“I think [Man Utd vs Man City] is now one of the biggest derbies around the world. When you compare AC-Inter [Milan] and Barcelona-Real Madrid, I think United-City will be at the same level now.”
Patrick Viera on Talksport.
Big words from a big player who seems to have forgotten about ever playing for Arsenal with whom he won many honours when Manchester City were busy dropping to the third tier of the Football League. Funny how major overseas investment can lift a club and despite what you may think of Patrick Viera’s newly formed allegiance to City in recent years, he has raised quite a talking point with this “biggest derby” statement.
Football fans across the globe will be chomping at the bit to respond to the quote, especially the fans of the ‘El Clasico’ (R Madrid – Barcelona) and the ‘Derby della Madonnina’ (AC Milan – Inter Milan) but they needn’t really concern themselves with the burden.
It is obvious that the Utd – City derby is growing in importance with each season that passes but only because City are asserting themselves as challengers to the Premiership title, in a similar fashion that Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool have done over the years. And let’s not forget the ‘North West derby’ with Liverpool. Utd and Liverpool have accumulated a staggering 118 honours between them with Utd recently surpassing Liverpool with the famous 19th League title. The industrial revolution may have also have played its part in this rivalry too so there’s a set up for a classic derby for you.
But Patrick’s comparison with ‘El Clasico’ is one that, quite honestly, is up there with the ludicrous. The ‘El Clasico’ is saturated with the history of political and cultural tensions that embedded the fierce rivalry between Madrid and Barcalona that we see today. The Catalonia region (Barcelona) is recognised in Spanish history for being rebellious and stubborn especially towards the region of Castile (Madrid) which only fuels the rivalry further. Does the Manchester Derby contain this history?
Another historical derby is the ‘Derby della Madonnina’ between AC Milan and Inter Milan. Milan’s support was widely known for being the city’s working class, migrants from southern Italy and Internazionale’s being mainly prosperous Milanese middle class (richer) people.
It is possible to draw a comparison with the Manchester clubs support when speaking of classes but in all fairness, Utds support is practically international and City’s fan base prominently Mancunian plus City have not quite got the honours to evenly match Utd anyway.
And we simply cannot ignore Scotlands most controversial Old Firm derby between Celtic and Glasgow Rangers. With a rivalry that has lasted for well over 100 years, the Old Firm games can only be described as having an atmosphere of hatred, religious tension and intimidation due to the countries historical links with Northern Ireland.
At present, it’s clear that the Manchester giants, despite not liking each other all that much do not boast the same historical background as some of the world’s greatest derbies but given time this may well become the case.
Manchester City may accumulate the wealth of honours in the future that United have already but it’s difficult to see them ever drawing level with them because the Red Devils won’t simply fade away. Manchester City may have the international owner, but they have some way to go to match United’s international fanbase.
It’s safe to say we may all be looking forward to the Manchester derby this season but only because both clubs have clearly presented themselves as the only real contenders. There is a considerably long way to go though and it is just possible that the Manchester Derby could prove insignificant anyway…how funny would that be Pat?!