Is the Manchester Derby as exciting as it could be?

derby-wembley

One of the most eagerly anticipated games of the Premier League season, for neutral and supporter alike, is the Manchester Derby. Always a passionate rivalry between Manchester’s two clubs; a rivalry that has intensified in recent years since Manchester City’s takeover, which has allowed them to compete with Manchester United, who for many years were streets ahead of City. However, for such a big rivalry between two of Britain’s top sides, the matches between the two sides have often not been the best games of football and looking back there have been few genuinely exciting games in recent years.

Of course, there was the 4-3 Manchester United victory in September 2009, which was seen by many people on both sides of the divide as a potential turning point for how the fixture is viewed. Yes, as usual, United had won, but City had shown a lot of fight and, apart from a last minute winner for United, came very close to matching their rivals. From a United point of view, Jordan Farren of UTD Report and Vavel, believes that the 2009/10 season was a fantastic advert for this fixture, as it brought this game, as well as an exciting two-legged League Cup semi final, in which City won the first leg, but United fought back to win the second, not to mention late drama in the fixture at the Etihad Stadium, when a last minute Paul Scholes goal stole the points for United. As a City fan, these games were, of course, painful; to see my side lose three times to our biggest rivals in late circumstances is never easy to watch. However, these games certainly showed that City could pose a credible threat to United.

city-flag

Despite this, since this season, the games have often lacked intensity. Of course, both sides have had games they’ve enjoyed. Manchester City fans fondly remember comprehensive beatings of United in recent years, such as the 1-6 win at Old Trafford in October 2011 and the 4-1 home win in September 2013, whilst United fans will fondly remember the 4-2 home win in 2015, in which they completely outclassed City, not to mention Marcus Rashford’s Manchester Derby debut, in which he outplayed veteran Martin Demichelis to earn United a win at the Etihad Stadium. However, none of these games were genuinely hard fought games of football with both teams giving the other something to worry about, these were often comprehensive beatings, which, whilst thoroughly enjoyable for the fans, weren’t especially exciting for neutrals. Whilst there have been a handful of exiciting games – United’s 3-2 win at the Etihad in December 2012 sticking out as an outstanding game of football – the fixture doesn’t always generate great games of football; something both the North London Derby and the Merseyside Derby has done on numerous occasions.

utd-fans

So what for the future? The appointment of Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho, two managers with a successful past and an intense rivalry to boot, has the potential to give this fixture a new lease of life. Certainly, September’s fixture, in which City narrowly won 2-1, was a significantly more interesting game to watch than either of the previous season’s games. However, both managers also have a reputation for leaving clubs after not many years have passed. In addition to this, the fixture could also struggle to improve as the rivalry between the fans has one significant weakness: only one half of the city views it as the biggest game of the season. It is no secret that, whilst United fans have certainly taken more notice of City recently, that their biggest rivalry lies with Liverpool FC and that is the game that both they and the team turn up for most. Jordan Farren believes that, as a result of this, the game is highly unlikely to surpass El Classico in Spain or The Old Firm Derby in Scotland in terms of rivalry.

What do you think? Do you believe that this Derby has been less exciting in recent years than it should have been or do you think that this game is still one of the most exciting in the Premier League?

 

Follow me on Twitter – @joedoherty21

Follow Jordon on Twitter – @Lapxrte

Wolfe Tones visit Manchester

wolfe-tones

On 9th November 2016, Irish Folk legends The Wolfe Tones played a gig at St Kentigern’s Irish Social Club in Southern Manchester as they have been doing for the previous 12 years. However, this year’s performance was even more significant, as it was a part of the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising, in which Irish rebels seized the GPO and began to gain independence from Britain. This tour has gone all over the country, from Glasgow to Manchester, both cities with strong Irish communities, and even going out as far as Hamburg, where the band are popular, due to the friendship between FC St Pauli of Hamburg and The Wolfe Tones’ own club, Celtic FC.

There is no doubt some controversy over the sort of songs that The Wolfe Tones sing, as they are rebel songs that are linked with The Troubles in Northern Irish and are from a republican point of view, with songs such as “Go on home British Soldiers” and “Bloody Sunday” clearly being in favour of the IRA. However, Kevin Fitzpatrick, the proprietor of St Kentigern’s describes them in a more positive light and believes that their music “goes a long way in telling the story of Ireland, especially the Troubles”.

There is no doubt that previously, an Irish republican band wouldn’t have performed in Manchester without serious backlash, especially after the Arndale Centre was bombed in 1996 by the IRA. However, since the Good Friday Agreement, this sort of gig is less of a political statement these days and appears more of a social occasion. Certainly on the night, everyone was enjoying a drink and everybody there was very hospitable and friendly, not the hostile atmosphere you might expect at a gig that would’ve been making a political statement.

Fitzpatrick also believes that this sort of music is important in peace time between the UK and Ireland, as the reporting of the events comes from less of an angle these days and looks at The Troubles from both sides, especially after the Savile Inquiry, which shows how British Soldiers killed 14 unarmed protesters in Derry. “Investigations like Bloody Sunday are now closer to the truth so people understand the songs more as they do tell the story of our lives way back then – but people are so happy with the truth now and the peace – long may it continue,” being Fitzpatrick’s view.

