City and United - what makes one club bigger than the other?

Manuel Pellegrini

Manuel Pellegrini's comments yesterday have caused a few people to raise their eyebrows.

Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini said ahead of his side’s Champions League clash with Barcelona that City are now the biggest club in Manchester – ahead of reigning Premier League Champions.

This comment may have something to do with City being in contention to win all four major prizes on offer to them this season whilst United have put up a pretty poor defence of their title in their first season under David Moyes – with only the Champions League the realistic chance for them to win silverware.

Pellegrini said, as quoted by Sky Sports: ‘If we only consider this season, there is just one club in Manchester and it’s ours, but you cannot forget what United has done in the previous years.’

It is certainly a way the Chilean can endear himself to the City faithful but what makes one club bigger than the other?

Of course, success seems to come in cycles, sides have periods of having terrific football teams, other clubs have periods of dominance.

Some will say the size of their support, their revenue, the amount of disposable income even the size of the ground they play in or how long they have been a football club for. It is a debate that football supporters of rival teams have on a regular basis.

Undoubtedly City currently have the better team in Manchester at the moment but it doesn’t necessarily mean they are a big club. United have a vast fan base, a history of winning trophies both at home and abroad. They have the record number of English league titles (20) and FA Cup wins (11), have won the European Cup on three occasions. City’s record of three league titles and five FA Cup wins by comparison is meagre - but that can change in the future. 

United's fan base is bigger, they're higher up the footballing rich list, and were formed as Newton Heath two years earlier than Manchester City. In a lot of areas that fans might point to in their arguments it seems United are bigger despite their poor season.

City may have the riches, but does one season of being better than the other club mean you are bigger than them? It may even be a case of Pellegrini's statement getting lost in translation in some way.

They're certainly the better side in Manchester at the moment, though it is going to take a lot of time before they can call themselves the biggest.

image: © Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile

Register for MANCHESTER UNITED team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch