The first – and hopefully last – Etihad Manchester derby played behind closed doors, and something’s got to give...
City are looking for a 22nd successive win while United, coincidentally, will be looking for a 22nd game unbeaten away from home.
The Manchester derby has become an incredibly tough result to call in recent times with home advantage counting for very little.
And the fact that this meeting of the Blues and Reds will be played in an empty stadium makes home advantage less relevant.
Plus, United are a little unpredictable on occasion and difficult to second-guess.
On their day, they can be a devastating attacking force who have the ability to beat most teams, but while their form at Old Trafford has been patchy, on the road they have excelled.
However, they are facing a City team who are rewriting the history books and playing scintillating football and the chance to move even further clear of our cross-city neighbours is all the incentive our players need.
It should be a cracking game.
On to this edition of our digital programme and included – as always – are Pep’s manager notes, Buzzer’s column, a focus on our opponents’ season and the history of Manchester derby.
We also have some fantastic images from Kevin Cummins and the rare sight of Sir Bobby Charlton in a City shirt!
Marc Riley interviews Emmerdale’s Jeff Hordley – AKA Cain Dingle – and Clive Wilson, a much-loved and talented former City star from the 1980s, shares his Dream XI.
As always, plenty to go at ahead of the game!
The manager's pre-game thoughts...
Hello and a warm welcome to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his Manchester United staff.
Derby days all over the world are always special and though this one will be again sadly played without fans in the stadium, Sunday’s match will be no different.
It is our third meeting with United since the middle of December and they have been among our closest pursuers in the Premier League for a long time.
They have struggled to score in recent games, something we encountered at the start of the season, but we know they have quality in that department and are a very dangerous team. It is a long time since they lost away from home and they are an opponent with a lot of pace. They can hurt you in many ways.
We managed to extend our own run of wins to 21 in midweek when we got the better of Wolverhampton Wanderers 4-1 in what was a very good performance.
For all but 10 minutes of that game we played so well. We controlled to pace, chose our passes perfectly and took the chances when they came. I was delighted with the way we played and controlled the contest against a side that has traditionally caused us problems and can be so complicated to play against.
We created incredible chances before they made it 1-1. That equaliser was a good lesson for the future because opponents at a high level, do not need many chances to punish you. To finish the match the way we did made it a good night for us.
I said after the previous home game against West Ham United that when you win so many matches in a row, you do not always win 5-0 and not everything is going to be perfect. Every team creates a lot of problems and in different ways.
I did not expect to be in this super strong position in the league three months ago. All we must do now is stay calm and keep doing well the things that got us into this situation in the first place. All the players have contributed fully and have such an important bond. They all know they will get to play and are so supportive of one another.
Since the Wolves game we have tried to get some physical and mental rest into the squad. We have not spent our time studying other results, looking at league tables or records just preparing as well as possible in this extraordinary season, to play one of our big rivals.
There is great history in this fixture, and we all know and understand well the significance to the supporters of winning this game. So do United. We are determined to make another big step towards the objective of taking Liverpool’s crown off them and winning the league for the third time in four years.
Enjoy the game everyone and stay safe.
Our Club Ambassador's column..
How sad that I have to begin another programme column offering mine and the Club’s condolences to a very dear friend of mine, Ian St John.
Ian was a fantastic player and I had some great times with him and Jimmy Tarbuck and he was also a very nice man and a good friend.
Anyone who appreciates quality and what Ian brought to the game will be feeling equally sad just now.
On to the Manchester derby and yet another difficult game.
The derby is always a hard match and United will be desperate to end our winning run, but they are up against an exceptional team.
West Ham and Wolves caused some problems in the last two home games, but we overcame them both to take three points on each occasion.
I thought our defence was superb handling the threat Wolves posed on the counter-attack and I’d like to give a special mention to Kyle Walker, who I think has been excellent all season.
Wolves had plenty of pace, but we dealt with it comfortably and Walker was outstanding.
He adapts positionally to whatever is asked of him – be that central defence when needed, midfield moving inside or right wing.
And when he shifts up a gear, his speed is phenomenal.
All our players have been absolutely fantastic in very difficult circumstances because they are entertainers and they have had no fans to give them the adulation they richly deserve.
I just can’t wait for our fans to come back and be able to show their appreciation.
I never thought I’d miss taking two hours to get home after a match, but I do – I am home in 15 minutes now so there are no excuses if I take any longer!
Take care and stay safe.
THE SEASON SO FAR
Much like City, United's European exploits meant a later start the campaign, but few would have predicted an opening day 3-1 home defeat to Crystal Palace.
The Reds needed an instant response, and they got it in the form of a 3-0 Carabao Cup win away to Luton.
