For nearly 40 years, all was tranquil in Manchester, at least soccer-wise, with the red of United easily trampling the blue of City repeatedly. Now, however, not so much.
Ever since the injection of Arab money propelling the latter to perennial title-contender status and a host of problems plaguing the former, the balance of power is switching in one of England’s biggest cities.
Even earlier in this millennium, United boasted lineups including legends of the game, such as Edwin Van Der Sar, Gary Neville, Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand, Patrice Evra, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs, and Cristiano Ronaldo.
If this seems like an oddly specific number of players, consider that this was part of United’s line up in the 2008-09 season, in which they won their third straight Premier League title, their first FIFA club World Cup crown, a League Cup title, and an appearance in the UEFA Champions League final.
By contrast, just 10 years earlier, Manchester City was in the third tier of the English soccer system, being League 1. Since then, though, life in Manchester has been turned upside down.
Two factors largely play into this, one for each team. Firstly, in 2008 City were bought by the Abu Dhabi United Group, and thus with all this money a world of opportunities was born.
In those first two summers, they spent nearly $200 million on transfers, most notably on the like of Robinho, Joleon Lescott, and Carlos Tevez, who had previously played for crosstown rivals United.
Since then, City have continued their financial escapades by bringing in notable names such as Samir Nasri, Fernandinho, and Stevan Jovetic, not to mention many others. At Old Trafford, while big-name signings such as those of Robin Van Persie and Angel Di Maria have been completed, it has been the loss of Sir Alex Ferguson that has most shaped the club recently.
After he decided to leave while he was on top following United’s record 20th league title, Ferguson brought that potent United aura with him. Last season ended up being one that many United fans will hope they can forget, with David Moyes taking over from Everton and watching as his side stumbled and bumbled its way into a 7th place finish before ultimately being fired mid-season.
Once Giggs finished that season off, it marked the first time since 1990 that United would not be participating in European competition. Over this offseason, the Glazer family eventually decided on the heralded Dutchman, Louis Van Gaal to lead the Reds this year, albeit considering things are not off to the best start as of right now.
Moving forward, the natural ebbs and flows of time will tell if the fates of the two most prominent Manchester clubs will reverse, or if Red Devil fans will want to cover their eyes for a little bit longer.
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