In the heart of Manchester, there’s a particular junction on Oxford Road. The junction gives you two options — either to take the road to the Etihad Stadium or take the one which leads to Old Trafford.
This common road is called Mancunian Way. But there won’t be a lot of people standing in the middle of it. You either turn left, or you turn right… there’s no middle ground; there is no fence-sitting. You’re either a Citizen or a Red Devil.
It may come and go every season, but the hype surrounding a Manchester derby never recedes. Maybe, if both clubs continue to vie for top spot in the years to come, this could become game of the season — eclipsing the Manchester-Liverpool derby.
As both clubs get ready to face off one more time on Sunday (7PM IST and we’re doing live updates!), we take a look at some of the most memorable Manchester derbies ever.
31 August, 1957- Manchester United 4-1 Manchester City: This one’s not memorable for the score. This one, probably City fans would also be ready to forgive. It was the last Manchester derby where Duncan Edwards, Roger Byrne, David Pegg, Eddie Coleman, Liam Whelan and Tommy Taylor featured before they lost their lives in the Munich disaster. Edwards, Taylor, Johnny Berry and Dennis Viollet were on target for the Reds.
27 April, 1974- Manchester United 0-1 Manchester City: Denis Law scored 21 goals in 44 appearances for City before eventually going to United and scoring 237 times in a red shirt. After 11 seasons at Old Trafford, Law returned to City for one last season. And as football would have it— in the last game of the season, he scored with a cheeky back-heel against United which condemned the Red Devils to relegation after 36 years in the top flight. Law didn’t celebrate and was so distraught after the goal that City substituted him. The game went on only till 85 minutes before a pitch invasion stopped it.
United would be relegated that day due to other results anyway, but it was one of the most incredible derbies ever. Law is one of United’s holy trinity and is immortalised in a statue outside Old Trafford, along with Bobby Charlton and George Best.
23 September, 1989- Manchester City 5-1 Manchester United: Long before the 6-1 mauling last year, this used to be Alex Ferguson‘s ‘most embarrassing defeat’. There was a bicycle kick in this one too — from Mark Hughes, who later went on to become City manager (gosh, football!). But goals from David Oldfield, Trevor Morley, Ian Bishop and Andy Hinchcliffe were enough.
21 April, 2001- Manchester United 1-1 Manchester City: The Roy Keane vs Alf-Inge Haaland battle ended on this day. A few seasons after Haaland (then playing for Leeds United) had injured Keane and blamed him for feigning injury, the United midfielder got his chance for vengeance. In an utterly disgusting tackle, he went studs up into Haaland’s right knee and later admitted that he hurt him on purpose. It led to a 150,000-pound-fine. Haaland went on to play the rest of the game and the next match, and contrary to popular notion, the tackle did not end his career.
9 November, 2002- Manchester City 3-1 Manchester United: This was City’s last derby at Maine Road, their old stadium and ended a 13-year wait for a win over their local rivals. Much-travelled striker Nicholas Anelka fired City in front before Ole Gunnar Solksjaer levelled. But Shaun Goater scored a couple of goals to leave City fans with great memories at Maine Road.
20 September 2009- Manchester United 4-3 Manchester City: A former Liverpool star scoring in the last minute for United? Yes, it can happen. In a Manchester derby, anything can happen. United had taken the lead thrice— once through Rooney and twice through Fletcher, but a goal from Gareth Barry and a double from Craig Bellamy brought back City every time the home team went ahead. In the 96th minute, Michael Owen latched onto Ryan Giggs’ pass and scored the winner to etch his celebrating photo in the memories of every United fan.
12 February, 2011- Manchester United 2-1 Manchester City: It’s the match where ‘that’ goal was scored. After Nani and David Silva had scored in each half, Wayne Rooney decided to take flight, swivel in the air, defy gravity and somehow thump in an overhead kick to score the winner before celebrating with his eyes closed and hands outstretched. It was voted the best EPL goal in 20 years. Everybody loved it— apart from City fans.
23 October 2011- Manchester United 1-6 Manchester City: This was worse than the 1-5 loss. But this one’s memorable in the way City announced themselves as the new heavyweights in English football. Mario Balotelli and Edin Dzeko scored a brace each, while David Silva and Sergio Aguero were also on target. It took City five points clear at the top of the table in a season they eventually ended as champions. Vengeance for this defeat is yet to be taken.
P.S. Join us for live updates of this titanic clash on Sunday from 5 PM onwards