A City United in fevered anticipation - Premier League - Football - The Independent

A City United in fevered anticipation

Whoever wins this afternoon, the Premier League title will stay in Manchester. Tim Rich reports

For a few hours, for just one day, Britain's second city will become, for many, its first. Though the respective fates of Manchester United and Manchester City football clubs later today are, on the face of it, a matter for diehard fans, it's not an exaggeration to say the outcome will resonate around the country and, indeed, the world.

For a start, the owners of the two clubs have extended their not inconsiderable wallets from around the globe – the US and Abu Dhabi, specifically. They have spent a great deal of money. They expect a great deal in return.

More prosaically, for the owners of pubs and clubs across Manchester, there could be no better incentive to will the Premier League title towards the Etihad Stadium this afternoon. Liam Gallagher has announced that, should his beloved City win the championship this afternoon, he will move back home.

By 5pm either the red or the blue half will be celebrating. For United, it would be all rather routine, their 20th title and their fifth in six years. For City, the club that has transformed itself with oil money from its Abu Dhabi owners, it would be the first since 1968.

The Oasis frontman is 39 and City have never won the championship in his lifetime. In the year of his birth, 1972, they came very close, building up a substantial lead before collapsing in the final furlong in a manner that would become typical. Francis Lee, who was part of the 1968 championship-winning side, said they would win "cups for cock-ups".

From 1976 to 2011 when they lifted the FA Cup, it was all they ever won. During that time United won 12 league championships, eight FA Cups, four League Cups, and three European trophies. When City won at Wembley it forced the removal of a banner at Old Trafford's Stretford End that counted the number of years City had gone without silverware. It stood at 35.

At Swansea in March, when City lost the lead to United after five months on top, it was too much for some fans. One, John Millington, was pictured weeping in the stands. Yesterday, he said he might be tempted to cry again for very different reasons.

There are five miles separating the two stadiums but the shadow cast by Old Trafford has been all-enveloping. That alone explains the damburst of emotion that will pour out from the Etihad Stadium should City beat QPR this afternoon.

That, or matching United's result at Sunderland, will secure a championship that seemed lost when City went down at Arsenal less than a month ago to leave them flailing in United's wake, eight points behind. Across the city, T-shirts proclaiming Manchester United champions for the 20th time began appearing.

Both clubs have already booked their victory parades. City, if they win, will hold theirs tomorrow, but United have decided to wait until Wednesday, after they return from Belfast for a testimonial for Harry Gregg, one of the survivors of the Munich disaster of 1958.

The global audience for the two games has been estimated at 600 million, while winning the Premier League could earn City £230m from advertising and marketing. It will not earn the men from Abu Dhabi their money back, but it will be a start.


Manchester City

Not to be confused with Bury FC.

Founded 1880

Nickname The Citizens.

Owner Sheik Mansour al Nahyan, oil baron and small-country ruler.

Fans Mostly come from east or south Manchester.

Manager 13 since 1992. Current hot-seat occupant is Roberto Mancini.

Celebs LS Lowry, the Gallaghers, Princess Beatrice (really) and Mavis Goddard, 76, of Hulme (deceased), who did a nifty Poznan (see dance).

Fanzine King of the Kippax (named after a stand at their old Maine Road stadium).

Song "Blue Moon"

Dance The Poznan – involves celebrating a goal by everyone turning their back to the pitch, linking arms and jumping up and down. Sometimes sporting inflatable bananas.

Top scorer Kun Aguero has netted 22 times.

Top WAG Raffaella Fico, Italian model and brow-soother-in-chief to bad boy Balotelli.

Famous players Bert Trautmann: German PoW who played a cup final with a broken neck. Francis Lee: well-known pugilist. Shaun Goater: inexplicably loved journeyman pro. Mario Balotelli: mercurial Italian.


Manchester United

Not to be confused with FC United of Manchester, or the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Founded 1878

Nickname The Red Devils.

Owner Malcolm Glazer, US billionaire, not to be confused with a football fan.

Manager Sir Alex Ferguson (since 1986).

Fans Claims to be world's most popular club – undoubtedly true within the M25. A 2011 survey also found them to be England's "most hated" club – by 35 per cent of fans.

Celebs From the world's fastest man, Usain Bolt to that famous couch potato Eamonn Holmes.

Fanzine United We Stand.

Song They only sing when they're winning and they've swallowed their prawn sarnies.

Dance And risk losing the crease in the suit? You must be kidding.

Top scorer Wayne Rooney – 26 goals and counting.

Top WAG As a younger rival to Victoria Beckham, Coleen Rooney has come through the ranks to reach the heights of wagdom.

Famous players Sir Bobby Charlton, the man who so nearly made the comb-over fashionable. George Best: dubbed the fifth Beatle. Deadly dribbler, especially after a drink or 20. David Beckham: male underpants model. Not to be confused with Sporty Spice. Eric Cantona: Gallic cockerel, boulevardier, actor, martial arts expert.

John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
The programme sees four specialists creating what they believe are three perfect couples, based on scientific matchmaking. The couples will not meet until they walk down the aisle together
tvUK wedding show jilted
Arts and Entertainment
US pop diva Jennifer Lopez sang “Happy Birthday” to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, president of Turkmenistan
musicCorporate gigs become key source of musicians' income
Arts and Entertainment
You've been framed: Henri Matisse's colourful cut-outs at Tate Modern
artWhat makes a smash-hit art show
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
Mikel Arteta pictured during Borussia Dortmund vs Arsenal
champions league
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
Arts and Entertainment
Pulp-fiction lover: Jarvis Cocker
booksJarvis Cocker on Richard Brautigan
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke and Pharell Williams in the video of the song, which has been accused of justifying rape
music...and he had 'almost no part' in writing it
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week