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Manchester United’s Zlatan Ibrahimović and Paul Pogba during a Premier League match against Southampton. Photo: GettyImages
Manchester United’s Zlatan Ibrahimović and Paul Pogba during a Premier League match against Southampton. Photo: GettyImages

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Mad for it in Manchester

Fanatical fans, stupendous stadiums and packed pubs make Manchester one of the world’s great football cities – and this year the city’s two great teams are at the top of their games.

You don’t have to spend too much time on Manchester’s vibrant city streets to see that the locals are obsessed with soccer. Many walk around wearing the uniform of one of the city’s two world famous teams and the chitchat in the pubs often revolves around the latest match.

Manchester United is one of the most successful football teams of all time and usually has the upper hand over their local rivals, Manchester City. United’s home ground is Old Trafford, the fabled Theatre of Dreams, west of the city center in Stretford. Theentire district has an incredibly feverish and expectant air on match days when 75,000-odd spectators make their way towards the stadium. And after the summer transfer window that saw the arrival of new star signings, United are determined to win big once again. 

The transfer that has grabbed most of the attention is that of Zlatan Ibrahimović. With his usual self confidence, Ibrahimović has already announced that he intends to become the god of Manchester United and lead them to glory, which is naturally sweet music to the ears of the United fans.

The team also includes France’s Paul Pogba and Eng­land striker Wayne Rooney, so spectators are guaranteed the kind of incredible soccer experience at Old Trafford that few other stadiums can match. 

Photo: GettyImages

Manchester City’s most successful period was in the 1960s and 1970s. In recent years, however, they have had a renaissance, winning numerous competitions, including the Premier League in 2012 and 2014, and therefore becoming a serious challenge to their neighbors at Old Trafford, a mere 8km to the east.

Manchester City’s home is the Etihad Stadium, originally built to host the 2002 Commonwealth Games. The club’s recent success has come from massive investments and City has now joined the world’s elite, to the delight of their fans.

On match days, 60,000 fans pack out the Etihad Stadium and belt out their own rendition of the ­Rodgers and Hart classic song “Blue Moon” a sound that makes the hair on the back of your neck stand on end. 

City has as many star players as United, including Sergio Agüero from Argentina, Kevin De Bruyne from Belgium and Jamaican-born Raheem Sterling, so another successful season is anticipated. City is also Manchester’s sole representative in the Champions League this year, something the fans are naturally proud of.

Both of Manchester’s teams guarantee world-class soccer action and any football fan will find that a trip to the city is a real treat – in fact, even non football fans will be enchanted by the city’s football obsession and unique atmosphere. 

Text: Martin Mortensen 

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