The next game saw United beat Brighton 3-2, with a controversial VAR decision after the final whistle had blown and Bruno Fernandes converted the winning penalty.
To add insult to injury, United returned a few days later to beat Brighton 3-0 in the Carabao Cup.
All that good work was once again undone at Old Trafford, where Tottenham produced a devastating attacking display - amid some poor defending from the hosts - to win 6-1.
It was a scoreline that sent shockwaves through the Premier League, but the Reds responded well again, winning their next game 4-1 away to Newcastle United and following that by an even more impressive 2-1 win away to Paris St Germain.
A 0-0 draw with Chelsea and a 5-0 UCL win over RB Leipzig completed October, but November would again see United's unpredictability raise its head again.
A 1-0 home loss to Arsenal, was followed by a 2-1 defeat to Istanbul in the Champions League.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men again had to rely on their Premier League away form to rally, winning 3-1 at Everton and then beat West Brom 1-0 at Old Trafford to record a first league home win of the season.
Victories over Istanbul (home) and Southampton (away) ended the month on a high.
December, as much as any month, posed the question: Which United side will turn up?
A 3-1 home defeat to PSG was followed by a 3-1 away win at West Ham. Then a 3-2 loss at RB Leipzig - meaning an early Champions League exit - was followed by a dull 0-0 home draw with City.
But a 3-2 win at Sheffield United, a 6-2 victory over Leeds United at Old Trafford and a 2-0 Carabao Cup win against Everton ensured United supporters had a reasonably happy Christmas.
With a 2-2 draw away to Leicester and 1-0 home win over Wolves, United ended 2020 in second place, just two points off leaders Liverpool.
And they started 2021 joint-top after beating Aston Villa 2-1, before City produced a fine display to end the Reds' Carabao Cup hopes, winning the one-legged semi-final 2-0 at Old Trafford.
Watford were narrowly beaten 1-0 in the FA Cup and then Paul Pogba's 71st-minute strike earned another 1-0 win at Burnley to put them three points clear at the top.
Next, a 0-0 draw away to Liverpool looked a decent result on paper, as did a 2-1 win at Fulham.
United then saw off Liverpool in the FA Cup (3-2) before one of the shocks of the season, as basement club Sheffield United left Old Trafford with a 2-1 victory.
United ground out a 0-0 draw at Arsenal to end a month of ups and downs.
February couldn't have started much better with a record-equalling 9-0 home win over Southampton, but Everton's last-gasp leveller in the next home game saw two more vital points dropped in a 3-3 draw.
The Reds would remain unbeaten through the month, beating West Ham in the FA Cup, drawing 1-1 with West Brom and recorded wins over Real Sociedad and Newcastle.
However, they arrive at the Etihad on the back of three successive 0-0 draws against Sociedad, Chelsea, and Crystal Palace.
Unbeaten in 21 away games, United's habit of dropping points against struggling sides sees them start the day 14 points behind City.
CITY V UNITED:
Though the Manchester derby had been going since 1891, it wasn’t until 1903 that the clubs met as Manchester City and Manchester United...
Prior to that, Ardwick FC and Newton Heath had battled each other until City became the first club named after Manchester in 1894, some nine years before United also adopted the city name into their identity.
That first City v United clash ended 1-1 with the Reds winning the return 2-0.
Three years later, the first top flight meeting ended 3-0 to City at Hyde Road, with United then going unbeaten in nine, winning four and drawing five up to 1912.
The first Maine Road derby ended 1-1 in 1925, but City’s 6-1 win at Old Trafford in the return would be the record score in this fixture until it was equalled - by City -some 86 years later.
Between 1947 and 1952 – after World War Two – the Reds went unbeaten in eight games, winning three and drawing five which meant the Blues hadn’t won this fixture for 15 years – though the War ate up several of those years.
That would begin City’s best set of results in the Manchester derby between 1952 and 1955, with six wins and three draws in a nine-game unbeaten run.
Then the pendulum swung back across the city! United won six and drew two and with only a 3-0 success in 1959, City had enjoyed one success in seven years with the Reds losing just one of 14 meetings.
But happier times lay ahead.
Between 1967 and 1974, the Manchester derby largely belonged to City, with just two defeats in the 16 Manchester derbies during that period.
From the 1980s through to 2000, United enjoyed more success, though there was the odd high point such as City’s 5-1 win at Maine Road in 1989.
The last Maine Road derby in 2002 went City’s way, as did the first City of Manchester derby, with Kevin Keegan’s side winning 4-1 in 2004.
