Six of Sir Alex's best Manchester derbies

Thursday 04 November 2021 16:00

Saturday's Manchester derby happens to fall on the very same day (6 November) that Sir Alex Ferguson was appointed United manager, way back in 1986.

His 26-year reign saw the Reds enjoy a two-decade-long wave of domination across English football – and local rivals Manchester City felt the brunt of that as much as anyone. As United swept to the title after title, the Blues oscillated between the divisions. And when they did meet the Reds, they were usually dispatched with ruthless efficiency.
There was the odd high moment for City – a 5-1 thrashing at Maine Road in 1989, and victory in the last-ever derby at Maine Road in 2002 – but it wasn't until 2008, the year of the Abu Dhabi-led takeover, that the Blues truly began to challenge. They gave Ferguson some problems in his final few years at Old Trafford, but the legendary gaffer still managed to go out on top when retiring in 2013, by finishing 11 points clear of City and reclaiming the Premier League crown.
In his 26 years at the club, Sir Alex built up an impressive portfolio of wins against our neighbours – not unlike Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who has already got the better of Pep Guardiola four times.

Here are six of SAF's best and most memorable derby matches – do you agree or disagree with our selection?

Early team news for the derby


The latest from both camps as we get set for Manchester City's visit to Old Trafford on Saturday.

CITY 3 UNITED 3 (1990/91, D1)
Ten minutes to go. Maine Road. Only a year after suffering a 5-1 humiliation at the hands of Manchester City, the Reds are moments away from another humbling. The score is 3-1 and United are floundering. But there's a twist in the tail, as Brian McClair scores twice in the final stages to earn a delicious and unlikely draw. United fans later cooked up a chant to remind the Blues of their slip-up. "Blue Moon, you started singing too soon, you thought'd you beat us 3-1, now Howard Kendall has gone." The then City manager Kendall returned to his former club Everton just weeks after this match, and City would not win another Manchester derby for 12 years.
CITY 2 UNITED 3 (1993/94, PL)
They did come fairly close on one or two occasions though. The Blues were two up at half-time in this Maine Road clash in November 1993, and sensed some vulnerability in champions United – who had just exited the Champions League at the hands of Galatasaray a few days beforehand. After a double from Niall Quinn, the City fans were chucking bars of Turkish Delight into the away end, but the Reds swarmed back in the second period with dramatic goals from Cantona (2) and new signing Roy Keane. 'City is our name, City is our name, two-nil up and [expletive] it up, City is our name," chorused the jubilant United fans.
UNITED 5 CITY 0 (1994/95, PL)
Despite United's success in the early 1990s (successive titles, two FA Cups, a European Cup Winners' Cup), City still had that painful 5-1 at Maine Road to cling onto. But direct revenge would be sweet for Alex Ferguson when it eventually arrived. Five years on from possibly his darkest moment as Reds boss, an Andrei Kanchelskis hat-trick powered us to a cathartic 5-0 hammering of the Blues. Cantona was again at his imperious best, scoring a gorgeous opener and then producing his own hat-trick of assists.
Classic Match: United 4 Man City 3 Video

Classic Match: United 4 Man City 3

Michael Owen scored a famous winner against City in 2009, much to Blues' boss Mark Hughes's dismay...

UNITED 4 CITY 3 (2009/10, PL)
City headed into their first full season following the Abu Dhabi takeover with a much-improved squad and a whole host of new star names. Former United striker Carlos Tevez was among them, but the Argentinian and all his new team-mates were left shattered after arguably the greatest Manchester derby in modern history. United thought they had the game won at 2-1 and 3-2, thanks to two Darren Fletcher headers, but a Rio Ferdinand mistake allowed Craig Bellamy in for an unlikely equaliser just before the end. Or, at least, what seemed to be the end. In the final throes of six added minutes, Michael Owen was fed by Ryan Giggs's pass and finished unerringly, sparking scenes of absolute delirium both in the stands and in the United dugout. Even Gary Neville, on the touchline ostensibly to warm up, temporarily broke away from his star jumps to go completely berserk.
When United beat City in the League Cup semi Video

When United beat City in the League Cup semi

Our forthcoming Carabao Cup clash conjures memories of this majestic last-four derby win in 2010...

UNITED 3 CITY 1 (2009/10, LC)
The Blues undoubtedly improved in the first years after their high-profile takeover, and were on the brink of a first major cup final since 1981 when the two teams were pitted against each other in the 2010 League Cup semi-final. Roberto Mancini's team carried a 2-1 lead from the first leg at the Etihad but, at Old Trafford, second-half goals from Paul Scholes and Michael Carrick swung the advantage back towards United. A Tevez goal in the final 15 minutes threatened to take the tie to extra-time, but in added time, Wayne Rooney headed home to earn the Reds a place at Wembley. It was the Reds' second injury-time winner against the Blues in the 2009/10 season, and Ferguson's men weren't done there. In the return league derby at the Etihad in April, Paul Scholes made it a hat-trick of glorious late winners across the campaign.
Classic Match: City 2 United 3 Video

Classic Match: City 2 United 3

On this day in 2012, Robin van Persie's free-kick concluded a memorable 3-2 win at the Etihad Stadium...

CITY 2 UNITED 3 (2012/13, PL)
Mancini's men had claimed City's first title in 44 years the preceding season, so all eyes were on the first Manchester derby of the following campaign. United had pipped the Blues to the signing of Robin van Persie during the summer, but it was a double from Wayne Rooney that gave the Reds a deserved two-goal first-half lead. City fought back well after the interval, and drew level with just a few minutes to go through Pablo Zabaleta. At that point, the hosts looked the clear favourites to go and snatch all three points, but United remained the kings of the late, dramatic intervention. With just seconds left, new boy van Persie swung in a wicked free-kick from the right-hand side. The ball took a slight nick off the wall and slid past Joe Hart in the City goal, and set the tone for the remainder of the season. United went six points clear, van Persie carried on scoring, and United seized the title back with ease in Ferguson's final campaign.