By Matthew Bostock
“Sometimes you have a noisy neighbour. You cannot do anything about that. They will always be noisy. You just have to get on with your life, put your television on and turn it up a bit louder.”
That was the way Sir Alex Ferguson described Manchester City’s apparent rise to the top of the Premier League in 2009. Now here we are five years on and the situation looks very different at both Manchester clubs. City are fighting it out at the top of the Premier League with Arsenal, Chelsea, and Liverpool. United, on the other hand, are in limbo, and facing the very real possibility of finishing outside the top four for the first time since 1991. For United manager David Moyes, and City manager Manuel Pellegrini, the derby on 25th March will be a fixture neither can afford to lose.
Moyes was dubbed ‘The Chosen One’ by the United faithful at the beginning of the season, but now it seems as though their patience is wearing thin, and Moyes is beginning to run out of ideas. Granted, Moyes has inherited a depleting squad with problems all over the pitch, but this is still the same team that won the league by eleven points last season. Many predicted a dip in performance, but the decline has been far more drastic at Old Trafford and questions about Moyes’ ability to succeed is now a recurring topic of discussion. So much so, it is expected United will be prepared to spend a figure in excess of £100 million in order to maintain the success of his predecessor. However, Moyes appears to have the full backing of the Glazer family for now, and looks as though he will be granted more time than most if he does not achieve immediate success.
On the other side of Manchester at the Etihad Stadium, Pellegrini is still very much on the hunt for silverware and unlike his ‘noisy neighbour’, he does not have the luxury of time. Pellegrini has endured a mixture of success and frustration during his short time at Eastlands. His team, as it stands, are the ‘favourites’ to win the Premier League. This is down to the scintillating football City have produced, mainly at home, having already racked up a tally of more than a hundred goals this season and winning the Capital One cup on Sunday. Due to frustrations earlier in the season, they are yet to establish any sort of lead at the top of the league. Pellegrini will be very much aware of the price of failing to win further trophies this season as his predecessor Roberto Mancini was shown no remorse by City at the end of last season, despite winning two trophies in three years.
Old Trafford has become somewhat a home from home for City in recent years as they have won the past two encounters at the ‘Theatre of Dreams’. Last year they won 2-1 with Sergio Aguero scoring in the last ten minutes of the game, and the year prior to that saw the now infamous 6-1 demolition. This meeting promises to offer something different to previous Manchester derbies as City will be tipped as favourites to come out with all three points when the sides meet next month. This fixture has been given a new lease of life in recent years with City’s new found fortunes and United’s now radical decline, so drama is to be expected. No matter what the result, only time will tell whether Moyes and Pellegrini will be as successful as the clubs’ previous managers.
The derby is being played on the 25th March, tickets are available here.
Matthew is currently in his second year at MMU studying History and looking to pursue a career in sports journalism. He has a keen interest in all things football and Manchester United-related. Follow him on Twitter @mattybostock