Scott the Red: Where do you think our rivalry with City ranks amongst that with Liverpool and Leeds?
Terry Christian: The rivalry with City has an altogether different dynamic to that of Liverpool or Leeds. It’s still based on the same thing, which basically boils down to sheer jealousy of Man United, but Liverpool had such a fantastic collection of trophies, as they liked to remind us, and yet somehow that glamour and fame and Je ne sais quoi that United had completely eluded them. They suffered from never having had three players in a team like Best, Law and Charlton and other than the Kenny Dalglish managed side that won the double, they never had an exciting all out attacking team to watch with real flair. As a neutral you’d have rather watched Tommy Docherty’s United in 75-77 than the Liverpool side of that era. The sheer gung ho nature of that Docherty side took your breath away in an era when the only other attacking teams in the top division were Man City, Ipswich Town and QPR. Liverpool fans are aware that we’ll always be more famous than them, always be the biggest news story and always have an unattainable glamour that goes beyond winning trophies, and now that we are winning trophies all the time it must kill them. When I was first going to matches in the late 60’s early 70’s , Everton seemed bigger rivals.
With Leeds , they are basically still annoyed about us beating them on goal difference to the Championship in 1965 with a better goal average, and to compound things they then lost the FA Cup final that year to Liverpool. They’ve always been incredibly bitter towards United and still smart over the fact that when they had a good side they didn’t win as much as they should have and had a reputation as being dirty and cheats. Just a small town mentality really, I’ve never really given them much thought, but enjoyed watching them lose various FA Cup and European finals in the 70’s. They’ve given me a lot of pleasure over the years.
Man City, probably a bit more of a rivalry in the late 60’s and throughout the 70’s. But again they spent three years in the 1960’s wallowing in Division 2 while we won two titles and when they did win the first division title in 1968, we were runners up by two points and actually scored more goals than City that year despite Denis Law missing a lot of the season injured. Then we eclipsed them by becoming the first English team to ever win the European Cup, George Best won Football Writers’ Player of the Year and also became European Footballer of the Year. City won the FA Cup the following year but were knocked out of the European Cup by Fenerbahce of Turkey – in the days when Turkish teams were of the standard of an 8-0 drubbing, and United were cheated out of another European final by a dodgy referee when we lost in the semi-final of the European Cup to AC Milan. All in all , they’ve never ever really measured up to United, certainly not in my life-time, frantically spending fortunes throughout the 70’s and early 80’s trying to be a big club, never really going to happen. Their fans define themselves more by hating United than by the football their own team play. A shame really. Their obsession with United cost them the league in 1971-72 season and this FA Cup semi may cost them that Champions League place this season whether they lose or win the weekend’s game.
STR: What’s your favourite ever derby day?
TC: There have been so many really, but I loved the one at Maine Road just after we’d been knocked out of Europe by Galatasaray on away goals, they were 2-0 up at half time and hadn’t been beaten at home that season. It’s the only time I’ve seen United two goals down and not felt worried as we’d been the better team really. There were about 10 of us in the City end trying to keep quiet but as Cantona scored two and we equalised we just went mental and then when Roy Keane scored the winner we were jumping round all over the place, and you could see in all the so-called home supporters bits of Maine Road thousands of reds doing the same, all over the ground. Very funny.
STR: What your favourite ever derby day goal?
TC: So many great ones, but you’d have to go a long way to see one as good or as important as Wayne Rooney’s goal this season.
STR: Where abouts did you grow up and what was the red/blue divide like?
TC: I grew up in Old Trafford and there were a few City fans amongst my mates, although I’d say they were the minority by a long chalk. Probably out of 40 -50 boys in my year at primary school there were probably 7 or 8 City fans, at a push 10. We had taste, although I used to enjoy going to watch City back in the day.
STR: Do you think City’s half empty grounds with £5 tickets this season in the FA Cup and Europe have shown people outside of Manchester that the blues have been lying about who the city belongs to?
TC: I think they know that Manchester is and always has been red. Again the jealousy about United and the whole ABU thing has gone almost global. I tried to make as many people aware of City’s poor gates for the two years I was on TalkSport. The reality is that their core support is around 33,000 and then another 15,000 who’ll go to maybe 3 games a season if City are doing well and it’s a big game such as Chelsea and of course United. Unless of course it’s on the telly, raining or clashes with Mothers’ Day, Yom Kippur, Ramadan, Divali, St Swithins Day etc. Any excuse not to go really.
STR: It was very entertaining to read the King of the Kippax editor blame their 20,000 empty seats on their game clashing with church the other day. You couldn’t make it up. Anyway, which City players do you think would get in to our first XI?
TC: David Silva
STR: Any regrets over Tevez leaving?
TC: Not really. He was good but I could see how he played too much with his head down. He put in great performances for Carlos Tevez rather than the team, although he gets stuck and runs about a lot. I always thought with him Rooney and Ronaldo in the team we lacked composure and wasted too many good opportunities.
STR: Is all forgiven and forgotten where Rooney is concerned?
TC: Who knows what really went on. All I know is that I’d put him straight into any all time greatest United XI from the players I’ve seen. And yes, that includes in front of Cantona.
STR: Wow. High praise indeed. What are your predictions for the game?
TC: I think it’ll be an awful boring game. 2-0 to United once we score and get them to actually try and come out and attack.
STR: Are we gonna win the league?
TC: Fingers crossed. I certainly never expected us to before the season started. I thought Chelsea would romp it.
STR: You weren’t alone mate. Roll on tomorrow! Cheers.
You can listen to Terry Christian’s show, ‘Northerners With Attitude’ on Sundays 6pm-9pm 104.9 Imagine FM or online from anywhere in the world. There’s the Manchester Unsigned Podcast too and his website TerryChristian.tv. Follow Terry on Twitter.