Personally, despite the songs having connotations certain people might find offensive or unsavoury, I found the performance to be very good, especially when the age of the band members is taken into account, and the people at the gig to be very friendly and welcoming. In addition to this, I do not believe this is made for a political statement to extent it used to and is now just a chance for people to have an enjoyable social occasion.

This map shows whereabouts the Wolfe Tones have been on this tour:

Fundraising allows local park to be built

playequipcomboplastic_wb

A new playground has been given the go ahead to be built in the mixed urban and rural district of Stowshire, Bradfield.

Peter Smithson, chair of Landsmere Community Association, said “work started last week on the construction of the new playground.

“It is the culmination of six years’ fundraising and campaigning to see a derelict area reformed.” The whole scheme is costing £50,000 but the LCA have been given £10,000 by Bradfield Council and £15,000 by Bradfield Community Chest. The rest was raised by the LCA.

Mrs Sheree Harltley, CEO of the BCC, told the Bradfield Mirror “we were delighted to support the Landsmere play area scheme,” describing it as a “good cause”.

Numerous attempts have been made to improve the image of the much deprived Landsmere, so it is a point of much pride for locals that this scheme is going ahead.

Top 5 Telling Manchester City games so far this season

Source: upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/33/Escudo_do_Man_City.jpg

1.) Stoke City 1 Manchester City 4

After a nervy first game of the season against Sunderland, City needed to make a statement in their first away game of the season at Stoke, a ground where City have struggled. Indeed, last season, two Arnautovic goals fired Stoke to a 2-0 victory. However, City approached this game very differently and quickly lead 2-0 through two Sergio Aguero goals. Despite a Bojan penalty increasing pressure on City, two goals from Nolito rounded off a crucial win

 

2.) Manchester City 3 West Ham United 1

Following on from the Stoke away win, this home win against West Ham United was arguably a more impressive performance and set the tone for someone who has been the most improved City player from the previous season: Raheem Sterling. Much maligned after a poor 2015/16 and  Euro 2016; Raheem Sterling has come on well this season and this game was arguably his strongest. Two well taken goals by Sterling succumbed the Londoners to a comprehensive beating. Nigel Rothband of The Man City Show Podcast believes this is an example of the type of game that City play outstanding football in for periods, but need to show that sort of form for 90 minutes, as City allowed West Ham back into the game.

3.) Manchester United 1 Manchester City 2

Old rivals Pep Guardiola and his Manchester United counterpart Jose Mourinho met at Old Trafford in a game that is becoming one of the biggest on the world stage. Both sides had to make an impact going into this game, but it was City that impressed. An exceptional first 40 minutes saw City leading 2-0 through goals from Kevin De Bruyne and Kelechi Iheanacho, who was in for the suspended Sergio Aguero. Despite an iffy performance by Claudio Bravo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic pulling a goal back for United, City held on.

4.) West Bromwich Albion 0 Manchester City 4

City needed to make a statement away at the Hawthorns when they played West Bromwich Albion. After weeks of speculation in the media over the future of forward Sergio Aguero, he silenced all his critics by scoring two outstanding goals to put City 2-0 up. City continued to play strong attacking football and  two goals from German midfielder Ilkay Gundogan ended the poor run and set City up for their meeting with Barcelona.

5.) Manchester City 3 Barcelona 1

Simply put, this was one of the finest Manchester City performances in recent years. If critics doubted that beating West Brom could redeem Pep Guardiola and his side after a poor run, this game succeeded tenfold. Whilst the first half was somewhat closer, with Lionel Messi giving Barcelona the lead and Gundogan’s equaliser coming somewhat against the run of play, the second half proved just how good City could be. Following the break, City played with confidence and panache and, apart from a chance for Andre Gomes, which hit the bar, completely outclassed the Catalans. Kevin De Bruyne and Ilkay Gundogan wrapped up the points, but truthfully, the second half could have brought so many more goals for City. Nigel Rothband of The Man City Show Podcast described this game as showing Gundogan’s encouraging start to the season and that this could be a key signing, although more consistency could be required to make him the bargain of the season.

Nigel and others discuss the Barcelona game on The Man City Show Podcast

 

 

 

 

Super Hans comes to Manchester

super-hans-manc

2015 marked the final series of Channel 4’s cult classic Peep Show, which had been on the air since 2003. However, the show has not completely left the public domain, due to this year’s DJ tour by the show’s breakout character Super Hans, played brilliantly for 12 years by actor and comedian Matt King.

King, in character, has been doing a nationwide tour, which began at last summer’s Leeds Festival and continued into the Autumn, visiting a range of cities up and down the UK. Last night was the turn of Manchester.

Performing in Deansgate’s Gorilla, many people, both fans of the show and music fans alike, came to watch the set. Despite King being predominantly an actor and comedian, the set was well varied, including tracks from local band The Happy Mondays to Michael Jackson’s classic 80s track Thriller.

*Warning-The following video contains strong language

The show has been a huge success nationwide with fans of the show and it has been well received by fans who thought they’d seen the last of Peep Show.

Personally, I believe the tour to be both fresh and very well performed, with King giving a stellar performance and staying true to the character.