27 October 2023

5 of the best Manchester derbies of all time

As we gear up for the next chapter in the ever-growing rivalry when Manchester United host Manchester City this Sunday (live on Showmax Pro, courtesy of SuperSport), here’s a look at some of the classic encounters between the sides.

2009/10: Manchester United 4-3 Manchester City

The blue half of Manchester had recently been purchased by the Abu Dhabi Group and they had just started to flex their muscles in the transfer market.

They were becoming a team for the red half of the city to worry about, but Sir Alex Ferguson still called them “noisy neighbours”.

Despite the geographic rivalry, Manchester United didn’t see Manchester City as their greatest rivals on the field. They were brought up on title battles with Liverpool, Arsenal and more recently Chelsea.

In a topsy-turvy game, Michael Owen popped up in typically clinical fashion deep into injury time for one of the most dramatic late winners seen at Old Trafford.

This seven-goal thriller became the start of this fixture being treated as a marquee game on the calendar.

2010/11: Manchester United 2-1 Manchester City

This will always be seen as Wayne Rooney’s ultimate crowning moment.

Manchester United were in title race mode near the end of the season with the scores tied against their neighbours. A cross came in towards Rooney, but it seemed to be inconveniently behind him.

Rooney contorts himself to produce a bicycle kick and the ball flies into the net to make the Theatre of Dreams erupt.

After being derided by fans on the wages he’d be costing the club from his newly signed contract, all that was forgotten in the moment their promising talisman became a club legend.

The forward stood in front of the crowd with his arms aloft and his eyes closed, just letting the moment sink in.

2011/12: Manchester United 1-6 Manchester City

This was the moment that the “noisy neighbours” became more than just noisy.

Old Trafford was left stunned as the home team suffered what was their heaviest defeat in their Premier League history at the time.

Mario Balotelli scored the opener, then lifted his shirt to reveal the typically enigmatic message “Why Always Me?”.

As the United players tried to figure out what that meant, they shipped in five more goals in the second half.

City would eventually win the title on goal difference for their famous “Blue Moon” title. A new dynasty had begun.

2017/18: Manchester City 2-3 Manchester United

It was supposed to be Manchester City’s first Premier League coronation under Pep Guardiola, but his old rival Jose Mourinho had other ideas.

At half-time, it all looked to be going to plan for City with a two-goal lead as they looked for the win they needed to secure the title. Then game a backlash from United that spoiled the home supporters’ party.

In arguably Paul Pogba’s best game in a United shirt, he brought them level with two goals in two minutes. Then a winner came from the unlikely source of Chris Smalling.

That title-winning satisfaction would have to wait another day with the United players giving their fans some reprieve in a season that didn’t go to plan.

2022/23: Manchester City 6-3 Manchester United

Erling Haaland had only played a few games since signing for Manchester City from Borussia Dortmund. Could he perform in the best league on the biggest stage?

Yes. Oh, yes.

The Norwegian powerhouse marked his Manchester derby debut with a hat-trick. Then Phil Foden followed it up with three goals of his own.

For a club that’s often derided for not having a traditional fanbase, this was a special moment for two players that had strong boyhood connections to the club.

Like Sunday’s game, this one was also played in October. Have United figured out how to stem the blue tide since then?

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