Manchester City have money and time on their side to stop United's 'tick tock' taunts

28 January 2010 07:05
For Manchester United supporters, it is a mocking reminder of the ticking clock banner at the Stretford End which simply reads "34", to mark the years since City last lifted a major trophy.

But the blues have now adopted "Tick Tock" as their riposte to the United taunts. Tick Tock, your time is running out.

Beach body beautyWhen Wayne Rooney's head guided Ryan Giggs's cross past Shay Given in the 92nd minute of United's electrifying Carling Cup semi-final triumph on Wednesday, the two-word text messages were streaming only one way, from red to blue. Tick Tock.

Yet as the city awoke on Thursday in the aftermath of perhaps the most pivotal Manchester derby since Denis Law's back-heel nudged United towards relegation in 1974, Rooney's decisive strike had done little to extinguish the belief on the blue side of town that City are now here to stay, capable of replaying the days of the 1960s when they shared top billing with United.

Garry Cook, the Manchester City chief executive, gave a transparent statement of the club's stellar ambition when he declared last week that City would be, "without doubt, the biggest and best football club in the world".

United will have something to say about that and Cook's agonised reaction to Rooney's goal on Wednesday betrayed the emotion of a man who had just learnt the hard way that you do not torment the big beast just as you are about to stride into its territory.

Cook's propensity to speak first and think later has intensified the chatter suggesting that Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan will dispense with his services at the end of the season, yet City are aware of the 'noise' from the fraternity of fixers and dealmakers who have little affection for Cook and point out that the owner remains wholly supportive.

Having replaced manager Mark Hughes with Roberto Mancini last month, City are determined to enjoy a period of stability. Stability on and off the pitch, allied with the funds provided by Sheikh Mansour, would make City a formidable force.

In contrast, there remains a sense of turmoil across the city at Old Trafford. Sir Alex Ferguson might be approaching his 24th anniversary as United manager later this year, but the club's financial situation and the escalating antagonism felt by many of the club's fans towards the owners, the Glazer family, hardly paint a picture of serenity, despite the success in reaching the Carling Cup final at City's expense.

And while City are practically swimming in money, United are operating at full steam simply to avoid drowning in debt which, at the last count, stood at £716.5 million. Hence the optimism at of a bright future Eastlands and the fear among some at Old Trafford of difficult times ahead.

United's ability to triumph over adversity is a priceless commodity that even City's money cannot buy, however.

It was borne out against City, with veterans Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs, supplemented by the ascendant Darren Fletcher and, of course, Rooney, inspiring United to another of their defiant performances.

But with Inter Milan joining Real Madrid in their attempts to prise Nemanja Vidic from Old Trafford and Giggs, Scholes and Edwin van der Sar appearing more irreplaceable the older they get, United are approaching a point when investment in the team becomes imperative.

Even with all of City's spending power, Ferguson would struggle to identify a new Giggs and Scholes. Instead, he has to do it with a budget squeezed by interest repayments on the Glazers' debt.

City have no such concerns. They may have lost the battle against United, but they are still capable winning Manchester's civil war. They have the money and they have time.

Source: Telegraph