Saturday, April 13, 2024

Which Treble Was Better? Manchester United Vs Manchester City

Last season, Manchester City finally clinched the Champions League after many years of trying under Pep Guardiola. It is a massive achievement for the club, not only clinching the prize the owners have coveted the most since they purchased the club way back in 2008 but also securing a historic treble. They are only the second team to do so in English football history. 

We are aware that Liverpool won three trophies in the 2001 – 2002 season. Still, we are basing this article on the proper treble, winning the Premier League, F.A. Cup, and the Champions League. The other English side to do this was Manchester City’s fierce Local Rivals Manchester United. They sealed the deal in 1999 with an unforgettable night in Barcelona and two late goals against Bayern Munich. So now this leads us to our great debate: whose treble was better? I’ve put together some research, and I will compare the two sides’ achievements to see if I can come up with an answer. 

How The Games Changed

The dynamics of the sport have drastically transformed since United’s historic achievement, with an unprecedented influx of money reshaping the elite footballing landscape. As fans debated the prowess of Guardiola’s City in the lead-up to their recent triumph, the curtain has now fallen, allowing for a nuanced comparison between the two remarkable treble-winning sides. 

Ability-wise, Manchester City would beat the 1999 Manchester United team on paper. Manchester City effectively has every position covered in every department. If they changed the starting eleven last season, they could still put a team on the pitch that could go on and win the league. The investment in that football club has been insane. Also, not only do they have the best squad, but they currently have the best manager who is active at writing. Also, Erling Haaland scored 36 goals in the Premier League that season alone. A record-breaking aunt for the Norweigan robot.

Now, I’m not stating that the Manchester United team wasn’t also packed to the brim with quality. Of course, it had to be to achieve such a remarkable feat. It was, however, much different back then. The Premier League was in its infancy as the new best league in the world (A title it took from Serie A in Italy), so players were still choosing other destinations, so it took more work to attract all the best talent. Another factor is money. Of course, United spent big money on players, but it’s different from what we see today. United also still had a lot of the class of 92 on their books. Homegrown talent that had risen through the ranks. Now, pick out the homegrown player in the treble-winning Manchester City squad. There are a few, but they are few.

How Difficult Was It For Each Team To Win

City never looked like losing the Final and going into the game, there only seemed to be one outcome. Credit to Inter Milan, as the game only finished one nil, but the Citizens never really looked in trouble. The same can be said for their Premier League Campaign. They walked the league last season. There wasn’t a team anywhere near them in ability and quality last season; they were formidable. 

In contrast, Manchester United was pushed by Arsenal in 1999. They secured the title at Old Trafford against Tottenham Hotspur. Les Ferdinand had put Tottenham ahead, and goals from Beckham and Cole on either side of half-time gave United a 2–1 win that rendered Arsenal’s victory over Aston Villa irrelevant and brought United their fifth league title in seven years. 

Their Champions League final against Bayern Munich was also a much tougher contest for them to navigate. They lost the services of club captain Roy Kean after he picked up a yellow card in the semi-final and Paul Scholes for the same reason.

As for the F.A Cup games, both teams had challenging routes to the final. Still, City had an easier time of it in the semi-finals. In contrast, United had to play Arsenal in a classic game that’s is famous for a particular Ryan Giggs goal. However, City did have to play Arsenal and Chelsea on the way to Wembley, so overall, rounding things out when discussing the F.A cup goes; things are pretty even when it comes to difficulty lifting the trophy. 

Entertainment Factor 

While United’s treble is unique in football history, characterised by a dramatic injury-time victory in the Champions League final, City’s 2023 outfit brings a different dimension. The debate between entertainment and quality arises, concluding that the 1999 side is the choice if one seeks cinematic drama. Still, City’s 2023 squad takes the crown for a display of superior team prowess. 

Nathan Ridley was interviewed by The Sun back in June 2023, and he stated, “What Sir Alex Ferguson’s side pulled off in 1999 will always be remembered with far more romanticism than City’s feat just for the sheer drama alone – never mind not having 115 Premier League charges looming over them. The final-day title win, that semi-final against Arsenal and those three added minutes in Barcelona – it was footballing entertainment at its finest”.

“Their treble wasn’t supposed to happen, whereas it almost feels like City’s was merely inevitable during the Pep Guardiola era, a testament to how well they’ve established themselves as a footballing juggernaut. Saturday felt like the culmination of 15 years of precise groundwork laid on their quest for world domination”.

I chose this quote as it is significant and matches how I think about the subject. The City is that good. They’re winning; it all feels like something that could happen in any season. United were fantastic in 1999, but there always seemed to be more jeopardy as they could be beaten. 

Final Conclusion 

Although I do not doubt that Manchester City is a better side than the 1999 Manchester United team, in my opinion (remember, this is just an opinion), United’s treble is better. Overall, it was more challenging for them as they didn’t have the same resources, and the entertainment factor, for me, is what gives them the edge.