For the past eight seasons, Manchester City has finished ahead of Manchester United, and this year will be the ninth consecutive year. United has completed the circle in its rivalry with the city of Manchester.
Ed Woodward was in the lift at Juventus’ Allianz Stadium, on his way down to the directors’ box, when he came face to face with a group of journalists who were covering the game. “It’s been an intriguing couple of days,” he remarked, a smug smirk on his face.
Woodward was under no obligation to identify what he was alluding to. ‘Manchester City exposed, Chapter 1: Bending the Rules to the Tune of Millions’ had been published by Der Spiegel just three days before, and Woodward was about to have a better night. Despite down by two goals in the final 10 minutes, Manchester United rallied to earn a thrilling victory in Turin.
With City, Uefa showed its teeth by barring them from competing in the Champions League for two years and fining them €30 million in February 2020, but their case was not without flaws. Five months later, City was successful in their appeal, and the amount was lowered to €10 million.
READ MORE: Is it better to be a business or a club? United are about to demonstrate how serious they are about winning.
On United’s return from Italy, Woodward and Jose Mourinho parted ways in an unpleasant manner at Manchester Airport. Three days later, City cruised to a 3-1 victory in the Etihad Derby, demonstrating their overwhelming domination. Woodward and Mourinho officially parted ways 37 days after they first met.
Last year, City reached their first Champions League final since joining the competition. United haven’t advanced past the quarter-finals in more than ten consecutive seasons. Manchester City were under Thaksin Shinawatra’s control when United won the European Cup for the second time in three years, and their crucial takeover was just three months away at the time of United’s triumph.
Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra was found guilty of corruption and sentenced to prison. In addition to being the biggest stakeholder in City, Sheikh Mansour is also the deputy prime minister of the United Arab Emirates, which abstained from voting at the United Nations last week on a resolution denouncing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The United Arab Emirates then voted in favor of Russia ceasing its offensive.
Mansour has been criticized for being treated like a sportswashing commodity, and many of his supporters still regard him as belonging to a tribal group. It’s easy to see why: five titles since the club’s first FA Cup triumph in 2011, another FA Cup in 2019, and a fourth consecutive League Cup triumph in 2018. Having gone one better in the Premier League, City are well-prepared to win their fourth championship in five years in the Champions League. The Manchester United team has won the Premier League four times in a row since it was first established in 1992.
David Moyes was roundly criticized eight years ago for claiming that Manchester United ‘aspired’ to be as successful as City. That is, in all practicality, recommended right now. Barcelona’s world-class coach has a long track record of success, and the club has world-class players in every department, as well as a specialist technical director and proven chief executive with significant club clout. The club also has a modern stadium and an enviable training complex that is only a goal kick away from being won by Ederson.
United? There has been a dramatic reduction in the number of world-class players since the sunny days of August, the manager is an interim, the football director has his critics, and the chief executive is a former university friend of Ed Woodward’s. The stadium is in poor condition, and the training facilities at Carrington are insufficient for the men’s, women’s, and academy teams to train effectively and efficiently.
United’s matchday support, whether in terms of quantity or quality, continues to outperform City’s. The fact that they will be standing in the south stand on Sunday with their club looking up the table at City and starting their repertoire of shouts will leave no doubt that they do not have an inferiority complex.
For years, a part of Manchester United’s internet fandom has relished rumors of a possible Saudi Arabian purchase of the club. The prospect of the contest was despised by the vast majority of those in attendance. In a letter to the club last week, some worried supporters demanded that United cease their sponsorship of the Russian national carrier Aeroflot. They were successful.
Every summer since David Moyes left Carrington in 2014, Manchester United have competed in the transfer market, no matter how destructive the Glazer family’s ownership is. The absence of a structure, which had been finalized a year earlier and was already in disarray, was critical. Woodward accepted the Gáláctico philosophy, which was diametrically opposed to City’s recruitment strategy, which was focused on discovering players for the collective rather than individual success. City have never spent more than £65million on a single acquisition prior to the arrival of Jack Grealish in 2014. It is no coincidence that the maverick Grealish has fallen short of expectations.
A pertinent question would have been raised if United had paraded Cristiano Ronaldo at a press conference, as City did with the £100m Grealish, as to why a serial winner had snubbed other serial winners and returned to a club that was starving of success. Ronaldo’s decision was unreasonable when the passion is removed (and Ronaldo isn’t all that attached when he consistently fails to appreciate United’s traveling support), and the decision was illogical. Likewise, City’s pursuit of an aging striker whose immobility has been a source of contention since the turn of the year was a waste of time.
It is impossible for City to declare they were interested in Ronaldo because they would be admitting that United’s pull is greater (and it still is), and United would be unable to discredit their apparently comprehensive recruitment process by admitting they were only interested in Ronaldo because they wanted to keep him out of the blue shirt. Ronaldo, like Wayne Rooney in 2010, was ready to make the move to Manchester City.
“Alex Ferguson saw where the club was headed and he got out of there as quickly as he could, and they’re still picking up the pieces now,” Rooney says in his new film on his long-running spat with Sir Alex Ferguson. Like his entrusting of another Scot who symbolized longevity in 2013, Ferguson’s involvement with Ronaldo was well-received by supporters.
As Woodward handed in his resignation, he expressed concern for the insufficient situation Moyes had inherited and stated that United were in a ‘better position’. Someone pointed out that United were 22 points behind City at the time, which was the exact same amount of points they ended behind them in the previous season under David Moyes (2013-14). The gap has reduced significantly, but a victory for City on Sunday would widen it to 22 points once again.