Will Manchester Be Blue Or Red Come May?

  • 9th September 2016

Will Manchester Be Blue Or Red Come May?

The biggest derby of English football is taking place this weekend and it’s never been this competitive and intense since the rivalry began back in the 20th century. Since their first ever match up in 1947, there has been 161 matches between the two Manchester clubs resulting in the Red Devils winning 40.99% (66 games) of the match ups, The Citizens 27.95% (45 games) and 31.06% (50 games) of the games ending in a draw. Within these games over 450 goals have been scored and many exciting games have occurred, including Manchester City’s 6-1 trashing of United back in October 2011 and not to forget Michael Owen’s last minute winner which helped the Red Devil’s see off the Citizens in a 4-3 win back in 2009. The Manchester derby never fails to disappoint because simply, who knows what could happen. A factor which is going to make this match-up particularly interesting is the additions which both Manchester clubs have made in this summer’s transfer window. However, I think it’s fairly evident that the Red Devils and the Citizens went with a different approach this summer with United looking for instant results while City making some necessary additions but predominantly looking to build for the future within this transfer window.

The Red Devils have made some additions this summer such as flamboyant midfielder Paul Pogba who’s bound to be a born leader and a future Manchester United captain, although he hasn’t hit the ground running at United there’s no doubt that Pogba will eventually settle into the Premier League. Whether he warrants the 89-million-pound price tag is a completely different question. Although, people have labelled Pogba as a ‘waste of money’ and ‘overpriced’, this world record price tag only represents 18% of Manchester United’s annual turnover. To put this into perspective, this is like Crystal Palace paying 15-million-pound for a player, it’s fair to say that people tend to forget how much of a big club Manchester United actually is. Besides, the Red Devils received 130-million-pounds in the first two weeks for shirt sales therefore the Frenchmen could provide the Manchester club with a range of financial benefits; possibly even silverware. Another benefit of Paul Pogba being a key player within the Manchester United squad is that he’s a natural world beater, he relishes big occasions and he doesn’t succumb to pressure.

Another Manchester United player with a similar mindset is none other, than Zlatan Ibrahimović. The Swedish man-mountain is a natural goal scorer with an extremely positive attitude, furthermore what sets him apart from many world-class footballers is that he is willing to accept all of the pressure himself and not blame other people. As theirs currently a fairly low morale around Old Trafford making an addition like this will be extremely beneficial to the club moving forward. Additionally, acquiring a player of Zlatan’s calibre on a free transfer is simply incredible, also this was a smart piece of business by Mourinho as the income from Zlatan’s shirt sales (76-million-pound) was so large he was able to use this money to his advantage to buy game changers such as Paul Pogba. Furthermore, additions such as Eric Bailly have been made and also Mkhitaryan who was one of the most influential players in the Bundesliga last season with 23 goals and a 26 assists.

Manchester United have clearly had a strong transfer window but so have their Sky Blue neighbours, Manchester City. They’ve brought in players such as Nolito who impressed at the Euro’s and additionally has gotten off to a great start with the Citizens managing to score three goals in four games, the same amount as Zlatan in the Premier League. However, one of City’s most expensive additions come in the form of John Stones who received a lot of criticism as many people believe that he simply isn’t worth 50-million-pound. However, he is still only 22 years old and will be a defensive option for Manchester City over the next ten years. Additionally, he’s English and he’s also being taken away by a fellow Premier League club and that comes at a price. Therefore, his price tag is probably justified. This is a very good addition for Pep Guardiola’s Man City as he has a philosophy of playing football from the back and this is exactly what John Stones will provide.

Furthermore, The Citizens have made other additions such as Ilkay Gundogan and Claudio Bravo. The addition of Claudio Bravo has caused some controversy as it left club icon Joe Hart out in the cold which forced him to go on a loan move to Torino in Italy. Guardiola claims that he wants a goalkeeper that is able to act as the last defender and be comfortable with the ball at their feet, much like how Neuer is at Bayern Munich when Guardiola used to manage their last season. Even though in Hart’s last game for City he managed to complete 16 out of 16 passes, this still wasn’t good enough for Pep. This piece of business has angered some City fans as Hart was a very loyal player to the club but The City faithful are still keeping their faith within the successful manager.

Prior to this game, both Manchester clubs will walk onto the pitch with unbeaten winning records for the 2016/17 season. These incredible runs are due to particular players which completely change the game and have stepped up this season. One of Manchester United’s stand out players in the opening games of the season has been powerful centre-back Eric Bailly. The Ivory Coast defender has had a wonderful start with life in Manchester as he received Man of the Match on his debut against Leicester in the Community Shield, he also received two further Man of the Match awards against Bournemouth and Hull City. Mourinho has also named Bailly as he’s Player of the Month, and they said Pogba and Zlatan was United’s best transfers? Bailly claims “Jose has taken me under his wing, almost like a son”, which could portray Mourinho’s relationship with players around the club. On the other side of Manchester one player who Guardiola has seemed to revive is English Winger Raheem Sterling. Pep has switched Raheem over to the opposite flank and he seems a completely different player, he gets more involved with the game and if the Citizens game against West Ham United is anything to go by; I would be slightly concerned as a Manchester United fan. Despite City’s recent fanatic wins against Stoke and West Ham, the Manchester club may be left unstuck due to the suspension of Sergio Aguero. It’s fair to say that The Citizens will struggle in front of goal without their loyal talisman however this could leave an opportunity open for youngster Kelechi Iheanacho to really step up.

This match up will be particularly interesting due to the complete opposite styles in which both the Manchester clubs play. Guardiola’s Manchester City play a 2-3-2-2-1 while United play a 4-2-3-1. How Manchester City set up is they have two holding centre backs with the two wing backs operating in midfield and defence. Furthermore, there is one holding midfielder who all the defenders aim to pass to as everything will go through this player. When the full backs join the attack the holding midfielder will drop in as a third centre back to provide cover for the absent wing backs. Therefore, The Citizens play in a very controlled and patient manner waiting for an opportunity to occur rather than forcing something to happen. While Manchester United on the other hand attempt to play attacking football by getting the ball to Zlatan as quickly as possible. Due to his pure physical strength and presence he’s able to hold the ball up waiting for support so he can offload the ball into areas of the pitch to exploit space against a retreating team while United are on the counter attack.

If this article has made you less unsure about who will win this game, let me confuse you a little more. This game is being played at the Red Devils home ground and Manager Jose Mourinho has previously had a nine-year unbeaten record at home while also winning the Premier League itself three times. On the other hand, Jose has been sacked more times in his career than times he’s actually beaten Guardiola in a game of football. Enjoy the derby.