And in 2008, the Blues ended a 34-year wait for a win at Old Trafford, recording a 2-0 victory to end one of our longest winless runs at an away ground.
Notable highs since include our 1-0 FA Cup semi-final win in 2011, the record-equalling 6-1 win at Old Trafford during the 2011/12 title-winning campaign and the 1-0 return victory at the Etihad later that season.
And since 2010, predicting the outcome of this 130-year fixture has become almost impossible.
In the 31 meetings during the past 11 years, City have won 14 to United’s 13 with just four draws and plenty of goals!
Form book, windows etc…
KEVIN CUMMINS COLUMN
Celebrated rock photographer Kevin Cummins recalls a derby with a difference...
Bobby Charlton and Pat Crerand - two of the most famously diehard United players ever - wearing City kit? Well, yes. It’s the stuff dreams - or nightmares - are made of, depending on who you support!
It was 11 September 1979 on the occasion of Colin Bell’s Testimonial. The main game was a combined City/United side versus a combined Merseyside team, which naturally, Manchester won 2-1, with the winner from a young Kirkby-born City star, Tommy Caton. Tommy is next to Michael Robinson in the team photo. But who’s that by Robbo’s shoulder, resplendent in the famous sky blue (yes, I know the photo is black and white), but United’s Lou Macari.
I’d been commissioned to take some photos for the match programme, but I didn’t really know how to photograph football. My game was music. To give this some context, three weeks earlier, on 19 August, I was photographing a young local band, Joy Division, in TJ Davidson’s rehearsal rooms off Deansgate.
I never really knew what to do with footballers, I’d just turn up and wing it. I felt much happier hanging around with musicians all day. Their, erm, lifestyle was more in tune with mine. I got a nice shot of Colin on the pitch, applauding the fans, then I took a few desultory action shots during the first half and went back to the halfway line, with the idea of getting a shot as they walked off at half time, when I heard a bit of commotion around the tunnel.
Three Reds: Charton, Crerand, Sadler, alongside our very own Franny and Buzzer, were lined up ready to go out for a penalty shoot-out competition at the half-time break. I rarely shot colour, but I felt this was the perfect opportunity to do so. It’s fair to say the lads looked like they hadn’t been on a strict training regime since they’d retired, but it’s a historic shot, nonetheless.
I’m not sure Sir Bob suited the sky blue though - and would he have been able to break into our triumvirate of Bell, Lee, Summerbee? Let’s be diplomatic and just say we’ll never know...
Premier League Stats
Position: Attacking midfielder
Squad number: 18
Hit woodwork: 6
Headed goals: 1
Right-foot goals: 21
Left-foot goals: 1
Penalties scored: 11
Free-kicks scored: 1
On target: 54
Shooting accuracy: 42%
Yellow cards: 7
Red cards: 0
Clubs: Novara, Udinese, Sampdoria, Sporting Lisbon, Manchester United
International caps (Portugal): 25
International goals: 2
Club career appearances (all comps): 352
Club career goals (all comps): 118
Crossing the city to play for your rivals is a path less travelled for most players...
The passion runs deep and to wear the colours of the team your fans dislike the most is a risky move, but occasionally, it works out quite well.
Once the supporters see commitment and passion, gradually, there is a general acceptance and on some occasions, genuine affection.
There have been 44 players ‘professionally contracted’ to both City and United, though the majority were more than 100 years ago!
In the past 20 years, there have been just nine players who have switched blue for red or vice-versa.
Here are a selection of some of the more high profile defections…
Shaun Goater was famously recruited by United after the Reds toured Bermuda and he moved to Old Trafford where he stayed for a short time before joining Rotherham United in 1989.
The Goat never played for the United first team and, in 1998 signed for City, becoming a Club legend over the next five years.
Terry Cooke never quite made it with United, either.
He played just four senior games before being loaned out to several clubs, including City in 1999.
The on-loan winger proved a popular signing and his contribution to the 1998/99 promotion campaign was sizeable and led to a permanent transfer to the Blues, though he was again loaned out thereafter during his three-year stay.
Looking back to one of the most high profile switches, Denis Law had first made his name with City after joining from Huddersfield Town.
After just over a season at Maine Road, during which he scored 25 goals in 50 matches, Law moved for big money to Torino before moving to Old Trafford a year later where he would become a club icon.
After a decade with the Reds, Law returned to City on a free transfer in 1973 and it was his back-heel goal that rubberstamped United’s relegation in 1974.
Many City fans couldn’t see Peter Schmeichel ever crossing the city to wear sky blue, but in 2002, it actually happened.
The Danish keeper played just shy of 400 games for an all-conquering United side, but Kevin Keegan wanted an experienced head to guide his exciting side to safe waters on the return to the Premier League and when he became aware of Schmeichel’s availability, he snapped him up on a free.
