The swing in Manchester’s football politics that took place between the eighth minute at Old Trafford yesterday, when City took the lead, and the 24th, when United decided they would not only have it but keep it was as dramatic, in its relatively trivial way, as anything that might happen on general-election night. It is also likely to be something the blue faction will have to deal with for some time.
City fans and neutrals alike may regret this apparent development, for two titles in three seasons came as a welcome interruption to the United ascendancy that held almost throughout Sir Alex Ferguson’s long reign, and opponents of UEFA’s financial fair play will cite the red restoration as evidence that the policy favours old-established powers at the expense of those who would challenge them through the transfer market. But Louis van Gaal looks to have made United formidable again. And City are going to have to perform a lot better, both on and off the field, if they are to have any hope of keeping pace.
The Abu Dhabi ownership at the Etihad took over in 2008, just in time to build the side that took those two titles – £120 million was lavished on captain Vincent Kompany, Yaya Toure, Sergio Aguero, David Silva and Edin Dzeko, and there were plenty of other expensive signings in a spree comparable with the early years of Roman Abramovic at Chelsea – but once UEFA sanctions began to bite City had to be more careful.
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