But it hasn’t always been that way, and as great as Manchester City are these days, it’s only recently that they established any kind of parity with Manchester United
Meanwhile, the red half of Manchester doesn’t even seem to consider the blue half to be their biggest rivals; Man U’s main hatred is reserved for Liverpool in the North West Derby.
City’s fans point out that United’s home, Old Trafford, isn’t even technically in Manchester, while United fans mock City’s Etihad ground as the “Emptyhad.” Both accuse each other’s fanbases of being recent “plastic” additions, while the rest of the country probably sees little difference between the two anymore.
Still, this local affair of Man Utd vs Man City has all the trappings of a great rivalry, from terrific games to manager spats and legendary goals. So let’s take a look at the history, and some of the top moments, of the Manchester Derby.
Manchester United History
United was founded in 1878 as Newton Heath FC, changed their name to the current one in 1902, won the league twice and FA Cup once by 1909 … and then disappeared from trophy contention. They almost went bankrupt in 1931.
But in 1945 they hired a manager named Matt Busby and embarked on a great period of success. They won three league titles in the ’50s but that team, known for its youth as “the Busby Babes,” was decimated by a plane crash in Munich on February 6, 1958. Twenty-three people died, including eight players. There is still a clock outside the stadium that is part of a memorial to that team.
Busby rebuilt the team around legends Denis Law, Bobby Charlton, and George Best — the “United Trinity” whose statue faces that of Busby outside the stadium. All three were European Footballers of the Year at various points, and together they won league titles, FA Cups, and England’s first European Cup in 1968. But Busby retired in 1969, and in 1974 United were relegated. More on this in a bit.
They got back up in a year but essentially floundered for another decade before hiring Alex Ferguson in 1986. He won 13 league titles (including three in a row twice), five FA Cups, four League Cups, and two Champions League titles — one of which came in the famous “treble” season of 1998–99, when they also won the league and FA Cup.
Ferguson retired in 2014, and another period of floundering began. They have won each domestic Cup once since then, but for their legions of fans, that’s not good enough. The fear is that they will suffer the same fate as their great rival Liverpool, who won everything in the ’60s to ’80s but then didn’t win the league for 30 years.