He was never going to be adored by City fans – there was too much history – but he played his part in the 2002/03 campaign and watching him celebrate the goals in the final Maine Road derby win over United was an odd experience for all concerned!
He played 31 times and, for a 39 year-old, was a wise signing by Keegan, though the association lasted just one season.
If watching Schmeichel play for City was odd for United fans, then the same could be said of Peter Barnes wearing the Reds shirt!
Youth team graduate Barnes burst into the City side as a talented teenager and went to play 161 times before being sold by Malcolm Allison in 1979.
Barnes then had something of a nomadic career, ending up at Old Trafford in 1985 for a two-year stint and making 27 appearances.
He briefly returned to Maine Road in 1987 and played a handful of games before continuing a career that included some 19 different moves.
John Gidman was a swashbuckling full-back who played for both Manchester sides.
After making his name with Aston Villa and Everton, Gidman arrived at Old Trafford in 1981 and stayed there for five years.
He was 32 when he was signed by Jimmy Frizzell on a free transfer but proved a popular signing and a shrewd piece of business by the-then City boss.
He made 71 appearances over two years and scored one goal before joining Stoke.
Superstar of the 1900s Billy Meredith was a Manchester City idol and stayed for a decade at Hyde Road before being accused of match-fixing and then being suspended by City.
United couldn’t believe their luck, and they snapped up Meredith who protested his innocence and was angered by City’s decision.
He would stay with the Reds for 15 years, before returning to City aged 47 for the final couple of years of his career.
Brian Kidd’s career as player and coach has largely been split between City and United – a total of 33-years.
It was at Old Trafford that he first emerged a teenager and scored in the 1968 European Cup final win over Benfica on his 19th birthday.
He stayed with the Reds for seven years and after a spell with Arsenal signed for City in 1976, enjoying three excellent seasons at Maine Road.
He returned to United to coach the youth team in 1988, eventually being promoted to Sir Alex Ferguson’s No.2 and remaining there until 1998.
Over the next decade he had several jobs, including an assistant manager role with England, before returning to City in 2009 where he has been part of the coaching staff ever since.
Andrew Cole, like Peter Schmeichel, seemed an unlikely Manchester City player.
The prolific striker scored 121 goals during eight years with the Reds and following spells with Blackburn and Fulham, he was signed on a free transfer by Stuart Pearce and spent one season with the Blues, scoring 10 goals in 23 matches.
Finally, perhaps the most controversial cross-city switch of them all – Carlos Tevez.
Tevez had enjoyed two very successful years with United which were spent on loan from West Ham.
After a complicated negotiation, it is believed Tevez was unhappy that the Reds had not made his switch permanent and then informed the club he no longer wished to play for them.
It was perfect timing for City, with long-time admirer Mark Hughes making Tevez his No.1 target and the Argentine was welcomed with open arms by the Blues.
His reported £47m move was a British transfer record and Tevez would play a huge part in bringing silverware back to the Etihad.
His arrival was announced by a series of provocative ‘Welcome to Manchester’ posters and in his four years with the Club, he scored 94 goals and helped win the Premier League and FA Cup.
He is one of the most popular ex-Reds to play for the Club.
Here’s to bright blue skies…
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Your wellness, our priority
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With a team of Wellness Ambassadors on hand 24/7, you’ll feel comfortable and cared for when you fly with us.
We’ve introduced additional deep cleaning measures that focus on the surfaces that are touched most often. That includes our check-in counters, toilets, seats and entertainment screens, so you can feel comfortable knowing that we disinfect every touchpoint of your journey more regularly.
All of our aircraft are deep cleaned at every destination, and our HEPA filters on board remove 99% of microbes in the air – because cleaner air means cleaner cabins.
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Our mascot for today...
Name: Rosie Jackson
Fave player: Aguero
Rosie's story: I started playing football when I was 18 months old, I like going to Jill Scott’s Soccer School and I have been supporting City for seven years.
I also like going to watch the women’s team with my auntie.
My favourite player is Sergio Aguero from the men’s team and Janine Beckie from the women’s team.
My favourite City game was when we beat Liverpool at Anfield and my best memory was when I had my photo taken on the pitch with the players thanks to Etihad Airways.
Clive Wilson was a classy left-back or midfield play-maker who played for City in the late 70s/early 1980s.
A silky touch and great vision, the Moss Side born youth team product was hugely popular among City supporters before he was transferred to Chelsea to raise funds for Paul Stewart's signing.
He played more than 100 times for City after nearly 10 years with the Club - here he picks his all-time City XI...
