City and United’s clashes have provided some enduring and evocative images through the decades. The advent of Sky and the internet has ensured on-pitch flashpoints and thuggery can be rewound and replayed, rather than shelved to gather dust in the archive room.
From Mark Hughes booting Steve McMahon to Roberto Mancini challenging Sir Alex Ferguson, there are plenty of evocative images of both sets of players getting stuck in on the pitch, and managers off it.
So, dating back to the 5-1 in 1989, here are some of the most vibrant images the two Manchester clubs have produced on derby day.
A fan is escorted away during the 1989 5-1
Several hundred United supporters might have spared Alex Ferguson his lowest ebb at Maine Road. Reds burst into the City end at the start of the game and when fighting spilled onto the pitch the game was held up for eight minutes while police restored order.
Instead of ejecting the majority, officers escorted United fans to the away end. They might have wished they had been.
Mark Hughes takes exception to a Niall Quinn tackle in 1993…
Four days after United left Hell, they were treated to a delight. Turkish Delight. Gleeful City fans lobbed the confectionery at Reds when 2-0 up to celebrate Galatasaray jettisoning United from the European Cup four days earlier.
Roy Keane should have eased United back into domestic duty when one-on-one with Tony Coton at 0-0 but was denied and, instead, another Irishman opened the scoring. Two Niall Quinn headers gave City the half-time advantage, much to Mark Hughes’ obvious chagrin.
And shortly afterwards boots Steve McMahon
Watching Hughes’ incandescent thuggery today, it is amazing he did not get sent off. He stamped on Quinn, belligerently confronted David White and mercilessly booted Steve McMahon during a flurry of fouls shortly before the pause.
Referee Robbie Hart reprieved Hughes, flourishing only a yellow card and United completed one of their fondest comebacks of the Ferguson era to win 3-2.
Curle tries to unsettle Cantona in 1994
Keith Curle and Eric Cantona were neighbours and, on the pitch, Curle bickered like a neighbour who thought he had the best lawn.
In City’s 3-2 defeat at Maine Road, his foul on Cantona at the death would probably warrant a red card these days but referee Hart again brandished yellow. Months later, Cantona returned from a seven game ban, having collected red cards at Swindon (deservedly) and Arsenal (undeservedly) against City.
Curle preyed on Cantona’s penchant for retaliation but the provocation didn’t work. The Frenchman scored both goals as United won 2-0.
Cantona and Brightwell go all in
A match that exorcised ghosts of the ’89 5-1 for Reds, United went one better with their 5-0 hammering of City in November 1994.
Cantona, who netted eight derby goals, got the party started with an imperious half-volley, having trapped Andrei Kanchelski’s perceptive pass on his chest, and repaid the Russian with the fifth for Kanchelskis’ hat-trick goal.
As the image shows, Ian Brightwell was dogged but defeated.
Keane introduces himself to Kinkladze in 96
United and City’s 1996 FA Cup fifth round tie, even in the mid-90s, harked back to supporters’ heydays of the 70s and 80s. City fans occupied the Scoreboard Paddock, the rain lashed down and the pitch began to resemble the cabbage patches of yesteryear.
And Roy Keane (who else?) set the tone with a crunching challenge on the mercurial Georgie Kinkladze.
Michael Brown steps on Nicky Butt…
Keane, though, was surpassed in the s**thousery stakes by 19-year-old Michael Brown who, like Hughes and Curle two seasons earlier, escaped an obvious red card when he deliberately trod on Nicky Butt.
And sparks a melee
In front of 42,692 baying supporters, Reds and Blues began picking fights. Hughes had left, but United’s hard b*****d spine was still formidable, as Gortanite Butt weighed in. irishmen Keane and Quinn, whose turbulent relationship would continue from Saipan to Sunderland years later, showed no love loss and it said much for Cantona’s newfound calmness that he emerged as the peacemaker.
Butt and Brown get reacquainted a month later
A Lee Sharpe side-footer clinched the derby Cup tie in February and the teams met again in April. United were vying for the title and City were fighting to stay in the league. Twice United led and twice City equalised. The cocky Curle then showed Ryan Giggs down the line and watched the Welshman arrow the ball into the top corner for a wonderful winner.
