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Bobby McMahon

Bobby McMahon

You can see me on Soccer Central most Mondays and Thursdays on Rogers Sportsnet in Canada. I write a regular column for and and frequently guest on various podcasts and radio shows.


United and City Poised – Is It the Start of a New Era?

Written by on May 13, 2011 | 14 Comments »
Posted in General, Manchester City, Manchester United

Between 1967 and 1969 Manchester was home to two English First Division Championships, the FA Cup and the European Cup. It was a golden age for football in Manchester and a time when noisy neighbors were just that and not the local light blue rivals.

It was also a time when many Manchester United supporters could easily remember when City were very much the top dogs in Manchester and United the upstarts that sufferred from financial crisis and on field calamities in equal measure.

The arrival of Matt Busby (a former Manchester City star) just after the war was to be the defining moment in Manchester football history. Forced to literally build United from the ground up (Old Trafford had been bombed and United had to play at Maine Road for a number of years) Busby initially went about shoring up the line up with veteran players and then slowly integrating young local players.

The youth movement was too eventually to hold sway as Busby’s scouts expanded the radius to all parts of Britain and United became known as a team where if you were good enough you were old enough.

Ironically the Munich Disaster forced Busby into re-balancing the mixture of youth and experience through necessity. With so many of United’s players lost at Munich Jimmy Murphy set about rebuilding the team as his boss lay in a Munich hospital desperately clinging to life.

Five years were to pass before United would win another trophy. But even the FA Cup win in 1963 against Leicester City was with a very real shadow of relegation hanging over the side for much of that season.

If United had been relegated there would have been a very good chance the team that would have stayed up would have been none other than Manchester City.

City was relegated with 31 points while United survived with 34 points. Nonetheless City beat United 3-2 and drew 1-1 and the draw at Maine Road came with only a couple of games left and it offered United some much needed breathing space.

With City relegated, United switched into top gear and took the English First Division in 1965 on account of a better goal difference over Leeds United.

But as United prospered City had discovered the management combination that was to lead them back. Joe Mercer and Malcolm Allison were to rebuild City with what might be the most astute set of signings ever made by a team in such a short space of time.

Mike Summerbee, Tony Book, Colin Bell and Francis Lee were all signed along with others and al were to play key roles in City winning the English First Division in 1968 holding of reigning champions United on the last day.

City went to Newcastle and won; United lost to Sunderland at Old Trafford; City won the league by two points.

Of course United would go on to win the European Cup just a matter of weeks later when they beat Benfica at Wembley Stadium in extra time.

For United 1968 proved to be the beginning of a slow decline and relegation came in 1974. Although there was a sprinkling of Cup wins many believe that it took the Premier League title win in 1993 to finally lay to rest 26 years of frustration and false dawns.

City won the League Cup in 1970 and 1976 along with the European Cup Winners Cup in 1970. They were also good enough to push Liverpool to the limit before falling a point back of the Merseysiders when the 1977 title was decided.

Demotion to the lower tier would come in 1983 for City and it would be the start of a roller-coaster existence. Financial trouble, boardroom intrigue, promotion followed by relegation followed by promotion was to become standard fare.

Tomorrow, 43 years on from the last time both Manchester sides could attach ribbons to major trophies it could happen again.

United and City played each other early in the 1968/69 season.

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14 responses to “United and City Poised – Is It the Start of a New Era?”

  1. Soccerlogical says:

    So I DVR’d “Blue Moon Rising” (Man City’s new standing in the EPL). I have no idea whether it’s supposed to be a movie or doc but I have never watched such irrelevance and self promotion.. not to mention Warren Barton wearing a blue kit while introducing the movie on FSR and talking about “love of one’s club.. blah blah blah.”

    No offense to Man City fans, just a very uninteresting movie, doc, promo or whatever the heck it’s supposed to be.

  2. Seattle_Loon says:


    Have you seen this documentary “City” from 1981 featuring Malcolm Allison and John Bond?

    Great stuff.

  3. SL – not wishing to pre-judge the “movie” Blue Moon but if it had been issued during the Cold War the producers would have been listed as the Kremlin. Pure propaganda.

  4. Seattle Loon – I have not but I will check it out.

  5. Soccerlogical says:

    Bobby – The “movie” is soooo bad!

    Anyone who follows the game gets nothing out of it except watching SKY highlights of any match day and seeing the lives of a few fans who look like they wouldn’t think twice about sticking a knife in the arse of any “Red” who passes by.

    Additionally, the producers included footage of various players to make the club look appealing and gain fans. Unfortunately, 99% of the players in the “movie” have either been sold or loaned out and will definitely not be at the club next year.

  6. The results this morning mean that West Ham’s task has been upgraded from “extremely difficult” to a smidgen short of “mission impossible.”

    39 points is not enough for survival – if Wigan can win tomorrow it could be that someone will be relegated with 42 points.

    Last season 31 points offered a safe harbour.

  7. houyhnhnm says:

    the answer is, it is a new era. But the reason is that both teams are now big money clubs, not necessarily the strategies within. Big money brings success, plain and simple. And, ManC is going to be a problem for ManU.
    Look at ManU’s competitors, the other 5. Chelsea have been their biggest opponent, winning more games against them in recent years. Arsenal they have had the better of though not completely. Liverpool they have dominated. Tottenham they have dominated.
    But, Liverpool has become a bigger money team, watch out next season. Arsenal if Wenger can fix the problem in his system can beat them. Chelsea will be back next season. And now ManC, the manchester blue, like the london blue are going to be a problem for ManU. This seasons fa cup is the beginning.

