Is The Manchester Derby The Best Rivalry In Sports Right Now?
This weekend, Manchester United and Manchester City, the two best teams in the English Premier League, will take the field with first place on the line. Over the past year and a half, they have been far and away the two best teams in English football, which begs the question: is Manchester City vs. Manchester United the best rivalry in sports at the moment?
The answer is a resounding yes.
Allow me to run down an abbreviated version of the rivalry, including some of the most recent matches between these two teams as proof, along with a host of other evidence along the way.
Let me start with how we got here. Imagine City and United to be the Mets and Yankees. United did nothing but win championships, while City struggled for years to just avoid finishing in last place for a number of years, with nothing but a 44 year title drought to show for it coming into last year.
Then imagine the Mets getting a huge infusion of cash and becoming contenders all of a sudden. This happened for City when Shiekh Mansour and his group of Abu Dhabi investors bought the team and spent over $1 billion on players in recent years. Consider the playing field level. There was a blue moon rising in a normally all red Manchester.
City failed to meet expectations for a couple of seasons, until 2011. That is when things heated up.
First, there was this gem from United striker Wayne Rooney during a Manchester Derby match which set the bar for the rivalry going forward, and one that demonstrates the astronomical skill level that each of these two teams possesses, making the rivalry all the richer.
Next up was the now infamous 6-1 thrashing of United by City in the first of two regular season derby matches last season, one that saw City's Mario Balotelli score twice, including this goal in which he poked fun at some of his off field antics (which included setting his house on fire by lighting fireworks out of his bathroom window) with a self-deprecating t-shirt.
Then you had the second Manchester Derby match of last season, in which City needed to win to get back into the championship discussion. They won 1-0 and later won the league in the season's final minute, snatching the trophy away from none other than United with the final goal of the 2011-2012 English Premier League season.
The video you see above happened in real time, as every team in the league play their final match at the same time. When Manchester United won their match against Sunderland, they thought they had won the title, until City snatched it away at the last minute, prompting the priceless reaction you see above from Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson and the United faithful.
It also prompted grown men to cry like babies and storm a professional soccer field as if it were a college basketball court, as evidenced below.
Now, let me ask you, do you see anything like that in American sports?
Are fans THAT invested in Lakers/Celtics or Yankees/Red Sox? The answer is obviously no. Combine that with the fact that all of the traditional rivalries in American sports feature at least one of the two teams not playing up to their traditional standards (the Lakers, Red Sox, Duke and North Carolina, Michigan football, and the Dallas Cowboys all fit into this category), and City vs. United has no competition other than maybe Barcelona and Real Madrid in Spanish soccer, and even that leaves little room for debate. The combination of immense talent, a cast of characters that run the gamut from villians to jesters, and the drama of two teams that are going to decide their sport's championship makes United and City the best by far.
On Sunday the greatest current rivalry in sports picks up where it left off in May, with the top spot in the world's best soccer league on the line. If you're stuck drooling over outdated rivalries in American sports, I suggest you get with the times and enjoy this clash of the titans.