Manchester (United Or City), Versus London (Chelsea Or Arsenal)

Posted: September 19, 2015 in Arsenal, Chelsea, Football, Manchester City, Manchester United, Opinion
Tags: , , , , , , ,


Oliver Charles T Holt has a theory. It isn’t a theory I agree with, but it is a theory.

For those of you who don’t know him, Oliver Holt is a football writer for the Mail on Sunday. He is the son of Eileen Darbyshire who, for fans of Coronation Street, needs no introduction. He is also a Stockport County supporter, which is fair enough, as he is from Stockport.

Now to his theory. I have heard it a couple of times on The Sunday Supplement, Sky Sports’ programme for ageing writers to pretend they know something about football and, what is even worse, to display their lack of knowledge to two, or even three, hundred viewers.

Hosted by Neil Ashton, another writer from the Mail, the “show” is an interesting concept but, unlike it’s counterpart in cricket which is hosted by an ex-professional cricket player and attended by journalists who also played the game professionally, this one is strictly for amateurs, and it shows.

So the theory from Ollie Holt is that the majority of foreign players, when considering a move to the Premier League, will plump for London over Manchester or Liverpool every time. He admits that this is difficult to accept as he is from Manchester, but that it is probably true.

Well Ollie, I am also from Manchester and I think that it probably isn’t true.

Off the top of my head I can think of only two players who actually said they would prefer a move to London. Neither of them had lived there before and so had no previous experience. One of them was Charlie Nicholas who acquired the nickname “Champagne Charlie,” shortly after moving to London. He had the choice of Manchester United, Liverpool or Arsenal and chose Arsenal.

The other player is Eden Hazard who, reportedly, chose Chelsea rather than either of the Manchester clubs. Again, given the relative equality between the three teams this decision can only have been based on living in London. Both Manchester clubs attract bigger crowds than Chelsea and both have a deeper history although, in the case of City, not by very much. (My sources actually refute this story and say that United were never interested while City pulled out of any deal due to the players’s demands, leaving Chelsea as the only interested party)

Looking at the recent evidence there is much more to suggest that players actually move the other way, i.e. from London to the North West.

Manchester’s population has included more ex-Arsenal players than any other city outside of London. Starting back in the 1960’s with David Herd and Ian Ure, then the 1970’s with George Graham, then into the 1980’s with Frank Stapleton the steady exodus has continued. Robin van Persie was the last Arsenal player to join United.

City, of course, can boast even more. Starting with David Seaman, he was followed by Patrick Vieira, (via Juventus), Emmanuel Adebayor, Samir Nasri, Gael Clichy and Bacary Sagna. I am not listing these players in any particular order and I may also have missed one or two out but that is not the point. The point is that there has been a lot of movement FROM London to Manchester rather than the other way round.

So, where I disagree with Oliver Holt, is with his assessment that players would rather move TO London.

If he means that players who are moving to the UK from abroad for the first time would rather live in London how does he know? On what does he base that supposition? I would think that a player would have international team mates in the UK and would seek their advice before moving. Some may suggest a move to London would be advantageous, but only if they are at a London club themselves and want their mate to join.

Manchester City have a bigger advantage in attracting Argentinian players than any other club in the Premier League due to the fact that they can offer Sergio Aguero, Pablo Zabaleta, Bruno Zuculini, Martin DeMichelis and Nicolas Otamendi as potential team mates. Manchester United would be second choice, not because they have many Argentinians, but because City do, and the two clubs are in the same city.

Even Louis van Gaal agrees with me, you can read what he thinks about it here, (it is the Daily Star but I have no reason to disbelieve the story):

Liverpool have signed the likes of Glen Johnson from Chelsea, Daniel Sturridge from Chelsea. There doesn’t seem to be much going the other way unless you count Fernando Torres and we all know what a good buy he was for Mr Abramovich.

My final argument against Oliver Holt’s assertion is a very simple fact of life. Manchester is a better place to live in than London. In fact Manchester is 9 places better to live in than London. If you don’t believe me, here is what a recent survey discovered:

“Manchester has been named as the best UK city to live in.
The city beat London after being voted the world’s 46th most liveable city in 2015.
The Global Liveability Survey was compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit and rated cities out of 100 in the areas of health care, education, stability, culture and environment and infrastructure. London was placed 55th.”

I rest my case.

  1. Man City have a richer history than Chelsea ? Do they? maybe in fantasy football but not in the real world, not on any level.
    Anyone with 2 brain cells would choose London imo. Far far more to offer.


  2. Thanks Kojak. You’re right on the history as long as you don’t go back further than 1997. In other words the vast majority of Chelsea’s history has occurred in the last 18 years. My choice of word was definitely wrong on that one. I should have said ‘deeper history’ or ‘longer history’ and I will change it to reflect what you have said. Thanks for the opinion though, it’s what makes the world go round!


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