Once they were called the “Noisy Neighbours” but Manchester City have been quietly going about building an empire over in the East of the city and the fear for a lot of United fans is that the reds sit on their hands, do nothing and get left behind.
Whatever you say about the way the blues are being run at the minute, they have to be applauded for the way they have masterminded the appointment of Pep Guardiola. Initially when Garry Cook was at the club, they made some mistakes and could only attract the big name players by throwing oodles of cash at them.
Players could not be tempted by a top manager, champions league football, history, etc when they signed Robinho and tried and failed in their pursuit of Kaka. Cook famously and stupidly said after the club failed to sign Kaka, stating the mighty AC Milan “bottled” the transfer. City had to learn that not all players are led by their wallet.
The club have also handled management appointments poorly too with Roberto Mancini sat in the stands watching, ready to take over whilst Mark Hughes was hung out to dry in the dugout.
Now Manuel Pellegrini has to carry on working for his employers whilst they are already moving Guardiola in.
Some blues I have spoken to are disappointed in what has happened to Pellegrini especially as he still has the team fighting in four competitions with a good chance of winning at least two of those.
Despite some of the nonsense going on at Eastlands, you have to admire the way they are progressing their academy, thought to have overtaken United`s. With the impressive facilities that have been built over the road to the Ethiad along with the recruitment of Begiristain means that Pep`s arrival is the final piece in the jigsaw.
City have been piecing together that jigsaw for a number of years, it is no flash in the pan.
With Guardiola, City's profile in Europe will rise. Players will be attracted to the blue side of Manchester not just for the money but for the manager. