Manchester United vs Manchester City: A new-age big-money battle

Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Paul Pogba
Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Paul Pogba

After both sides won all three of their first Premier League games of 2016-17, the derby clash between Manchester United and City this weekend is one of the most eagerly anticipated of the modern era.

A host of interesting subplots will captivate supporters on both sides of the divide, with both teams having ambitions of being heavily embroiled in the battle for the Premier League title come May.

The historical element of the rivalry plays a part in this fixture’s mystic, with a longstanding perception of the dominant force in Manchester evolving in recent years.

While United were always the big brother and successful side during the Sir Alex Ferguson era and before, City were the local, underwhelming neighbours and a team largely unable to live with their rivals’ quality.

Since the arrival of new Etihad Stadium owner Sheik Mansour in the blue side of the city and the subsequent outlandish expenditure on new players, the balance of power has shifted.

It is now City rather than United that are largely seen as the commanding force in Manchester, with the Red Devils desperate to restore parity.

The summer’s spending of the Manchester clubs put the rest of the Premier League in the shade, with both teams spending over £100 million to bolster their ranks.

City’s elaborate acquisitions of Ilkay Gundogan, John Stones, Claudio Bravo and a multitude of others has become the norm rather than an exception.

This has almost forced United to match their noisy neighbours, with the world-record capture of Paul Pogba creating headlines and seemingly almost undertaken in a desperate attempt to keep pace with their rivals.

This Saturday’s clash will see the introduction of a host of new players on each side to the derby clash and give the likes of Pogba, Bravo, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and others the chance to become an immediate hero.

Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola

The final enticing addition to this increasingly agitated fixture is the introduction of two of the world’s best managers – who have locked horns with sensational consequences before.

United have sent an SOS to a man many never believed they would, with proven winner Jose Mourinho appointed despite his at-times unsavoury demeanour, in the search for success.

City are said to have courted Pep Guardiola for many-a-year and finally landed their man after the vastly successful Catalan trainer opted to leave Bayern Munich.

The pair’s combustive altercations as Real Madrid and Barcelona head coaches respectively was explosive, at-times downright nasty and certainly never dull.

Guardiola has openly admitted that Mourinho played a major role in his departure from Camp Nou.

Mourinho has admitted he regrets poking the now deceased former Barcelona assistant coach Tito Vilanova in the eye.

Although talk of each other has been largely cordial so far as both sides have won their opening fixtures, the anticipation of what the Portuguese trainer will say ahead of the game is a subplot in itself.

Come Saturday, the pair will be reunited on the Old Trafford touchline and hostilities resumed, with both surely desperate to cement their claim as Manchester’s number one team and the dominant force in this season’s title race.

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