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Manchester City about to overtake Manchester United? Not for a long, long time…

Sportingo.com’s Phil Smith just can’t see City’s resurgence going the distance this season.

Right, it’s time to stand up and be counted. How many of you had more than one Manchester City player in your Fantasy Football line-up? Not many, I thought as much.

How many of you had Elano as one of your midfielders? Defeaning silence, no arms raised. That doesn’t surprise me either.

I suggested “more than one player” in my opening remark because I assume that a good many had Micah Richards (I did) and Richard Dunne as first-choice defenders. At 19, the broad-shouldered Richards is one of the finest prospects in the game today and he seems destined for an exceptional career with both City (if they can ward off the gathering predators) and England.

What does surprise me – not worryingly so at this early stage – is the impact Manchester City are making on the Premier League right now. Third in the table, just two defeats – at Arsenal and Blackburn Rovers – and, irritatingly, only one point adrift of their great cross-city rivals, Manchester United.

There’s no love lost between City and United. Never has been. It has been on only very rare, fleeting occasions, that the Sky Blue sector has been able to claim any bragging rights at the expense of the Reds.

But could it happen this season? Could there possibly be a seismic shift in power? Can Sven pick up a team of near down-and-outs and mould them into a cohesive unit capable of not only putting United’s nose out of joint but bringing home a significant piece of silverware for the first time in, er . . . a long time.

The answer, I fear, is NO. And I’ll try to explain why it’s not likely to happen for a long time yet.

Stability:
Covering a period since 1970, which is about as far back as our present generation of football fans can remember, City have had 20 different managers (plus another six in a caretaker capacity) which averages out at less than two seasons per manager.

United have had seven, and that includes Sir Matt Busby who handed over to Wilf McGuinness in 1970 but returned a year later to take over when McGuinness was forced to quit through ill health.

Support:
City of Manchester Stadium has a capacity of 47,726 but is rarely a sell-out. Premier League gates hover around the 43,000-45,000 mark. Their average last season was 41,596, or 87.5% of capacity.

United’s Old Trafford capacity is 76,212 and their average last season was 75,592, or 99.1% of capacity.

Finance:
As of 2006, United are second only to Real Madrid in the Rich List with income of £166.4m. City are 17th in the list with annual income of £60.9m. (These were official figures in 2006 and I believe Arsenal have now slipped into the reckoning near the top). In terms of commercial enterprise, United are millions ahead of City with their worldwide appeal.

Playing strength:
United’s spending power (thanks to income and ownership backing) allowed them to reverse the trend being set by Chelsea last season, when they won their ninth Premiership/Premier League trophy.

City’s spending this season seems to be something of a quick fix, and whilst Sven Goran Eriksson has done a brilliant job in pulling together a surprisingly cohesive squad, it remains to be seen whether they can hold it together.

Seventeen different nationalities in the dressing room could present problems when some of the latest imports find themselves on the bench for long spells. Italian Ronaldo Bianchi has already expressed his displeasure.

Major trophies:
United have won 16 league titles – old First Division, Premiership and Premier League – and the FA Cup 11 times. They have twice been champions of Europe.

City won the old First Division title twice and they have won the FA Cup four times.

So, taking a broad view, City have some way to go yet to even catch up with United, let alone overtake them.

Then again, as we all know, football’s a funny old game . . .