    Manchester United were the first and biggest to take advantage of the premier league creation years ago but this has lead other teams to follow and it will bring parity at the top. Next year should be very interesting for Manchester United. I personally dont think they will win a trophy next year. This summer the other 5 will have good rest and training camps I bet. Can’t wait for next season.

  8. Seattle_Loon says:

    Every year people make predictions of Man Utd’s relative demise. Every year, I imagine a May when 3 or 4 teams have a chance of winning the EPL with three or four games to go. Yet almost every year, it’s down to Man Utd and one other team. SAF has done an amazing job creating successive teams who are not only very talented but full of players as desperate for continued success as he is.

    My best guess for next year is that we have a similar scenario (Man Utd and one other team vying for title) but that the competition for both of the remaining Champion’s League qualifying spots might be incredibly tight. Then again logic would dictate the same top-four as this year.

    As a LFC fan I have been delighted with the appointment of Kenny Dalglish and Steve Clarke but the bigger question now is will there be an announcement on a new stadium or expanded Anfield ? I am pleased to hear that FSV are trying to get an Arsenal-like deal ($100 million from Emirates Airlines) to help finance either option. Yet, the longer this drags on the more skeptical I am that either option will happen. For Spurs fans what will prove to be more significant this year – missing out on the top four or failing in their bid for the Olympic Stadium which would free them from the 36k capacity White Hart Lane?

    The fact is that Man Utd, Arsenal, Man City and Chelsea are all in a far better position to compete than anyone else.

  9. Erik says:

    Saturday’s results mean Blackpool is Guaranteed of staying UP if they WIN @ Old Trafford – not an easy task but they stand a better chance than if Man U didn’t win the EPL. Before the season if you told Ian Holloway his team could stay up by beating Man U n the season finale I know he would take it.

    How big is Jermain Dafoe’s strike last week @ WHL! Without it Blackpool has 41 and is in great shape to stay up.

    Next week’s Wolves/B’burn game could be the week’s most jittery game of the week. Loser COULD be sent down and Wolves do have motivation to win because a Draw keep B’Burn UP for sure since they win GD with Wolves and exposes MM’s guys to the “wolves”

    Last year the season finale was interesting only for the top. This year the race at the bottom is the only one and I could see the battle to join West Ham in the LC coming down to the last 10 minutes

  10. Erik – are you sure that a Blackpool win guarantees Premier League football next season? Wigan can get 42 points, Birmingham can get 45, Wolves or Blackburn 43.
    Goal difference could still put Blackpool down even with a win at Old Trafford – no?

  11. Gus Keri says:

    I don’t see Blackpool winning at Man Utd.
    No matter what team SAF put, they are going to play hard because the players envolved want to be picked up for the UCL final.

    A great win for Man City

  12. Erik says:

    Bobby – solid point. Fair point – “virtually” guarantees…..sounds better…….if Wigan drop points Sunday vs West Ham (and I think they will) THEN……….

    I will say this……..IF Pool beats Man U they won’t be going down. They could – but they won’t.

  13. Gus Keri says:

    The chronicle of the English league titles records:

    1- Preston North End (first title: 1889)
    2- Preston North End (1890)
    2- Sunderland (1893)
    3- Sunderland (1895)
    3- Aston Villa (1897)
    4- Aston Villa (1899)
    5- Aston Villa (1900)
    6- Aston Villa (1910)
    6- Sunderland (1936)
    6- Arsenal (1948)
    7- Arsenal (1953)
    7- Liverpool (1966)
    7- Manchester United (1967)
    7- Everton (1970)
    8- Arsenal (1971)
    8- Liverpool (1973)
    9- Liverpool (1976)
    10- Liverpool (1977)
    11- Liverpool (1979)
    12- Liverpool (1980)
    13- Liverpool (1982)
    14- Liverpool (1983)
    15- Liverpool (1984)
    16- Liverpool (1986)
    17- Liverpool (1988)
    18- Liverpool (1990)
    18- Manchester Untied (2009)
    19- Manchester United (2011)

    Liverpool had the record for themselves from 1976 to 2009 (for 33 years).
    For how long are Man Utd going to keep it for themselves?

    Aston Villa held the record for themselves for 37 years (from 1899 to 1936). 4 more years than Liverpool

    Also Aston Villa shared the record with other teams for 19 years while Liveprool shared it for 9 more years.

    Arsenal held the record alone for total 15 years and shared it for 13 years.

    Man Utd shared the record for total 6 years and this is the first time they held it alone

    Everton only shared it for one year. never held it alone

  14. houyhnhnm says:

    @seattle loon,
    In truth, next year 4 teams will have a chance,
    Chelsea, Arsenal, ManU , MAnC

    This year only three teams were top of the table
    next year, 4 will go for it, and I imagine those 4 will succeed at points, this will make winning it harder.
    And, MAnU’s backline and defense are recognizably older and may not have the fortune with health and precision of execution they had this year.
    Let’s be honest, that undefeated sequence ManU had is the real reason why they won the premier league and that does not happen every year for any club.
    On the attack and counter attack ManU is young, exiting, organized. But, their midfield and defense is slow, and brittle.
    Rio Ferdinand is not the player he was, Evra got fortunate noncalls against Marseille and Chelsea, and other situations later in the season.
    And, lets be honest, will Berbatov be with them next year. It was Berbatov who really helped them in that unbeaten streak. I love Chicarito position and runs, but if they let berbatov go will he pick up the goals for them. I don’t think so.
    Chicarito’s biggest problem is that he can’t be a point man, if the midfield of united get shut down, it is over, and the midfield of ManU may not be as strong as it was season wide this season, next season.

    But, it will be interesting. ManU will definitely be in it and top the league at some point, but I doubt if they will keep it and more than likely the close race for the premier league crown will be tighter earlier and longer than this year.

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