The weekend has proved a triumphant one for the city of Manchester. While Manchester United claimed a record 19th league title, Manchester City secured the FA Cup, finally giving their long suffering fans something to cheer after 35 years of waiting, and justifying the huge investments in their squad. With both sides of the city celebrating success over the last 48 hours, it also gave what could prove a fascinating glimpse into the future.
The dynamic in the city is long established; United gleefully going from success to success, while City play the role of the underachieving poor relations, but predictions of a shift in the balance of power finally look as though they could come to fruition. There is a widespread feeling amongst City fans that the raucous celebrations that accompanied their cup triumph will be the first of many, something that they will be keen to remind their United counterparts of, who have been only too happy to revel in the Blues’ misery over the years. While the rivalry has always ran deep off the pitch, on the pitch it is sure to go up a notch or two over the coming seasons.
City’s financial clout will this summer finally be complimented by the alluring offer of Champions League football, theoretically putting them in with a realistic shout of signing almost anyone that takes their fancy. Harry Redknapp resignedly declared that he believes Manchester City have already made at least a couple of signings that will “blow your brains out” after his Tottenham side lost out in the chase for that coveted fourth spot. Summer spending could be dictated by talisman Carlos Tevez’s likely departure, leaving the Citizens sure to bolster their striking options in particular. Additionally they will seek to solve the problem left-back position, with Aleksandar Kolarov unconvincing and Pablo Zabaleta only a makeshift option, giving their team a potentially formidable look going into the next season.
However while City fans may be justified in their sense of optimism about their own prospects, they may be mistaken in their beliefs of the imminent decline of their cross town rivals. Crowing about United’s rumoured debts has been quietened by the Reds’ success this season, and debt or no debt Sir Alex Ferguson has been able to identify and sign a number of talented players who have added a great deal to his squad, most recently Chris Smalling and Javier Hernandez.
While City will be relying on new faces to propel them to the top of the footballing hierarchy, the key for United is continuity. Ferguson has installed a young element to compliment his team’s experience. Gary Neville recently stated his belief that the Scot will not be stepping aside just yet: “He just feels the job is never complete. As a United fan the job at United is never complete – it just goes on forever” with the Scot aleady focusing on the future: “I’m not changing anything. I’m not going to take it easy because we won the title today. Hopefully we’ll be better next season.” The winning mentality Ferguson has installed throughout the club will continue to be passed from the older squad members through the largely British core, right down to new signings and the very promising youth team, who face Sheffield United in the first leg of the FA Youth Cup final tomorrow.
Sir Alex Ferguson has worked hard to get United on top of that perch, and now they are there they will not be willing to shift anytime soon, especially not for their so called “noisy neighbours.” The battle for supremacy in years to come looks set to rage not just for the city, but maybe for the nation.