United v City, the best of

November 1, 2014 Tags: , Opinion 2 comments
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It has been too long since Manchester United started a local derby, if not favourites, then in better morale than the crosstown neighbours City. Indeed, for much of the 122 year history of this game it has been United and not the Blues that has been the preeminent force. Thanks to seemingly unlimited riches City has secured two Premier League titles in recent years, although not for the first time is making a ham-fisted attempt at retaining the crown. One more twist after 167 fixtures between these sides.

Manchester United 4 – 1 Manchester City, 31 August, 1957
For many of the Babes this was the final Old Trafford derby before the Munich disaster the following February. Duncan Edwards, Tommy Taylor, Johnny Berry and Dennis Viollet scored as United began the season in fine form. The Reds completed a fifth English league title the following May, but for Roger Byrne, Eddie Colman, David Pegg, Liam Whelan, Edwards and Taylor this was the last ever home derby.

Busby Babes 1957

Manchester City 3 – 3 Manchester United, 6 November, 1971
Super Sammy McIlroy scored on his United début against City’s best side in living memory. Brian Kidd and John Aston also netted for the Reds in a classic early ’70s encounter. Franny Lee, doing what Franny Lee did best, dived to win City a penalty as the Blues came back from two down and 3-2 behind to earn a draw at Maine Road.

Manchester City 3 – 3 Manchester United, Maine Road, 27 October, 1990
Another three-all draw in a classic early ’90s match at Maine Road. City began at pace and David White’s double looked to have secured the points for Howard Kendall’s outfit before Mark Hughes countered for United. Colin Hendry added a third for City before Brian ‘Choccy’ McClair scored twice for United to grab a draw in a breathless match.

Manchester City 2 – 3 Manchester United, Maine Road, 1993
One of United’s greatest ever comebacks – this time in City’s backyard. Trailing by two thanks to a Nial Quinn brace, United returned with strikes from Eric Cantona and Roy Keane, winning it in the final minute of the match. More than 3,000 United supporters went berserk. Sweet.

Manchester United 5 – 0 Manchester City, Old Trafford, 1994
With that 1989 match at Maine Road still all too fresh in supporters’ minds, United’s flying Russian winger Andrei Kanchelskis went on the rampage, scoring an Old Trafford hat-trick. It was the match that finally stopped five years of Blue Nose crowing, allowing right-minded United folk to raise their chins once again!

Manchester United 1 – 1 Manchester City, Old Trafford, 2001
Roy Keane’s long running feud with the Norwegian Alfe-Inge Haarland led to this horror tackle in 2001. Keane saw red and was banned for three matches. Keane’s biography later intimated that the Irishman sought to hurt his opponent, a claim biographer Eamonn Dunphy made firm at an FA inquiry. It cost Keane a further five match ban and £150,000 fine. Keane denied it had the row hasn’t stopped since.

Manchester United 4 – 3 Manchester City, Old Trafford, 2009
There have been few more dramatic winners than Michael Owen’s wonderful 96th minute strike from Ryan Giggs’ pass. City boss Mark Hughes’ moaned for years about the amount of injury time added on dominated the headlines, but Owen’s dramatic winner secured the points. Just about the only decent thing the striker did at Old Trafford in three years.

Manchester United 2 – 1 Manchester City, Old Trafford, 2011
If Owen’s winner was the most dramatic, Wayne Rooney’s overhead two years’ later might just have been the most spectacular. The goal, voted the second best in the world during 2011, was truly the stuff of schoolboy dreams. Such a shame it was bracketed by two transfer requests.

Manchester City 2 Manchester United, 2012
There was no little irony in Robin van Persie’s late winner after Roberto Mancini had made it so clear that he wanted to sign the former Arsenal captain. United led through Rooney’s double, only for City to draw level by the 86th minute. Cue the finest end to a Manchester derby debut with Van Persie scoring a free-kick in the 92nd minute.

And some of the worst of…

Manchester United 0-1 Manchester City, 1974
The result that effectively relegated United with a game to go in the league season and the goal was scored by former Red Denis Law of all players. Law’s backheel was his last touch of the game – or in the English First Division. It was hard to know who was more heartbroken: the Scotsman or his former hero-worshipers on the Stretford End.

Manchester City 5-1 Manchester United, 1989
After a three year hiatus, with City languishing in the Second Division, the derby brought one of the most dramatic results in the near 100 years of fixtures between these sides. David Oldfield scored twice, with Trevor Morley, Ian Bishop, and Andy Hinchcliffe adding a miserable fifth. If anything Maine Road Massacre inspired United to more than two decades of success, often at City’s expense. A defining moment, but not as Blues had hoped.

Manchester United 1 Manchester City 6, 2011
Mario Bellotelli pondered the question “Why always me?” United fans had far darker thoughts, after all the Reds hadn’t lost so heavily at Old Trafford for more than fifty years – and this time to unthinkable opponents. Ballotelli scored twice, as did Edin Dzeko, with further goals coming from Sergio Aguero and David Silva. In truth United gifted City three late goals, but there is no doubt this proved to be a pivotal match, with City claiming the title by eight points the following May.


subterranean steve - November 2, 2014 Reply

It is often said that Denis Law’s goal for City in 1974 sent United down. Such irony that the King of The Stretford End should deal such a killer blow against United. The truth is United would have been relegated anyway, even if they had won the game. In order to keep their hopes alive, United needed to win and hope that Birmingham didn’t beat Norwich on the same afternoon, Birmingham did win, so the United v City result made no difference and neither did Denis’ goal. Still it was great theatre, sparking a pitch invasion and game abandonment. Denis’ goal came late in the game which had been a tame 0-0 affair until then.

As you said Ed, that back-heel was the last kick of Denis’ club career. If ever a striker didn’t want to score, it was then. Law was substituted immediately and that was that. He did go on to play for Scotland in the 1974 World Cup Finals.

subterranean steve - November 2, 2014 Reply

I have had a couple of emails from acquaintances questioning whether United would definitely have been relegated even if they had won against City in 1974, because they had an extra game in hand. Yes, United had a game in hand which was away to Stoke two days later. However, prior to the City game, United had 32 points and two games left so the most points they could have got that season was 36. Birmingham were already on 35 points with one to play, so their win over Norwich took them to 37, rendering United’s last two results against City and Stoke irrelevant.

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