It’s just over a decade since Manchester City’s seismic 6-1 victory over rivals Manchester United at Old Trafford, with the result marking the start of one period of dominance in the derby and the end of another.
For so long the underdogs, City’s triumph denoted the shifting superiority between the two clubs, as they went on to secure the first of their five Premier League titles at the end of that season, while for United – despite a brief fightback a year later – the ensuing ten years have been difficult to stomach.
Heading into the clash at the Theatre of Dreams, it was the first time the two sides had gone into the derby as the top two in the table in the Premier League era, although there was a noticeable gulf in class as the league-leading visitors produced a commanding display to move five points clear of the reigning champions.
A goal up at the break through Mario Balotelli, Roberto Mancini’s side then found themselves with a deserved 3-0 lead heading into the final 20 minutes, with United a man light after Jonny Evans’ dismissal just after half-time.
Darren Fletcher pulled one back with less than ten to play, before the hosts were punished on the break following an attempt to get back into the game, as City hit three in the final few minutes – including two in stoppage time – to rub further salt in the wounds and inflict the Red Devils’ heaviest home defeat since 1955.
Here’s a look at the victorious side on that remarkable day in October 2011:
Goalkeeper: Joe Hart
Joe Hart enjoyed a relatively quiet afternoon against Sir Alex Ferguson’s side, as the ‘noisy neighbours’ signified their title credentials after living in the shadows of their city rivals for so long.
Although recent years have been unkind to the former England number one, Hart was at his best a decade ago, having managed to oust Shay Given from his starting berth to become the club’s undisputed first-choice goalkeeper.
Hart was handed his chance in 2010 after a successful loan stint at Birmingham City, before going on to claim the Premier League’s Golden Glove award in four of the next five seasons.
After two league titles, he was eventually moved on following the arrival of Pep Guardiola, spending time on loan with Torino and West Ham, before joining Burnley in 2018.
He spent two seasons at Turf Moor before a single season as understudy to Hugo Lloris at Tottenham, signing for Celtic last summer where he is currently enjoying something of a career renaissance.
Right-back: Micah Richards
A product of the club’s youth ranks, Micah Richards broke into the City team as a teenager in 2005, with the defender’s strength and speed immediately catching the eye as he went on to earn a senior England call-up just a year later.
Despite his early promise, however, recurring injury problems would curtail his progress in the years to come, though the 2011/12 title-winning season proving a particularly standout campaign for the full-back, as he shared the right-back berth with Pablo Zabaleta.
The clash with United was arguably the finest of that season, if not his City career, as he produced a rock-solid defensive display, while providing an assist for Sergio Aguero’s second-half strike.
That season proved to be the beginning of the end, however, as injuries inhibited his involvement over the next few seasons, failing to recapture his previous form during stints at Fiorentina and Aston Villa – where he ended his career in 2019 after a lengthy absence from competitive action.
Centre-back: Vincent Kompany
The fact that there is now a statue of Vincent Kompany outside the Etihad is a clear indication of his iconic status at the club, with the Belgian having been the captain and leader during City’s most successful period.
Initially signed as a midfielder in 2008, he developed into an outstanding presence at centre-back, making his name as one of the best in his position in the Premier League, as was illustrated by his commanding display in the derby.
He made an even bigger impact in the reverse fixture as City took control of the title race, powering home a header to clinch a pivotal 1-0 home victory en route to the club’s first Premier League title.
The current Anderlecht boss struggled with injuries in the seasons that followed, but continued to make his mark up until his exit, notably scoring a stunning long-range effort against Leicester City during the title run-in as a fourth Premier League title was won in 2018/19.
Centre-back: Joleon Lescott
Lining up alongside the skipper on the day and for much of that season was Joleon Lescott, the England international having been one of the early signings of the Sheikh Mansour era after an impressive spell at Everton.
In five years at the Etihad, the centre-back won two league titles, an FA Cup and a League Cup, before making the switch to West Bromwich Albion in 2014 and later having spells at Aston Villa, Sunderland and in Greece.
Lescott aided Kompany in marshalling the United attack – and most importantly Wayne Rooney – during the 2011 derby win, while also setting up substitute Edin Dzeko’s late strike.
Left-back: Gael Clichy
Completing the back four was former Arsenal man Gael Clichy, with the left-back one of a handful of Gunners stars who traded the Emirates for the Etihad around that time, alongside Samir Nasri, Kolo Toure and Bacary Sagna.
A peripheral member of Arsene Wenger’s ‘Invincibles’ side, the Frenchman spent eight years in north London before making the switch to City, going on to enjoy six seasons in Manchester in which he largely battled it out with Aleksandar Kolarov for a starting berth at left-back.
Clichy was allowed to leave in 2017 at the end of Pep Guardiola’s first season at the club, signing for Istanbul Basaksehir, where he helped the Turkish side to a first-ever league title in 2020. The 36-year-old currently plies trade for Swiss side Servette.
Midfield: James Milner
An underrated member of this side, James Milner may not have been the most glamorous arrival under the new regime, but quickly emerged as a key player under Roberto Mancini and provided a brace of assists for Mario Balotelli in the win over United.
The England international had previously burst onto the scene as a 16-year-old at Leeds United in 2002, before going on to impress at both Newcastle United and Aston Villa.
After five years at City – having signed from Villa in 2010 – the versatile midfielder moved on to Liverpool on a free transfer in 2015, with the move proving to be a masterstroke by the Anfield outfit as Milner has since been integral to the club’s recent domestic and European success under Jurgen Klopp.
