Manchester might be a smaller city than London, but in terms of sporting achievements, it is right up there with the capital.
As demonstrated in their recent win over their city rivals, Manchester City are the dominant force in the Premier League, but over at Old Trafford, they’re hoping to challenge that position.
It’s been a tough start to the domestic season for Jose Mourinho, but if the Champions League win against Juventus doesn’t kickstart their season, surely nothing will.
There was an element of surprise around the 2-1 victory in Turin at the start of November – the Red Devils weren’t expected to come away with anything at all. Juventus, featuring one of Manchester’s former heroes Cristiano Ronaldo, are one of the dominant forces in European football once more.
They brushed aside Mourinho’s side in the first fixture between the two, but the glory days of Sir Alex Ferguson were back, albeit for one night, as United performed a smash and grab in Italy.
The result left them second in Group H with a superb chance of qualifying for the knock-out stages, something that is considered to be a prerequisite at England’s biggest clubs these days. There aren’t enough Champions League places to go around everyone, but Manchester United now look likely to feature in the knock-out stages at the very least.
The win came despite Paul Pogba, a player who arrived from Juventus but who wasn’t effective at all. Instead, the likes of Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard emerged as key players. Mata fired in the 86th-minute free-kick which set up the tense finale.
The win saw United move to 28/1 to lift the trophy in the latest sports betting, still a huge price for a side once considered amongst the world’s greatest. The turmoil around the club has not helped their stability, with question marks over controversial manager Mourinho and his relationship with the board.
There’s some sympathy for him from within his own fan base – his desire to spend in the summer was stifled by a reluctance on the board’s behalf and he’s had to watch the so-called noisy neighbours become the benchmark, not just in Manchester but across the whole country.Whilst the rivalry between the two is intense, it is the passionate hatred between United and Liverpool that will fuel their desire to kick on the most. There’s no love lost between Mourinho and the Reds of Anfield. He clashed with them at Chelsea and that has carried on at Old Trafford.
Their own Champions League struggles against Red Star Belgrade will have delighted United fans, even if it was just a small victory in an ongoing war that Jurgen Klopp’s men seem to be winning.
With the little battles being fought inside the club and out, Mourinho is a man under pressure from above, from the media and, of course, from other managers. Whilst he still has the support of the fans, he has some leverage and wins against sides like Juventus only reignite hope that their time might be coming around again.
If it is, Manchester as a city will only stand to benefit even further.