Irwin isn’t happy with Weah for cutting short his testimonial appearance in 2000
After a four-year absence from the top flight, City were back and before the season had started they were invited to Old Trafford for Denis Irwin’s testimonial.
Irwin, though, lasted 36 minutes as George Weah cut short his evening in a bruising encounter. David Beckham took just seconds to lose his rag with Danny Tiatto and Gary Neville picked fights with Alf-Inge Haaland, the lippy Paul Dickov and his former United teammate Terry Cooke.
Dickov welcomes Beckham back to Maine Road…
November signalled the first competitive derby in four-and-a-half years. Ferguson missed it due to his son’s wedding in South Africa on an eventful day for Beckham. City fans, nor Dickov, had forgotten his behaviour in Irwin’s testimonial and he was given a white-hot welcome by the North Stand.
While City fans pelt him with coins
Beckham had already beaten Nicky Weaver with an early free-kick and, on corner-taking duty, was felled by missiles thrown from the City contingent. The United No.7 remarked afterwards he had a few extra coins for his son’s piggy bank.
Tiatto lunges at Phil Neville…
Though not as replayed or cited as an infamous derby tackle later that season, Tiatto’s on Phil Neville was arguably just as dangerous.
Neville described Tiatto’s challenge as ‘cowardly’, which led to an astonishing outburst from the Aussie.
And Reds and Blues pile in
“As soon as you touch one of the United players, they all kick up a big fuss – it’s just pathetic,” Tiatto said. “It was a very ordinary challenge, especially when you see some of the ones United put in every week.
“Phil and Gary Neville seem to have a moan every time something goes wrong them for them. What Phil said is a disgrace.
“If he wants to see me put in a real tackle, then I’m more than willing when I next come up against him.
“I jumped in the air and, if it had been deliberate, I would’t have done that. I would have gone for the legs.”
Keane gets his revenge
Tiatto was not on the pitch when United and City met in the reverse fixture that season, when he would have seen what he might regard as a ‘real tackle’.
Keane had waited the best part of four years to enjoy an act of vengeance against Haaland for accusing him of faking his cruciate ligament injury.
“I’d waited long enough. I f*****g hit him hard. The ball was there (I think),” Keane wrote in his autobiography.
“Take that you c***. And don’t ever stand over me sneering about fake injuries.”
Neville and McManaman butt heads
“Gary Neville is a Red, he hates Scousers,” United fans sing, and Neville proved that when he headbutted Steve McManaman in the 2004 Valentine’s Day derby.
Neville had thrown a pathetic dive inside City’s area and, while the game was going on, was confronted by Michael Tarnat, Joey Barton and McManaman, who went head-to-head with the Bury-born defender.
McManaman stuck his head in first but Neville gently nutted him and received a red card. United won 4-2.
Butt butts heads with Distin
A month later, it was nearly a reverse scoreline. United, reeling from their traumatic Champions League elimination to Porto, arrived for their first match at the City of Manchester Stadium with one win in five.
Deprived of Gary Neville and Keane and pining for the suspended Rio Ferdinand, they were bullied by a gutsy City side who hammered them 4-1 in a win enriched by Shaun Wright-Phillips’ late screamer.
Dunne takes no nonsense from Saha
A forgettable match, an organised City shut out a profligate United in November 2004 – despite David James’ clumsy handling – in Kevin Keegan’s final Manchester derby. Richard Dunne took no nonsense from a pugnacious Louis Saha.
Ball leaves his mark on Ronaldo
Stuart Pearce’s last home game at the City helm extended The Blues’ scoreless streak at home in the Premier League to eight games, as Cristiano Ronaldo scored his penalty and Darius Vassell saw his saved.
Michael Ball, determined to shackle the irrepressible Ronaldo, nastily trod on his abdomen less than two minutes into the game. Gallingly for the left-back, he then fouled Ronaldo to concede the pivotal penalty.
