Manchester City versus Manchester United: Bigger, noisier and more important than any other game
Written by Mark Ogden from the UK's Telegraph
Posted on November 8th, 2010
It was Ian Brown, former lead singer of the Stone Roses, who proclaimed, 'Manchester's got everything except a beach.'
To outsiders, that kind of statement perfectly sums up the Mancunian psyche. Cocky, self-satisfied and with an unswerving belief in their own self-importance.
But as the rest of the country begins to focus on England's second city (sorry Birmingham, but that's what Mancunians think) ahead of Wednesday's Manchester derby between City and United, it appears fair to suggest that Ian Brown has a point.
The following claim will be dismissed, ridiculed and laughed at in London, on Merseyside and in the north-east but, in Manchester City versus Manchester United, Manchester can now lay claim to the biggest game in English football.
United versus Liverpool will always be the most historic, between the country's biggest and most successful clubs, while the Merseyside derby continues to have its own unique place in the fabric of the game.
But no game can match City versus United when it comes to bitterness, hype, fear and loathing.
Sorry London, but Arsenal versus Chelsea or Spurs against Arsenal wouldn't even prompt most fans in the north-west to flick over from the X Factor or the Antiques Roadshow.
The football village based outside of Manchester will be tuning in on Wednesday night, though, to watch the latest spat between Carlos Tevez and Sir Alex Ferguson unfold and to see whether City can secure the win that will prompt new talk of a shift in the balance of power.
Will the biggest finally be toppled by the richest? Will the noisy neighbours drown out their gloating rivals?
Was Wayne Rooney right to turn his back on the riches on offer at Eastlands to sign a new contract at Old Trafford?
City versus United isn't Coronation Street. It is more like Dallas, with Fergie playing the role of JR Ewing and City in the role of Bobby.
They used to be Cliff Barnes, the eternal loser, but Sheikh Mansour's money has transformed City and made them a genuine rival to United.
And that is another reason why the Manchester derby now dominates the football landscape and why it commands a week-long build-up.
Until recently, it was the most one-sided derby in England. United fans had stopped caring and they had certainly stopped worrying about games against City.
Between the 5-1 demolition at Maine Road in 1989 and the Shaun Goater-inspired defeat at City in 2002, United did not lose a single derby.
United dished out some real hammerings, too. Andrei Kanchelskis rattled in a hat-trick during United's 5-0 win in Nov 1994 and they also cruised to a 3-0 win at City later that season.
And there was the clash at Maine Road in Nov 1993 when City raced into a 2-0 half-time lead before Eric Cantona inspired a second-half fight back as United emerged with a 3-2 win.
It was all too easy for United back then, but it isn't easy now.
City have lost their inferiority complex and even Ferguson has conceded that the blues are now serious rivals.
And for the first time since the 1960s, City versus United can directly influence the title ambitions of both clubs.
That doesn't happen anymore on Merseyside and it hasn't happened for half a century in the Midlands or the north-east.
Chelsea versus Arsenal is about the title every season, but the supporters of both those clubs will admit that game is not even their number one derby.
City versus United is exactly that, but it's significance now stretches way beyond the M60.
And on Wednesday night, it will show just why it is now the biggest game in England.