Manchester United v Manchester City: The Manchester derby is one of those games that demands everybody’s attention, regardless of your footballing affiliation.
When City play United, it’s a game that is likely to decide the Premier League title, or, at the very least, bring out a scrap or two.
Here, Football FanCast takes a look at five of the most unforgettable moments from these magical games…
True genius is just not about aptitude and application. It’s also about timing. For a player who carpet-slippers sumptuous passes for a living to enact his finest example of them all at Old Trafford with City 5-1 up and their hated neighbours already beaten down into humiliation reveals – as if a reveal were even necessary – that David Silva is simply different class.
A quirky control of a Joleon Lescott hoof that is nodded down into his path pings the ball into the air. Waiting for gravity to do its work affords the Spaniard a second to spy Edin Dzeko prowling into space with two United defenders acting as guiders for the cushioned volley to follow.
The execution of it is so sublime it regresses grown men back to childhood.
A shinner winner?
Should anyone be foolish enough to belittle the deeply entrenched rivalry of derby games they need only speak to City supporters about Wayne Rooney’s magnificent over-head winner in 2006.
For them this picture-perfect study in acrobatic ferocity was, is, and will always remain nothing more than a fortunate ‘shinner’ due to the ball connecting with the United striker’s ankle area rather than boot.
Derbies defy logic, reasoning, and due appreciation and long may that always be the case.
Neville feeds the Goat
On November 9th 2002 Alex Ferguson’s aristocratic United made the short journey across town for the last ever derby held at Maine Road.
Boasting seven Premier League titles and a Champions League this was an all-Manchester affair that was a very different animal to the ones we see today and despite Kevin Keegan’s assembling of an exciting City side the Reds were clear favourites.
There was an awful lot to greatly admire about United of this era but for Blues there was also a great deal to despise and in Gary Neville they had a teacher’s pet hate-figure who seemed to represent every negative.
It was somewhat apt then that the decisive mistake that determined this fixture came from the dithering of Neville and better yet it ‘fed’ Shaun Goater, a beloved cult icon of the Kippax.
Owen leaves it very late
Not every game has its own Wikipedia page. This one does and frankly there is a book to be written on the astonishing drama that played out on September 20th 2009. Even without Michael Owen’s 97th minute winner it would have gone down as a stonewall classic of the genre with City pegging back the hosts three times, the latter occasion a last-minute equaliser by Craig Bellamy.
Bellamy was also in the thick of things late on when he struck a fan who invaded the pitch.
City sub Javier Garrido, meanwhile, was reportedly hit by a coin as he walked off at half-time while Alex Ferguson and Gary Neville made no bones about taunting the away end on the final whistle, each risking the FA’s wrath.
This was not, it’s is fair to state, a derby for the faint-hearted.
Yet really it was all about Owen’s contentious clincher. City later questioned where the extra minutes came from. United simply didn’t care.
Impeccable in mourning
When it was widely realised that the 50th anniversary of the Munich air disaster coincided with the weekend of a Manchester derby the media whipped up an imagined storm in 2007 about the possibility of Blues disrupting the planned minute’s silence.
The scaremongering was a disrespectful underestimation of City and the city itself.
Blues to a man, woman and child were impeccable that day – as too, of course, were United – as Manchester came together to pay their respects to their lost sons.