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Derby Day: That Winning Feeling

A few games over the course of a season quite captivate reds attentions like the game against cross-city rivals Manchester City. Alongside the trip to Anfield and their return to Old Trafford, Manchester United fans take note of when they will play the blue half of Manchester. Whilst there has and always will be a rivalry due to the geographical positioning of the two clubs, in recent years the rivalry has hit new heights and only looks to be heading in one direction.

Every club has their derbies and rivalries, traditionally Manchester United have tussled with Liverpool and even Arsenal but the derby with Manchester City has always had significance over who has the bragging rights in Manchester. Even though in the majority of the club’s history Manchester United have dominated and far outperformed their city rivals, once the two sides met on the pitch the game has always been exciting and closely fought with City often raising their game for the big match.

However, since 2008 Manchester City have been owned by Arab royalty and with that, there has been mass investment from the Arab Sheikhs in attempt to catch the rest of the field and buy their way to quick success. With this influx of money, City have been able to attract a better calibre of player and find success winning the Premier League, FA Cup and League Cup since the Sheikhs took the realm. This has certainly intensified the rivalry in Manchester as the noisy neighbours have gotten a little louder and prouder, meaning the games are now closer than ever with the city seemingly up for grabs.

There have been plenty of derby day memories and wins that stick in the mind of United fans but I have picked out a few that felt that extra bit special. First up, we go way back before the oil money to November 1993 where Manchester United travelled to Maine Road on the back of exiting the UEFA Champions League at the hands of Turkish side Galatasaray. The crowd were quick to taunt the away end about their shortcomings in Europe and things got worse as Niall Quinn fired the hosts into a two-goal lead at the break. The Reds must have received a famous Sir Alex Ferguson half-time blast as they came out firing on all cylinders, Eric Cantona striking a double and a young Roy Keane drilled in the winner before the end of play in his first taste of Manchester rivalry.

Next up on the list is the most recent Manchester derby and although the game at times was painful to watch for the Reds it concluded in another three-goal comeback that sealed the victory. Going into the game United were 19 points behind their cross-city rivals with the league all but confirmed the blues had even begun to boast of their stronghold on bragging rights in the city. However, with a two-goal lead and a chance to lift the title in front of their nemesis, United re-wrote the script lead by Paul Pogba who scored twice and a Chris Smalling header to give the Reds something to cheer about in an underwhelming campaign.

The final game on my list is somewhat of a cracker and in my opinion one of the best matches yet alone derbies I have ever seen. It was a Premier League Match at Old Trafford in September 2009 during City’s first full campaign following their financial takeover and the build-up had all the makings of a great match, Mark Hughes returned to Old Trafford as City boss and Tevez ‘the Judas’ returned after swapping red for blue.

The game got off to a quick start as both clubs registered goals inside 20 minutes and that’s how it stayed up to half time. The second half brought more drama as Darren Fletcher fired United ahead only for a long-range effort from Craig Bellamy to bring the scores back level. United answered again and looked to have clinched the win with another Fletcher goal but Bellamy sprinted onto a through ball to seemingly earn a point for Hughes’ side.

However, Manchester United had other ideas and in the 96th minute with City fans and coaches pleading for the final whistle Ryan Giggs expertly slipped in Michael Owen who confidently slotted in the winner to the elation of Old Trafford, a sight I will find hard to forget as the stadium erupted, even Sir Alex danced down the touchline in joy, deep into ‘Fergie time’.

The rivalry has gotten that bit more competitive since City’s rise and it looks like it will continue to get more potent as the clubs become the two dominating forces in English football. Add to that the rivalry between Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola which I’m sure will bring even more derby day memories for as long as they stay in charge respectively. The winning feeling on derby day is special and is a joyous moment for the fans as they claim their rights to Manchester but it will be a long time before City can honestly argue that Manchester is blue, a statement that in all seriousness will never be true especially if results continue where they left off at the Etihad last season.

Written by Josh Keifer

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