In his press conference ahead of Manchester City’s massive match with Barcelona on Tuesday, City’s Chilean boss Manuel Pellegrini has added further fuel to the fire as the fierce rivalry in Manchester rumbles on.
Given Manchester United’s struggles this season, currently sitting in seventh place and 15 points off league leaders Chelsea, and the fact that City are just three points off top spot and tearing teams apart at will, Pellegrini has a point.
His point being: Manchester City are the best team in Manchester.
But are they the biggest team in Manchester?
In almost every other scale imaginable, United would tower above their “noisy neighbors,” But in the one that matters most, the Premier League standings, they are lagging far behind City this season.
Asked about that, this is what Pellegrini had to say.
“If we only consider this season, there is just one club in Manchester and it’s ours but you cannot forget what United has done in the previous years. We are aiming to keep growing by winning trophies – not just national but international trophies. We are fighting for four titles this year. We have to be patient because you cannot change the team from one day to another. We have to keep the philosophy of the style and for that you need time.”
When asked about the rivalry and City being bigger than United, Pellegrini replied in Spanish via a translator and said that “the biggest team is City now but we cannot forget the last few years.” The 60-year-old manager speaks good English and didn’t flinch when the translator uttered what the City boss had just said.
So, what do we think? Are City the biggest team in Manchester and if they aren’t… will they be in the not so distance future?
The massive last 16 UEFA Champions League clash with Barca, with the first leg coming up at the Etihad this week, will have a huge say as to how big City really are. Success in European soccer’s elite club competition has evaded them since Sheikh Mansour rolled in a few years ago and has splashed the cash ruthlessly ever since. If they make a deep run at the UCL crown this campaign, it could elevate City further ahead of United.
Stadium expansion, a huge new academy and training facility next to the Etihad almost finished and buying clubs in Major League Soccer, the Middle-East and the A-League are just some of the projects that have now made City the centerpiece of Mansour’s global soccer brand. United, of course, are one of the globe’s biggest sports brands. But that could dwindle in the next few years if success evades the Red Devils.
With United’s success dwindling on the field this season and a potentially rocky period ahead, it seems as though Pellegrini’s jibes of City being the bigger team in Manchester aren’t too far from the truth.