The Football Capital of Great Britain
Manchester is now, without doubt, the football capital of Great Britain, with London, Glasgow and Liverpool distinctly left behind. The recent investment in Manchester City, combined with Manchester United’s dominance of the Premier League-era, has given the city a preeminent place in world football.
Indeed, with Manchester City having recently won the Premier League, and looking to compete on a European stage, Manchester could become only the second city to be home two different European Cup winners. The other? Milan of course, with both AC and Inter having been European Cup winners. Although winning the Champions League is far harder than winning the Premier League, who’d bet against City spending big over the next couple of years and building a dream team of superstars?
In fact, from a neutral perspective, it is difficult not to be tempted by the next few years of rivalry between City and United. Much has been made of United’s dominance during the Premier League era, in comparison with the Spanish or German leagues, whose talent has been shared between more teams. Manchester United have, under Sir Alex, been famous not only for buying well, but for developing good young players. With the Glazers unwilling and unable to match Sheikh Mansour, it is likely that Sir Alex Ferguson will be putting his famous eye for talent to use to attract players before they become megastars.
As much as it is difficult to sympathise with Manchester United fans crying at their side’s second placed finish (particularly if you happen to support a team that has won one solitary Coca-Cola Cup during your lifetime), the rise of City will force United to take a different approach. And Fergie is the perfect man for the challenge. The mouth waters at the prospect.
In a bizarre way, the rise of City may in fact help to diminish the dominance of money in English football. It sounds strange, but effectively City can buy anyone they want, meaning that no club will want to be in a bidding war with Manchester City. Managers and owners will have to develop good youth strategies and to scout talent in new areas of the world, such as the Far East and North America. All of these suggest a shift away from raw capital, which has to be a good thing.
In fact, for the neutral fan, the rise of Manchester may make a trip to the city even more tempting. If you’re planning a city-break, then there’s a reasonable chance that you can get a deals on a cheap weekend break during the season, with a trip to Old Trafford on Saturday, and the Etihad on Sunday. Alternatively, during some of those great Champions’ League nights in November, you could conceivably get a night at Old Trafford on a Tuesday and the Etihad on a Wednesday, and take advantage of cheaper hotels in Manchester. Suddenly the rise of Manchester seems to benefit not just the city itself, but football in general.
Written by Jamie