Manchester United Now Eating Manchester City’s Dust, Says City Manager
Manchester United are no longer the big dogs in the northern English football mecca of Manchester. The club’s crosstown rival Manchester City are now the number one footballing force in town.
At least, that new status is the assessment of Manchester City’s manager, Manuel Pellegrini, who has been at the helm of The Citizens for less than a full season. The 60-year-old Chilean Pellegrini took over this year after Manchester City fired previous manager Roberto Mancini, though Mancini in 2011-2012 led the club to its first Premier League title and only its third top-flight championship since first gaining promotion to the first division in 1899.
Manchester City last returned to the top flight in 2002, working its way up from the third tier. Since then, the club has never left and is now a yearly title contender, under the ownership of Abu Dhabi Sheik Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, a member of Abu Dhabi’s royal family who brought his seemingly limitless wealth to Manchester City.
A second-place finish in 2013 coupled with a disappointing failure to make it past the group stage of the UEFA Champions League was not good enough for a Manchester City club that spent over £640 million — that’s more than $1 billion — in the transfer market over the last five years, and Mancini got the sack.
This year, under Pellegrini, the team now sits in third place on 54 points in a tightly bunched top four. Table-topping Chelsea has just three more points, with 12 games remaining — and Manchester City has a game in hand.
Manchester City has also already exceeded its dismal Champions League showing of last season, advancing into the knockout stage where they open against Barcelona at The Etihad Tuesday.
Manchester United, on the other hand, is headed the other direction. Languishing in seventh position with just 42 points, a repeat championship seems out of the question.
Manchester United, however, remains in Champions League contention, facing Greek side Olympiacos to open the Round of 16.
All of those factors led Pellegrini to declare Manchester United the new Number 2 in Manchester.
“If we only consider this season, there is just one club in Manchester and it is ours,” Pellegrini said Monday. But he acknowledged that Manchester United has until now been dominant. “You cannot forget what United has done in the previous years.”
Barcelona, the Spanish powerhouse who have won four of the last five La Liga trophies, and 22 overall, have made four previous visits to Manchester in international play. But all four have been for matches at Old Trafford, the fabled home of Manchester United.