Rivalries are part of the fabric of football. Manchester City, I feel perhaps don’t have the strength of rivalries of some other teams.
They spent a long part of their recent history, until the takeover, bumbling around towards the mid and bottom of the Premier League table, occasionally slipping into the relegation zones.
Obviously that has changed now, with them now one of the best teams in Europe, however, they found themselves popular with huge numbers of fans for being the team that stopped Liverpool winning the league.
I’ve heard several other neutrals say they, if nothing else, enjoy watching City under Guardiola play. It’s just such nice football to watch!
However, of course, Man City is not without its rivals.
The most obvious is, of course, Manchester United. Once dismissed as Noisy Neighbours when United was at their peak under Ferguson. Obviously geographically United are the nearest rivals, and this was more the case when City was based at Maine Road. Even with a couple of extra miles between grounds, the rivalry remains strong. The Manchester Derby remains one of the most iconic and anticipated fixtures of each season and has seen some incredible games over the years.
However, according to a recent article by Rob Swan on Give Me Sport, Manchester City’s fiercest rivals were Liverpool. While last season, where the two went toe to toe for the title all season I would definitely agree. I think the history between the two sides of Manchester makes this a far greater rivalry.
The main rivals
The other main rivalries listed according to this poll listed Tottenham, Chelsea and Arsenal, which I can only assume has been due to being at a level where these teams have been the competition for Champions League places and cup wins.
I think for a team like City, what is most interesting is the evolution of these rivalries. I wonder what the profile of this would have been just before the takeover. I’m sure Manchester United would have been right up there as a rival. However, I remember seeing Everton as a team City always struggled against. This I felt came back to haunt me when sat on the front row of the Family Stand at the early part of the 17/18 seasons at the Etihad when Wayne Rooney thumped a first-half goal for the Toffees.
I also remember feeling the rivalry to other more local teams who have drifted out of top-flight football, such as Wigan and Bolton. Due in equal parts to their location close to City and their playing at a similar level to City at the time.
So perhaps, with Liverpool holding the biggest chance to scuppering Man City’s title hopes, it is perhaps no surprise that they have inched ahead of United in a fan polled survey. However, for this City fan, it will always be United who I see as the biggest rivals.