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Joined by geography; separated by history

It’s that time again folks, following a rare unsuccessful season for Manchester United and a successful season by a small club owned by a Billionaire, get ready for the “power shift” brigade.

The balance of power is shifting …. Manchester is now blue …. The new dominant force is now Manchester City … Sound familiar? Oh yes, the utterance of premature trash from media and opposition fans alike have begun in earnest.

Allow me to take you on a historical trip (laden with sarcastic overtures). The year 2006, Chelsea the new “superpower” (or so we were told) had clinched their second title in a row, had flexed their financial muscles to sign two of the world’s biggest names in Michael Ballack and Andre Shevchenko. All set to dominate “for years to come” yes? NO!

Manchester United, a “fallen super power” firmly in the shadow of the wealthy “new” dominant super-power Chelsea went on to win a measly three league titles (in a row), a UEFA Champions League, a UEFA Europa League, a League Cup and a FIFA Club World Cup.

A few years later and believe it or not history repeats itself. Another small club with a wealthy owner arises to challenge the dominance of United, this time it’s the “noisy neighbours” Manchester City. A dramatic final day title win on goal difference in 2012 set the trend going for a new era of domination only for “the other team in Manchester” to struggle the following season and win the title finishing 11 points clear of the Manchester City.

So much for power shifts then, so much for changing of era’s then, it’s loosely used words spoken to pay homage to teams when a simple “congratulations on an excellent SEASON” seem more reasonable and obviously less likely to make you look like a complete fool.

Manuel Pellegrini showed this frankly embarrassing mind-set when he said “If we only count this season, there is one club in Manchester and its ours”. This smacks of a club so desperate to stand alone and not in the shadow of its famous neighbour.

Manchester City deserved to be crowned Champions, they were the best team in England last season and congratulations to them. That’s where it stops. Next season they will start as favourites but that is merely a formality.

Historically its puts them no closer to emerging from the shadow they seem to be in, our shadow. Sir Alex Ferguson once ridiculed City’s attempts to overshadow United by claiming that it would take a century for City to surpass United. This may well be true as City have a lot to catch up with trophy wise.

Manchester City in my opinion represents everything that’s wrong with the modern game. A disease UEFA and FFP are trying to so hard to eradicate. A small club with not much history to speak of gets plucked by a billionaire, and transformed expensively into a club capable of winning titles.

But the football purists look beyond the vast sums of money and to history and tradition. Money buys you success but never history. Disagree? Well consider this. Both clubs are owned by foreigners, but ask yourself this, where would both clubs be without their foreign owners … Manchester United will still be the world’s most glamorous football club, a revenue magnet and a competitive football club in terms of challenging for the biggest prizes in European football. Can we say the same for City? Absolutely not! Their success in recent seasons is purely based on money, not the money they generate on their own but money from a rich owner. They say money doesn’t guarantee trophies but it gives you a greater chance than most. This isn’t bitterness its plain simple truth.

City have splashed out nearly a billions pounds in the Sheikh Mansour era to make them ready to challenge for trophies. His billions have seen them become a success trophy wise in the past 3 or 4 seasons; sadly it would never make them bigger than United.

Perhaps the changing outlook of football spearheaded by FFP can help eradicate this money obsessed sickness for our game and see it return to its purer form. I can just hear the grumbling City fans say “United spent a lot for years too” indeed this is correct but the difference is that its money generated by the Club. We plough our own fields!

Realistically speaking, does Manchester City have the chance to start a new era? Yes they do. They have money, money (to sign world class players), money (to keep players on ridiculously high wages), massive history steeped in rich tradition (oops just kidding) and oh wait more money, the building blocks of success more often than not.

Will they start a new era? It’s impossible to know. Eras are defined by decades not a few seasons. In 10 years from now after they have won seven league titles, a few more FA Cups and a UEFA Champions League or two then it would depict an era change. Winning a league title in a season when other major rivals struggle with change and poor management is not the catalyst for such statements like balance shifts. Back to back wins for Chelsea in 2004-2005 & 2005-2006 didn’t even prove remotely close to that sentiment.

Manchester City have their place as the champions for this season but their place as merely the other team in Manchester is also secure for decades to come.

United v City

Sheikh Mansour’s billions have bridged the gap on the field but could never bridge the chasm between the two clubs historically. The noisy blues fans should focus on celebrating their FOURTH title win, it’s a great moment celebrating your teams title win, we should know, we have celebrated TWENTY of them.

By Delon Naicker

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