Manchester City vs Manchester United Premier League Rivalry

Manchester City vs Manchester United Rivalry

The rivalry between Manchester City and Manchester United is one of the most iconic rivalries in English soccer. Any match between the two teams is called the Manchester Derby. Manchester United historically held the edge in the rivalry, but Manchester City has been gaining ground in recent years.


Rivalry Overview

The rivalry between Manchester United and Manchester City is a classic crosstown rivalry and one of the most well-known in professional soccer. The teams have been playing each other for well over a century, since their first match in 1881. At that time, the Manchester City team was known as St. Mark’s. Manchester United, then called Newton Heath, won the initial match and has continued to dominate the rivalry ever since. However, City has proven a worthy competitor throughout, with a recent resurgence threatening to reverse the balance of the rivalry. A match between these two teams is called the Manchester Derby; two matchups are scheduled every season, and more may occur if the teams meet in a League Cup or FA Cup playoff match.

Play between the two teams continued for nearly a century as friendly competition. Then in 1970, a violent United tackle broke the leg of a City player. Four seasons later, City won both Manchester Derby games amid bad behavior from both players and fans. Manchester United was embarrassingly relegated at the end of the season, and a rivalry was sparked. 

The rivalry has only grown stronger in recent years, particularly following Manchester City’s ownership takeover in 2008. Since then, City has seen success due to increased investment in player salaries, and the two teams are now more evenly matched. This success has eroded the traditional dynamic of a dominant United team against an underdog Manchester City. Today both clubs are regularly ranked among the best soccer teams in the world. 

Famous Rivalry Games

Man City at Man United on November 7th, 1993: Manchester United fought back from a 2-0 deficit to win 3-2, thanks to two goals from Eric Cantona. Cantona scored both goals in the following Manchester Derby, bringing United a 2-0 win and becoming a target in future matches.

Man United at Man City on September 20th, 2009: Manchester United won the first Manchester Derby of the season 4-3, after a close and hard-fought match. Michael Owen scored the winning goal in the last minute of stoppage time

Man City at Man United on December 9th, 2012: Robin van Persie helped Manchester United reach a dramatic 3-2 victory in the second Manchester Derby of the season by scoring a deflected free kick goal in the final minutes of stoppage time.

Notable Players and Coach in the Rivalry

Sir Alex Ferguson, Manchester United manager from 1986-2013: Considered by many to be the greatest soccer manager of all time, former Scottish soccer player Sir Alex Ferguson managed Manchester United from 1986 to 2013, winning more titles than any other manager in history.

Denis Law, former Manchester City forward from 1960–1961 and 1973–1974; former Manchester United forward from 1962–1973: A dominant Scottish forward, Denis Law played for both Manchester City and United throughout the 1960s. In 1974 he scored the winning goal for Manchester City, causing United fans fearful of relegation to storm the field.

Roberto Mancini, Manchester City manager from 2009–2013: A former Italian soccer player and current manager of the Italian National Team, Roberto Mancini led Manchester City as a manager to their FA Cup and Premier League championships in the early 2010s.

FAQ

Why are Manchester United and Manchester City rivals?

Manchester United and Manchester City are rivals because the two teams are based in the same city and have played each other since 1881. Manchester United has usually been the superior team but were embarrassed after being swept by City in 1973, leading to their relegation. A class dynamic also contributes to the rivalry, with Manchester United traditionally viewed as a team of foreign fans and owners in opposition to the hometown team of Manchester City.

When did the rivalry between Manchester United and Manchester City start?

The rivalry between Manchester United and Manchester City started during the 1973-74 season, which saw two meetings between the teams. The first game ended with a draw after two opponents refused to leave the field upon receiving red cards. The next game was won by Manchester City after United fans stormed the field in an attempt to stall relegation. Manchester United ended up being relegated anyway, and the previously friendly competition blossomed into a full rivalry. 

What is the annual matchup between Manchester City and Manchester United called?

The annual matchup between Manchester City and Manchester United is called the Manchester Derby. A local rivalry between British soccer teams is traditionally known as a derby, leading matches between these two Manchester teams to be called the Manchester Derby. Manchester City and United have played in the Manchester Derby most years starting in 1881 when the teams first met, playing under the names St. Mark’s and Newton Heath, respectively.