Manchester City assistant manager Brian Kidd is a former United player and coach but that has not stopped him from sending out a warning to his old boss Sir Alex Ferguson that “We’re coming to get you”. The former Old Trafford legend is also the first to admit however that until City win some sort of trophy which they have failed to do since lifting the League Cup way back in 1976, there is still a long way to go before they have United running scared. From the perspective of committed Manchester United fans, that challenge should be welcomed with open arms.
It’s a fair bet that if you ask them what their biggest highlights from last season were, most will immediately nominate the six points gained from the two Premier League clashes with City and the defeat of their neighbours in the two leg Carling Cup semi final. As crucial as beating the likes of Arsenal and Chelsea may be in the overall scheme of things, the same ecstatic feeling one gets when the cross city wannabes are turned over is just not there.
“I have had a foot in both camps, red and blue” said Kidd, who was Ferguson’s assistant at Old Trafford when United won their first Premier League title in 1993. “When I was a kid there wasn’t the nonsense that goes on now in football. You went to school with Blues and Reds and you went to games together. It has gone too far the other way but the rivalry lends itself to a great future for both clubs.”
“This isn’t really like it was back in the 1960s because the Blues were winning trophies back then” said Kidd who scored for United in the European Cup final just two weeks after City won the league title in 1968. “City won the league, that’s the crux of it. That made it a genuine rivalry. Here at City we haven’t won anything yet this time. At the moment we have a monkey on our back. You can’t wrap it up any other way. We need the first trophy. Once we win one the mentality will grow. The demands are huge, but once something happens, then it sparks other things. Could this be the end of the long wait? Yes, it’s similar to how it was at United.”
“When we won the League Cup in 1992, everybody was doing cartwheels because we had qualified for Europe” he remembers “that’s what it meant, but it went on from there. That is the way it could go here. Manager Roberto Mancini has won league, cups and everything in Italy and that is fantastic. He is a winner and he will win things here. He just needs the first one. We need the first trophy at City and once we win one, the mentality will grow. I honestly believe there are a lot of talented players here. We have a great squad now.” For his part Mancini has not hesitated to spend big in his attempt to bring that elusive trophy to Eastlands, it doesn’t matter which one as long as it’s silver.
Kidd was heavily criticised in Ferguson’s autobiography a decade ago but has since mended the relationship with him. “All of the time, I speak to the gaffer” he smiled “it was fantastic, the experience and the apprenticeship he gave me. I don’t want to get into the book but I appreciate everything he’s done for me. I can totally believe that he is still doing it at United, definitely. It’s because it is in him. The thing that drives him is that he loves it.”
Referring to that famous banner that hangs at the Stretford End mocking the 34 years City have gone without a trophy Kidd simply said “The banner is fair, it is a fact. It is no good talking about ifs, buts and maybes. That is it, it’s staring every one of us in the face. We have got to face it up and deal with it. So what if they have got the banner up? They’ve got the banner up. No big deal.”
Having strong rivals like Manchester City and Liverpool pushing United to the limit is good for the club especially with someone as notoriously competitive as Ferguson at the helm. It will bring the very best out of the team and fans should relish the competition. Who knows, City and ‘Pool may even be joined by another old rival in the next few years if a certain team in all white can get their act together.
Does Manchester City have a realistic chance of matching United next season?