Manchester United vs Manchester City: Biggest Rivalries in Football – Manchester Derby

In football, many rivalries are built on two sides of one city competing against each other. One of those rivalries lies in Manchester, where its resident football teams, Manchester City and Manchester United, have been doing battle for close to a century and a half.

Both clubs have made their mark on their home city and on English and European football over the years. Here is some info on the pair’s rivalry.

The early history of the Manchester derby

The Manchester derby dates back to 1881 when St. Marks (West Gorton), who would later become Manchester City, suffered a 3-0 defeat by Newton Heath, an early incarnation of Manchester United.

The pair grew in stature and competed mainly in the Manchester City Cup, mainly won by Newton Heath and Ardwick, who had changed their name from St. Marks. Both teams tried and failed to gain admission to the football league on numerous occasions.

However, Newton Heath was admitted to the First Division in 1892, while Ardwick had to settle for a place in the English Second Division.

The first league meeting between the pair occurred in the season 1894–95. By this time, Ardwick had become Manchester City and suffered a 5-2 home defeat to Newton Heath on home soil at Hyde Park.

However, the first top-flight meeting between the pair came in December 1906, when the Citizens emerged with a 3-0 victory. The game receipts added up to £1,000, which was a huge figure for a football crowd at the time.

Who has had the best of Manchester derbies?

There have been 189 Manchester derbies (figures taken as of 14th January 2023). United have just edged the head-to-head in these local skirmishes, as the Red Devils have claimed 78 victories, compared to City’s 58 wins, with 53 games ending in draws.

When it comes to scorelines, though, Manchester City has recorded the biggest wins, recording 6-1 victories in 1926 and 2011, both of which were achieved at Old Trafford.

United claimed a 7-1 victory over the old enemy in 1941 at Maine Road, but the game was a War League, which is not recognised as an official fixture. However, both teams have claimed 5-0 victories in the fixture, with City claiming the win in 1955 and United returning the favour in 1994.

Competition Played City Draw United
Premier League 52 18 9 25
English First Division 12 2 4 6
English Second Division 104 30 39 35
FA Cup 9 3 0 6
FA Community Shield 2 0 0 2
English League Cup 10 5 1 4
Total 189 58 53 78

Records and other statistics from the derby

The record attendance for a Manchester derby came on 20th September 1947, when 78,000 people crammed into Maine Road, which was the stadium that both teams were using due to Old Trafford suffering damage during the Second World War.

When it comes to player records, some of United’s modern greats have dominated in this category. United’s all-time record goalscorer Wayne Rooney has scored the most Manchester derby goals of any player in history, scoring 11 goals against the Citizens.

Meanwhile, United’s record appearance maker Ryan Giggs has made the most Manchester derby appearances in the fixture’s history, featuring in the derby on an incredible 36 occasions.

In terms of team records, there are some interesting ones. The longest winning run of either team in the Manchester derby was achieved by United, who recorded eight straight derby victories from 1993–2000. The Red Devils also hold the record for the most unbeaten games in derbies, which stands at 14 games from 1991–2001.

Who has won the most trophies?

Both teams have been highly successful at winning trophies in their history, even if the majority of Manchester City’s silverware has come more recently than United’s.

However, in terms of trophies won, City has some ground to make up on United, as the Red Devils have won 67 trophies in their history, including European and inter-continental trophies, compared to City’s 29.

United are the most successful club in the history of the English top flight, having won the title on 20 occasions.

Who has represented both?

Many players and head coaches have had spells at both clubs. One of the most high-profile players to represent both teams is Scottish legend Dennis Law, who became an icon at United.

However, while playing for City, many say Law scored a goal that relegated the Red Devils to the Second Division on the penultimate day of season 1973/74. However, with results going against them elsewhere, United would have suffered relegation even if they had claimed a victory. The 1-0 win at Old Trafford was Law’s last as a professional footballer.

Other players who have represented both Manchester clubs include Brian Kidd, Peter Schmeichel, Andy Cole and Carlos Tevez.

Legendary Manchester United boss Sir Matt Busby spent eight years of his playing career at Manchester City. He also played for another of United’s bitter rivals, Liverpool, during his time as a player.

Another that crossed the city divide was Mark Hughes, who enjoyed the best years of his playing career before managing City in season 2008/09.

Will compete for dominance and trophies for years to come

The Manchester City-Manchester United rivalry has always been an intense one. However, the transformation in City’s fortunes in the early 2010s has led to a shift in power.

Unlike in decades gone by, both Manchester giants are now capable of competing for trophies and dominance. It is good for the city and makes the Manchester derbies much harder to call.