Midfield: Gareth Barry
Milner had followed former Villa teammate Gareth Barry to Manchester, with the midfielder having joined the club a year earlier, in somewhat controversial fashion having been club captain at Villa Park.
Barry proved a hugely valuable asset during his four-season spell, making 30+ top-flight appearances in each of his seasons at the club before departing for Everton in 2013.
After four years at Goodison Park, he joined West Brom in 2017 and would go on to achieve a notable milestone at the Hawthorns, moving past Ryan Giggs (632) at the top of the all-time list after making 635 Premier League appearances, before retiring in 2020 after two seasons in the second tier.
As for the 2011 drubbing, Barry was an effective presence in midfield as the visitors dictated the tempo, although he was unable to add the goal he scored at Old Trafford in a 4-3 defeat two years earlier – his first goal for the club.
Midfield: David Silva
David Silva has also been recognised with a statue outside of the club’s home ground, following a sensational decade-long stint with the club after making the switch from Valencia in 2010.
The Spaniard’s arrival coincided with the end of the club’s trophy drought as City won the FA Cup at the end of his debut campaign, one in which playmaker ended with 15 assists in all competitions – a sign of what was to come over the next ten years.
Silva finished with a league-high total of 15 assists the following season as a key component in Mancini’s title-winning side, notably teeing up Edin Dzeko for the sixth goal in the 6-1 thrashing at Old Trafford, having already capped a masterful midfield display by firing in the game’s fifth just moments earlier.
The World Cup winner’s time in Manchester came to an end in 2020 with four league titles to his name, the 35-year-old currently back in his native Spain with Real Sociedad.
Midfield: Yaya Toure
The Premier League has seen few talents quite like Yaya Toure, the Ivorian powerhouse a supremely gifted midfielder who was so integral in aiding the start of City’s domestic dominance, having made the switch from Barcelona in 2010, linking up with brother Kolo.
While largely a defensive-minded midfield player and at times a stand-in centre-back at the Nou Camp, Toure thrived in a more advanced role during his time in England, enjoying a particularly profitable campaign during the 2013/14 title-winning season in which he netted 20 Premier League goals.
His time at the club came to an acrimonious end following a dispute with Guardiola, as he moved on to Olympiacos in 2018, though he remains fondly remembered by City supporters, particularly for his Wembley strikes in both the 2011 FA Cup final and the 2014 League Cup final.
Forward: Sergio Aguero
The scorer of City’s third on the day, Sergio Aguero is another to have earned legendary status in the last decade, with the Argentine the club’s leading marksman after scoring 260 goals in 390 appearances.
The striker made the switch to Manchester in 2011 in a £35m deal, making his mark with a brilliant brace on debut against Swansea City, before ending that first campaign with 23 Premier League goals.
The most important of that season – and of his entire City career – came on the final day against Queens Park Rangers, as he dramatically fired in in stoppage time to snatch the title from United’s grasp.
His time at the club came to an end last summer as he made the move to Barcelona on a free transfer, moving on from these shores with a glittering haul of silverware, while he also now holds the record for the most hat-tricks in Premier League history (12), after surpassing Alan Shearer.
Forward: Mario Balotelli
The high note in what can only be described as a turbulent Manchester City career, Mario Balotelli producing a starring derby display, netting twice either side of the break to put the away side firmly in the ascendency.
His side-footed opener, which came after 22 minutes, was followed by one of the most iconic celebrations in Premier League history, the Italian revealing his ‘Why always me?’ undershirt just a day after infamously setting off a firework inside his own bathroom.
Those few days perhaps epitomise the striker’s footballing career, from the bizarre to the brilliant, albeit with any moments of magic having become all too infrequent since his Etihad departure.
Since leaving in 2013, the 31-year-old has developed into something of a journeyman, initially thriving at AC Milan, before mixed stints at the likes of Liverpool, Marseille and Nice, while he currently plies his trade for Turkish side Adana Demirspor.
Despite only entering the fray as a 70th-minute replacement for the man above, Edin Dzeko made a telling impact to write his name into City folklore, firing in twice in the final few minutes while also teeing up teammate Silva to cap a remarkable late cameo.
The Bosnian striker proved himself to be a hugely reliable asset during his five-year spell in England, netting 50 Premier League goals in that time and 72 in all competitions, after joining the club in January 2011 after a prolific spell in the Bundesliga with Wolfsburg.
— Premier League (@premierleague) January 7, 2020
After falling out of favour in his final season at City, Dzeko made the switch to Roma and netted 85 Serie A goals over the next six seasons, before joining Inter Milan last summer.
Nasri spent six trophy-laden years at the Etihad after joining from Arsenal in 2011, though perhaps failed to truly rediscover the form he had shown during his time in north London, in which he was a pivotal part of Arsene Wenger’s side.
He joined Sevilla on loan during Guardiola’s first campaign at the club in 2016, before a spell with Turkish side Antalyaspor and two largely unsuccessful stints at West Ham and Anderlecht.
As for the 6-1 derby victory, the playmaker was a 76th-minute substitute in place of goalscorer Sergio Aguero.
The Serbian had little impact after coming on for James Milner in the final minute of normal time, although he enjoyed a largely respectable career nonetheless during his time in England, scoring 27 times in 247 appearances for the club in all competitions.
The attacking full-back joined from Lazio in 2010 and featured heavily over the next seven seasons, but frustratingly struggled for consistency despite his obvious attacking quality.
After making a controversial switch to Roma in 2017, the left-back moved to Inter Milan in 2020 and was a bit-part presence in the club’s title triumph last season.
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