Updated: Wednesday, 3rd June 2020 @ 3:06pm

Tuesday Team Talk: City boss Manuel Pellegrini is right – Blues ARE the biggest side in Manchester

Tuesday Team Talk: City boss Manuel Pellegrini is right – Blues ARE the biggest side in Manchester

| By Liam Geraghty – Comment

City boss Manuel Pellegrini has abandoned his quiet, reserved start to life in Manchester to pile the misery on struggling rivals United and declared that his side are the city’s biggest team.

And he may just be right.

The ‘noisy neighbours’ may have only trumped their long-time nemesis on the pitch once – when Sergio Aguero’s last-gasp strike clinched a maiden Premier League crown in 2011/12 – but they are almost certain have the measure over Moyes’ boys this season too.  

This is the final piece of the jigsaw that has cost millions to create since Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan took City from also-rans to billionaires overnight in 2008.

The slick operation is headed by former Barcelona top dogs Txiki Begiristain and Ferran Soriano and Sheikh Mansour has spared no expense in bringing the best to The Etihad for the cool sum of £1bn. 

Tonight, the best will visit when Barcelona come to town and many expect them to be sent packing by a City side who have already done that to all visitors this season – save for fellow oil-rich side Chelsea.

As for United, they face a trip to Greece to play European minnows Olympiakos. And few are backing them with the same fervour.

Barcelona, of course, have formed the blueprint for the Blues’ revolution off the pitch, with City trying to painstakingly recreate the Spanish club’s iconic academy setup La Masia north-west England. While graduates have been few and far between so far, it seems that will change in only a matter of time.

The blue half of Manchester may cast envious eyes over the fence at Carrington – where both teams train – to see the likes of Danny Welbeck, Tom Cleverley and Jonny Evans living out childhood fantasies at a club they have played for since their teens. Or maybe not. But with a bit of patience, United may soon be second best there too.

One man who will be the first to know is Wayne Rooney.

With a megabucks £300k-a-week contract on the table, Rooney has been given an all-access pass to the goings-on behind the scenes at Old Trafford - a scenario that was unthinkable under Sir Alex Ferguson’s reign over the last 27 years. It is equally unthinkable over at Eastlands.

Troublemakers like Carlos Tevez, Mario Ballotelli and even former boss Roberto Mancini have been unceremoniously shown the door as the City chiefs have shown them all who rules the roost.

By comparison, the fear factor the Red Devils have enjoyed in their sparkling Premier League years has eroded and they are terrified of the consequences if they do not pander to the 28 year-old’s demands. They are terrified he will go to City. They’re terrified he will go for free.

It is exactly this situation that has seen United lose world class players over the last few years and fans are slowly taking their support elsewhere. A death in the family was almost the only sure-fire way to grab yourself a hot ticket down Sir Matt Busby Way in times gone-by.

Now, general sale tickets are readily available and what of City?  Well, they’re expanding The Etihad to a capacity of 62,000. Second only to United. For now.

Yes, City will be throwing money at that too. But United have constantly broken transfer records in the past and have done the same to the financial ground in the Premier League just as many times.

The costs incurred to levy the Glazer’s debt-laden takeover have been high and the club has slipped down to fourth in Deloitte Money League for the first time.

City are sixth but with almost limitless funds and aggressive marketing strategies – possibly to be slightly curtailed by UEFA’s Financial Fair Play policy, if it works – you can expect the positions to be reversed there too.

So, it was no surprise when Pellegrini asserted that the City juggernaut had overtaken United’s sinking ship.  In fact, it was only surprising he mentioned them at all as he continues his war-of-words with his real arch-rival, Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho.

The mere fact that Mourinho has turned his attentions to City – whereby in the past he may have been making his merry mischief with United – could be further evidence that the current state of play is here to stay.

Photo couresy of Action Images - Carl Recine, with thanks.