The Truth About The Manchester Derby

Posted: October 23, 2015 in Football, Manchester City, Manchester United, Opinion
Tags: , , , , , ,

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As anybody who has read the mini-bio on the “About the Author” page will know I am from Manchester and have been a supporter of Manchester United for more than 50 years. During my formative years, in the sixties, I was taken to Old Trafford one week then Maine Road the next for many years. In fact, I was chaperoned until I was deemed old enough to go unaccompanied by an adult. At this stage I stopped going to Maine Road because I was actually a United fan and wanted to watch Law, Best and Charlton all the time. It didn’t help that City were in the old second division in those days, so that also influenced my decision somewhat.

Given this upbringing, I like to think that I am entitled to an opinion, borne of experience, on the importance of the derby game nowadays.

I am getting heartily fed up with the amount of times I read that the derby game is not the big game of the season. Whether it be from City fans or United fans they know, deep down inside, that it is by far the biggest game of the season.

Firstly, let me say that I agree with Sir Alex Ferguson when he said that the United versus Liverpool game was the most important game. When he came down from Aberdeen, Liverpool were the dominant force and he vowed to “knock them off their perch”. For many years, under Ferguson, the Liverpool game was by far the most important. He used to say it was the biggest game of the season. Whilst I disagree with this, I can understand the psychological effect it would have on the players who would obviously not want to lose this fixture after what he had said.

Once Liverpool had been removed from their perch, Arsenal became the most important game of the season because they were the big rivals for a time. Even then you would still hear Ferguson talking about the Liverpool game being the biggest. It wasn’t. Having beaten Liverpool into submission by now I don’t think Sir Alex ever wanted that achievement forgotten, so he insisted on reminding everybody what a big game it was long after it had ceased to be so big.

Next was Roman Abramovich or, more to the point, his money. Chelsea became the most important game of the season. They were now regular title contenders so to beat them laid down a marker to show them that they had competition for the title.

Manchester City were the next club to benefit from overseas investment and, because they became a threat to the top of the league, they became the most important game of the season. As we stand now, the derby on Sunday is the most important game of the season for both clubs.

The fact of the matter is that the most important game of the season is the one against whoever happens to be your biggest rivals at the time. This does not mean it is a title decider. It does not mean that you have a massive advantage if you win. In fact, history has shown that, on many occasions , the top teams will raise their game against other top teams then follow that by losing against a team at the lower end of the league.

So it may be true to say that these games are only deemed as more important than usual because of TV building them up to be so in order to ensure a large number of viewers.

Whatever the truth may be, the derby is only an important game in Manchester and elsewhere if it is between two title chasing teams. To be the BIGGEST game of the season for these two clubs it only has to take place, at any level, at any time, anywhere.

The supporters of both clubs, while maybe not prepared to admit it, know that this is the truth.

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