All eyes will be on Old Trafford on tomorrow, as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United host Pep Guardiola’s Man City. A game which will be the lastest edition of a rivalry that has grown into one of the most significant in English football.
For two decades under Sir Alex Ferguson, Manchester United were the dominant force – not just within the City of Manchester, but of English Football in general, and few would have predicted City to ever threaten the Red Devils superiority.
However, now backed by their Abu Dhabi billions and coached by the mercurial Pep Guardiola, Man City are now the top dogs in the division, while the Red Devils have endured their own decline, which simply makes the Manchester derby even more intriguing than ever.
So ahead of the latest meeting, we look at five of the greatest clashes between these two old foes…
Man United 0-1 Man City, 1974
While Denis Law’s back-heeled finish didn’t technically relegate Manchester United, it certainly felt that way at the time. We often moan about players not celebrating against their former side, though, in this case, it made total sense.
After 11 years and 237 goals for United, it was heartbreaking for the striker to be the one who (sort of) sealed their fate, the Red Devils dropping into the second tier of English football. Law was substituted immediately after the goal and never played for City again.
Man United 4-3 Man City, 2009
A much more modern derby this time and probably the most exciting. This was the new, rich, Manchester City and they had splashed the cash the previous summer, adding a host of talented players, including former United forward, Carlos Tevez.
It was a ding-dong battle at Old Trafford, with United taking the lead three times through Wayne Rooney’s opener and a Darren Fletcher brace, only to be pegged back on each occasion thanks to strikes from Gareth Barry and a double from Craig Bellamy.
Perhaps a draw would have been a fair result, but with the game into its sixth of four added minutes, there was one final twist.
The ball dropped to the evergreen Ryan Giggs at the edge of the box, who – with perfect weight and accuracy – slipped it through City’s defence to find former England international Michael Owen, who rolled back the years with an inch-perfect finish past Shay Given into the corner. Disaster for City. Delirium for United.
Man United 1-6 Man City, 2011
United fans, scroll down now because this was one you’ll almost certainly want to forget. City fans, try not to watch this one too many times.
Mario ‘Why always me’ Balotelli, Edin Dzeko, Sergio Aguero and David Silva got the goals for City while United were reduced to 10 men after Johnny Evans saw red on an unforgettable day for the Citizens, Sir Alex Ferguson calling it his ‘worst day ever’.
Losing 6-1 to your bitter rivals at home will do that to you, Fergie.
Man United 1-1 Man City, 2001
We debated long and hard about including this one. It wasn’t the best of games in fairness, and it’s definitely not easy to call what made it so memorable ‘good’ or ‘the best’, but Roy Keane’s hatchet job on Alf-Inge Haaland certainly is one of the most ‘Iconic’ moments in the Premier League.
Keane, showing a remarkable ability to hold a grudge, slammed into his opponent’s knee in retaliation for a comment made by Haaland four years previous, the Norwegian – playing for Leeds at the time – saying that the Irishman was faking an injury.
Apparently the game finished 1-1, but the lesson we all learned was not to get in Keano’s bad books.
See also – Five of Roy Keane’s best moments on punditry
Man City 2-3 Man United, 1993
As a football fan there is nothing better than having bragging rights over your neighbours, or at the very least having something you can hold over them. City fans went into his derby in high spirits, United’s not so much. Why? Well, United had been knocked out of the Champions League in the days running up the game, having blown a 2-0 lead against Turkish side Galatasaray.
The City fans were only too happy to remind their rivals of that fact and when Niall Quinn stuck a brace of headers past Peter Schmeichel they were in dreamland. But those were the days of chronic ‘City-itis’.
“2-0 and you f##ked it up!” the home fans had gleefully sung in the first half. Have a guess what happened in the second…