MARC'S NEW Q&A SERIES FOR BLUES FROM ALL WALKS OF LIFE - NEXT UP, EMMERDALE STAR JEFF HORDLEY..
The next poor soul to be subjected to a Man City grilling by yours truly is Jeff Hordley...
Many of you will know Jeff as Cain Dingle - the troubled and some would say troublesome character from Emmerdale…but I also know Jeff as a fellow semi-professional footballer.
When I say ‘semi-professional’ by that I mean we were both lucky enough to pull on some boots and play a match together (not on the same team) on the hallowed turf of Maine Road. We were both invited by the City legend Peter Barnes to take part in a City Vets v Celebs charity match. Not really fitting into either of those two categories, I couldn't help but wonder why I was there…but there I was!
Legends of Turf, Screen and Stage…..and me.
I can just see it now. Ian Bishop sat with his grandchildren who are gazing at him in a mixture of wonderment and disbelief…
”Grandad…did you really play alongside Marc Riley back in the day…” and I’m sure the exact same scenario will play out between David White and Jeff.
This is how Jeff describes himself…though I still think ‘semi-professional footballer’ does that job personally.
In a nutshell….
“Brought up in Oldham and first started going to Maine Road at 7 year-old in 1977. Spent a long time masquerading as a Yorkshireman when I’m a Mancunian whose family hail from Blackley. Outside of work my big passions are Man City, music and the totally Roll & Roll pastime of growing vegetables.”
OK…over to you Jeff!
1: What is your earliest memory of going to a football match?
This memory only came to me recently. Upon the sad news of Colin Bell's passing I began reading up on his career. I never knew of his knee injury against United in 1975 which kept him out for two years. Then, I read of his standing ovation return on Boxing Day against Newcastle United in 1977. I then had a real light bulb memory recall moment. I was at that match! I remember my Uncle Neil ( who took me to the games) telling me to stand up and clap as everyone around me was doing the same. He told me then that the player coming on was Colin Bell a City legend and brilliant player, one of City’s best. That therefore is an early City memory of mine.
2: What is the most peculiar thing that has ever happened to you at a match?
Peculiar thing? Being asked to do the half time draw at Maine Road in 2001/02 season. Just standing in the tunnel waiting to go on the pitch was a totally surreal experience.
3: If you could go back in time and prevent one match from being played what match would that be - and why?
Prevent a match - City v Spurs Champions League quarter final a few seasons ago. The Sterling goal that was disallowed (sending my heart into my mouth) but most importantly the Spurs Llorente goal that WAS allowed, even though the replay showed it clearly touched his arm first. I’d rather that game be played with different match officials!
4: Which team are you least opponents - and why?
Spurs again. As a young City fan watching Spurs beat us in the 1981 FA Cup final replay with that Ricky Villa goal. But far worse was having to re-live and be reminded of it every FA Cup final day since, when they always stick it in the opening credits or show a clip of previous goals on the programme.... hell!!
5: Which is your most favourite Man City song or chant??
Favourite song? The ‘ do do do Pablo Zabaleta ‘ just for its joy and always bringing a smile to my face, plus Zaba is a big fan favourite.
6: What is the most memorable goal you have witnessed.
Memorable goal - Kompany scoring that 30-yard screamer against Leicester on the Monday night that secured us the title that season.
7: Have you ever met a Man City hero. If so - who…and how was the experience?
Once a season I’m lucky enough to be invited into Gary Owen's lounge on match day. On one particular game under Mancini’s reign Tommy Booth (who I still can’t believe knows my name) came over after the match and asked if I’d like to go to the chairman’s lounge. I happily obliged and to my astonishment saw Brian Kidd (who I absolutely loved as a young City fan) coming towards me. He leaned in and asked a question about Cain and Emmerdale. It blew my head off! Brian is a genuinely lovely man and he really made my day and year that afternoon.
8: If you could invite and Man City player - past or present - round to yours for tea and biscuits - who would you choose - and why?
David Silva just to pick his brains and make him a proper brew.
9: Have you ever shed a tear of pain - or joy - at a Man City match?
The Aguero moment springs to mind. However, that Spurs Champions League quarter final will forever emotionally scar me.
10: What do you miss most about Maine Road
’Helen the bell’ Turner
11: Who do you think would win in an Arm-wrestling match…Yaya Toure or Kyle Walker.
Ya Ya judging by the size of him.
12: If you could pick one current Man City player to be on your pub quiz team who would it be - and why?
Can I pick Pep as I think he’s got pretty good knowledge.
(Go on then…Pep it is!).
Big thanks to Jeff… and as always UP THE BLUES!