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Manchester Rivalry Heating Up

In the Industrial town of Manchester in Northwest England, the soccer debate has reached a new fervor this season. Friends and even family, like Kevin and Tony Parker, are split into two camps: Red and Blue. "This year, Manchester has accomplished something remarkable for a city of its modest size and stature," writes Dave Kansas in the Wall Street Journal. "It is home to the planet's most famous soccer club, and now to what may be its richest. It's as if Cleveland suddenly became the sports capital of the world."
 
Manchester United has long held the upper hand in the rivalry. It has 18 league titles, including 11 since 1992. It holds a record 11 FA Cup titles, has won the European Champions League twice in the past 10 years and played in each of its last two finals.  Though it lacks United's glorious past, Manchester City has a promising future, mostly because of its staggering new wealth. Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed al Nahyan, who bought the team for $328 million in 2008 from Thai politician and businessman Thaksin Shinawatra, backed a $205 million international spending spree to acquire star players. The club even wrestled Argentine striker Carlos Tevez away from city rivals United. To trumpet the signing and drive home the fact that City's stadium is located inside the town's borders (United is in suburban Trafford), the Blues hoisted a huge banner in town for Mr. Tevez with the words: "Welcome to Manchester."
 
Thanks largely to the influx of star international players, the Blues are currently in sixth place in the 20-team English Premier League, only four points behind second-place United. Kevin Parker, the head of a booster club for Manchester City, says his team's recent ascent is a lifelong dream come true. "A lot of people feel that even City can't cock this one up with so much money in the bank."

Read the whole story at Wall Street Journal »

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