafford because United as a club wasn’t ambitious enough. Interestingly, the same year Rooney scored the best goal ever scored in a Manchester derby, scoring from a wonderful bicycle kick sealing a win over their rivals.

Francis Lee
Not only was he a major part of one of the most City’s successful eras which lasted from the 1960s to early 70s, but he has also scored a massive 228 goals in his career. Having made 500 appearances for three clubs including Manchester City, Bolton Wanderers and Derby County. In 2010 he was inducted in the English Football Hall of Fame. He holds the record for the highest number of penalties scored in a season. Because of that, he was given the nickname of ‘Lee Won Pen’ because opposition fans always accused him of diving.

He also has 10 derby goals, a record which is only bettered by Wayne Rooney.

Sergio Aguero-
The Argentine talisman is undoubtedly a City legend. Playing as a striker, he is Manchester City’s highest ever goal scorer. Signed for 32 million, nobody expected the quantum of success that Aguero has brought to the Etihad which includes 4 Premier Leagues and 4 League Cups and 1 FA Cup. He probably immortalized his name as a Manchester City great when he scored the last-minute winner against QPR winning the Premier League title for Manchester City over United. That goal will probably be more significant for City fans than any goal he has scored in his City career. 

As for his derby stats, he has managed a total of 8 goals for the Sky Blues. Considering that he’s going to play another for City till 2021, he has decent time to catch on Rooney’s 11 goals in the Manchester derby.

Denis Law-
Denis Law is a legendary Scottish centre forward scoring 227 goals in 485 appearances. He played for 4 clubs including both Manchester City and United and Huddersfield and Torino. Law also has an impressive tally of 30 goals in 55 appearances for Scotland. He even holds a record in the Manchester United record books having scored 46 competitive goals in an entire season.

His 1974 Manchester derby is undoubtedly one of the most interesting occasions between both teams. Manchester United was in a relegation battle in the season hence making this derby a win or bust for United. However, Denis Law who earlier played for Manchester United decided to throw away all hopes for United when he scored for City with a back-heel in the 80th minute. The assist for the goal was also from City legend Francis Lee. Fans outraged rushed from the stands in anger and the match had to be abandoned. However, the result was still given as a United loss hence relegating United from the Top Division. Law soon had to retire after this match.

The most enthralling Manchester derbies

Michael Owen proves himself-
This derby took place in September 2009 and Manchester United won by 4-3. United took the lead three times but were pegged back on every occasion until Michael Owen produced his only memorable Manchester United moment by scoring in the 96th minute.
Manchester City had spent nearly 100 million on players including Carlos Tevez and Emmanuel Adebayor, but the fact that United still managed to win over City proved that not all battles can be won with money.

Roy Keane’s grudge match (April 2001)-
This match wouldn’t be remembered for the score line as it ended in a plane a 1-1 draw. However, the fight between Roy Keane and Alf-Inge Haland is something the world will never forget. 
The backstory for this grudge is because Haland accused Keane of feigning an injury back in 1997. Haland used to play for Leeds during that time. So, 4 years later, Keane got his shot at revenge. He made an unpardonable knee-high tackle taking out both Haland and his career. Haland was left shattered and couldn’t ever play again at a top-level and soon had to retire because of persisting knee problems. Keane however only got a 3-game ban and a measly 5k fine.

A young Roy Keane proves himself (November 1993)-
This match was a big test for Sir Alex Ferguson’s men. Manchester United managed to lose to Galatasaray in the Champions League even though after having a 2-0 lead. United had to prove their mental strength by winning this match. 
The match started with City earning all the plaudits after going 2-0 up at half time. However, the tides soon changed with Eric Cantona scoring two goals, one from a defensive mistake and the other from and exquisite Ryan Gigg’s pass. With only three minutes left on the clock, a young Roy Keane scored the winner giving this derby to Manchester United. United went on to have a fabulous season by winning the league and the FA Cup.

A blow to United, (October 2011)-
Manchester City dismantled United on this occasion with City winning by a margin of 6-1. Sir Alex Ferguson even regarding this as his “worst day ever” while managing the club. 
The game started with an iconic moment. Mario Balotelli after scoring on the 22nd minute celebrated by showing a t-shirt under his jersey which said: “Why Always Me?”. This celebration will probably go down as Balotelli’s most iconic moment in a City shirt. United defender Jonny Evans soon got a red card which proved to be the catalyst for this landslide score. Balotelli soon scored his second and Aguero a third with Edin Dzeko getting two quick goals and David Silva getting one.
Manchester City also managed to win the league this year with their famous last-gasp win over QPR.

The Denis Law game (April 1974)-
Denis Law was undoubtedly a Manchester United hero. The record goal scorer however shocked all fans by becoming the catalyst for Manchester United’s relegation from the top flight. Law had scored 237 goals in 404 games.
He scored from a backheel in the 81st minute to almost secure relegation for United. Law refused to celebrate openly. The game, however, didn’t get a proper conclusion with Manchester United fans swarming to the ground soon after this happened. However, the result still stood as a United loss thereby relegating United to the second division for only a year. Interestingly, no matter what happened in this game United would have been relegated no matter what happened in this game since Birmingham beat Norwich, a result that United hoped would go the other way.

The Manchester derby in 2019-
The first Manchester derby took place in April where a City win put them on the title path again. They went a significant one point ahead of Liverpool. The gap in quality between United and City is huge and proven from this game itself. Liverpool fans however wished for a United victory which might be perplexing for any Liverpool fan. However, City came to the match completely ready with a 2-0 win where Bernardo Silva and Leroy Sane got one goal each.
Manchester City will go head to head against United on 7th December at the Etihad Stadium. Manchester City will be the favourites to win the game because City is on for a title chase and will be extremely hungry for three points because they are behind Liverpool by a considerable margin. Manchester United, on the other hand, have been floundering around as a mid-table club nowadays with many unfavourable results. Ole Gunnar Solksjaer is fighting to keep his job and poor results will more or less seal his fate.

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MPL Team - Enjoy reading gaming, fantasy, poker, and rummy articles by the MPL team on the MPL blog.

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