It is absolutely beyond dispute that Manchester United took over too slowly the scale of what happened 6.5 kilometers through the city. As Manchester City grew exponentially, United entered the water.
Standing still means going backwards and now, ten years later, the landscape in this city looks very different – and not just because of skyscrapers dominating the skyline.
Gary Neville has consistently referred to the gap between the two, a product of Sir Alex Ferguson’s general inactivity of United in recent years as a manager, coupled with City’s renewed wealth and push for infrastructure growth.
Manchester City is a dominant force in English football, leaving rivals United behind
United have struggled to maintain the regular top-four finishes since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement
Pep Guardiola (L) and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer battle different battles along the sidelines
In the end, relative performance on the pitch sets the mood for clubs, with City picking up four of the last eight Premier League titles and United picking up just one, in Ferguson’s last season. Broader questions and criticisms surrounding the latter are therefore understandably raised.
Recruitment is an area in which United, which has halted the search for their equivalent of City sports director Txiki Begiristain, has sought to improve.
Recent recordings, notably the famous 17-year-old Hannibal Mejbri from Monaco last summer, suggest that the restructuring of that department is paying off. A focus on stronger ties between the academy and the first team should only serve as helpful.
While always offset by the long-running record of academy players in first-team squads, their youth lineup struggled and remained in a state of slight realignment. In 2016 there was a lot of furore then Sports email revealed that Wayne’s son Kai Rooney trained with City – primarily for state-of-the-art facilities.
That seemed indicative of the widening gap. United is assessing Carrington and has been considering expansion for some time.
“City’s recruitment drive for the best young talent is the talk of football and they are clearly trying to tie up the North West region,” Jamie Redknapp wrote in his Sports email column.
Sporting director of the city of Txiki Begiristain (R) has led the club’s impressive recruitment work
City searches the market for the hottest young talent and has an impressive academy
United’s famous youth lineup was struggling and is in a state of minor realignment
“I recently watched my youngest son Beau who played for Chelsea against Manchester City Under 8s. The standard was incredible, but what also stood out was the number of Scouse accents among the parents on the sidelines. City’s message is clear: we want the best for every age group. “
Phil Neville’s son Harvey was also on the blue side until he moved to Valencia. Neville Jnr is now with United, along with Charlie Wellens, the son of another former graduate, Richie.
City will claim to remain at the forefront of youth circles, noting the staggering money made from player trafficking across the continent. They have plenty of products that perform at a high level in some of the top European leagues, although it is challenging to combine that with progressive Phil Foden, Taylor Harwood-Bellis and a range of exceptionally talented youngsters in the Under 18s.
United points to the success of Marcus Rashford’s first team, Scott McTominay, Brandon Williams and Mason Greenwood. Maybe they will now look at producing more to resell, so is the market. There are high hopes for Joe Hugill, drawn from Sunderland.
Neville’s final comments are about Old Trafford, how the ancient amphitheater looks tired. “The stadium is starting to look old and it needs to be invested,” said Marcel, owner of Hotel Football next to Old Trafford.
Gary Neville recently claimed that United should seriously invest in Old Trafford
He called for the area around the stadium to be transformed to give fans a United experience
“In the area, there is a huge opportunity to create a Man United experience, something that can not only affect Manchester – their reach is global.
“Old Trafford is a special place, it could be so much more special. If you take advantage of what City has done there with a much lesser name and a much more difficult hand to play. The opportunities for United are great, but they must have a strategy and ambition to realize what it can be.
“The city owners have a vision of what they want for their football club and their football product, while United seems more insular at the moment. They must influence education and the community, there must be entertainment for the public, it must be a real experience of Manchester United at that stadium. ‘
United is working on improvements and is spending £ 20 million on the ground this year, including the £ 11 million upgrade for disabled facilities. Six hospitality lounges are getting a £ 4 million facelift to compete with other areas in the North West, so potential customers don’t go elsewhere, with revenue in that area being a major factor in the freezing season ticket prices. Substantial funding of £ 4 million has gone into improving security measures.
The city’s Etihad stadium is modern and they were lucky enough to get it after the Commonwealth Games
Fans are consistently consulted. They want the unreliable fixed Wi-Fi, which United has upgraded in some areas and plans to roll out in the coming months. Supporters also want areas where groups of friends who sit separately can gather around Old Trafford before matches. The tight legroom is a point of contention.
A fan zone was tested for the 2-0 win over City in March, including a Legends Q&A, a live band and Justin Moorhouse stand-up. That’s the kind of initiative that suits people like City, Liverpool and Everton. There is the vocal part, the trial with seating on the track.
“We’re looking at an investment plan that retains what makes Old Trafford special,” said Ed Woodward earlier in the season.
“Part of the allure is that it is a stadium built in 1910. If you change the total, you can change the feeling of it. Our vision for this is that we do not want to radically change that look and feel of the stadium.
But the work around the stadium on the Etihad Campus makes it attractive for book signings
“If you have Old Trafford and you regenerate, rejuvenate and keep it modern, but it feels like it’s Old Trafford, that’s the perfect solution for us.”
Future expansion cannot be ruled out by vestments loaded with difficulties. Building on the oldest stand, named after Sir Bobby Charlton, requires construction over a railroad and it is suggested that the club should move temporarily.
City were lucky in their deal to take over Eastlands after the 2002 Commonwealth Games, but the foundations for infrastructure over the past decade have put them in this enviable position.
The fundamentals are all sorted apart from tweaks here and there, and the focus is almost entirely on expanding the City Football Group and winning trophies. United strives to achieve that position.