There are few rivalries in modern football that are as one-sided as those between Manchester United and Manchester City. The two clubs reside in the same city, but the comparison was never close in terms of glory and stature.
United became the dominant force in English football in the 1990s and 2000s. The likes of Arsenal and Chelsea challenged them thoroughly, but United’s supremacy was rarely in doubt.
However, all that changed in 2009 when the city was bought by Abu Dhabi-based Sheikh Mansour. Now, with almost unlimited cash reserves to play with, City fans can dream of getting on the same level as their neighbours.
And that moment came in spectacular fashion exactly 10 years ago today. A Manchester derby at Old Trafford ended with City winning 6–1. To say it was the shot heard around the world would be an understatement.
Such a result came that everyone was surprised. Many thought that City were likely to win; Few expected them to deliver a heady thrashing of this magnitude.
Yet that is exactly what he did. And while it’s hard to pinpoint just one moment when the balance of this rivalry shifted, this was definitely one of them.
Let us now take a look at one of the most extraordinary Premier League fixtures in recent history.
Both Manchester United and Manchester City were fighting for the title in the 2011–12 season. United were the defending champions, having seen off a challenge from Chelsea to win the title in 2010–11.
Meanwhile, City had been two years away from a takeover that promised to make them one of the bigger clubs in England. And it looked as if they were the one side most capable of edging United to the Championship.
Going into the match, they were top of the table by two points. Theoretically, a win for United would have taken them back to the top of the league.
And even though City were the stronger side, United had every reason to be confident too. As it turned out, any confidence in the result was misplaced.
Manchester United 1-6 Manchester City: The scoreline no one saw coming
City lead United 1–0 with a goal from Mario Balotelli; A goal that has become infamous in itself. The day before the match, Balotelli had to call the fire brigade to his home after he had set off fireworks in his apartment.
And when he scored the opener, he lifted his jersey to reveal a T-shirt with the words “Why Always Me”.
But United were to suffer a setback in the second half. The moment the downfall began was when Johnny Evans was sent off. He pulled down Balotelli after the Italian had passed him, meaning a red was inevitable.
Minutes later City doubled their lead. David Silva, who scored the first goal, played in James Milner, who in turn found Balotelli in acres of space. A simple tap-in was duly over.
It was 3–0 in the 69th minute, when Milner played Micah Richards down the flank. The Englishman’s cross was met by Sergio Aguero, and a hidden one looked to be on the cards.
United struck back courtesy of Darren Fletcher, who fired home a shot from 20 yards. But the target proved to be a false dawn.
The goal prompted United to press forward in search of a second goal. However, when he did, he left behind a lot of space that could be exploited.
As such, when Edin Dzeko – who came off the bench – scored the fourth on a quick counter-attack, it came as little surprise to anyone.
The fifth goal was scored by Silva, before he once again turned provider for Dzeko to seal the win. 6-1 full time; Even City’s most optimistic fans couldn’t have dreamed of it.
Amazingly, this did not signal the end of that year’s title race; It will go all the way down to the wire. Both teams entered the final day of the season knowing they could win the title.
Manchester United thought they had done enough but Manchester City staged a late comeback against QPR and stole the title. United would win the title in 2012–13; However, it would turn out to be United’s last ever Premier League trophy.
Since that time, City have won four Premier League titles. The balance of power has well and truly shifted to the blue side of Manchester.
City’s surprise dismissal by Sir Alex Ferguson makes it even more enjoyable. Ferguson famously declared that City would never be a top side “in my lifetime”.
Yet as it stands, United have not won the league title in eight years and City are the defending champions of England’s top flight. As the old saying goes, life comes at you fast.