Neville flips the bird at Tevez
The League Cup semi-final in 2010 gave the derby an adrenaline shot. Carlos Tevez, denied on his first return to United by the post, was in matchwinning and trolling form in the first leg.
Gary Neville had said ahead of the game Tevez was not worth the £25m City had reportedly paid. Tevez celebrated his equaliser by advising Neville to keep his mouth shut. Neville flipped the bird.
Richards and Fletcher square up under the floodlights
Ahead of the second leg, the FA wrote to both clubs to ask them to calm their players down ahead of a potentially volatile match. It did not work.
Craig Bellamy was pelted by a missile and a glass bottle narrowly missed him in front of the K Stand. It got heated, too, between Micah Richards and Darren Fletcher on a night United overturned the 2-1 deficit to win 4-3 on aggregate.
Rafael lectures Tevez
An image that endeared Rafael da Silva to United supporters, his adrenaline-fulled lecture to Carlos Tevez in November 2010 was ubiquitous on Twitter avatars for months.
It could not mask a drab derby, though.
Scholes leaves Zabaleta in a heap
Frustrated by Yaya Toure’s breakthrough and City’s sudden domination, Paul Scholes executed a knee high challenge that left Pablo Zabaleta in a heap and reinforced City’s control of the 2011 FA Cup semi-final, as they saw out their 1-0 win comfortably.
Balotelli winds up United at Wembley
Mario Balotelli, like Carlos Tevez the previous year, could not resist rubbing a City triumph in United fans’ faces. At full-time, he charged towards United supporters clutching the City shirt, drawing the vexed attention of Rio Ferdinand, Anderson and Patrice Evra.
Roberto Mancini quickly intervened, followed by David Platt.
Mancini stands up to Ferguson
A significant moment in derby history, Ferguson had brushed aside City managers from Brian Little to Alan Ball to Mark Hughes, but in Mancini he came up against a man possibly more fiery than he was.
Their touchline tantrum in the decisive 2012 derby proved City had left Ferguson, mindful of their ascension, rattled.
Zabaleta meets Fellaini’s elbow
During what was City’s modern day golden era in derby fixtures, their 3-0 hammering of United at Old Trafford in March 2014 compelled some United fans in the south stand to turn against Ferguson for appointing David Moyes on a night Marouane Fellaini introduced Pablo Zabaleta to his elbow.
Stewards stop Reds from ripping down Moyes’ banner on derby night
The crushing defeat, just weeks after Liverpool had won by the same scoreline on United’s turf, was too much for some Reds in the second tier of the Stretford End. Stewards had to guard the maligned ‘The Chosen One’ banner to prevent it from being pulled down.
Kompany launches into Blind
Chris Smalling saw red in the first derby for two ‘stupid’ yellow cards but Vincent Kompany enraged United supporters with his overzealous challenge on Daley Blind.
Struggling for form, Kompany received a yellow card and was hooked at half-time.
Rio Ferdinand is hit by a coin
When Robin van Persie’s free-kick gave United a smash-and-grab victory at the Etihad in December 2012, United players celebrated wildly in front of the away end.
It wasn’t received well by the home fans – Rio Ferdinand’s celebrations were ended abruptly by a coin striking him above his eye. Ferdinand would later tweet: “Whoever threw that coin, what a shot! Can’t believe it was a copper 2p….could have at least been a £1 coin!”
Another Blue ran onto the pitch to try and get to Rio Ferdinand as he was taken away for treatment, but he slipped en route, then was grabbed by Joe Hart and was ultimately carried away in front of laughing Reds.
Help us build a Derby Day map of Manchester:
Where will you be supporting United or City from? You can help us compile a Derby Day map of Manchester.
Simply enter the first part of your postcode, then click on the red or blue button. Your entry will be added to the results – and you’ll get to see an interactive map which shows the results so far for each Greater Manchester area.
The survey will appear immediately below here, please wait a few seconds if it hasn’t loaded yet
When you enter in your own club affiliation, you will see a map showing how the votes have been going so far but the final results could change as more fans take part.
We will publish the verdict after Sunday’s big game.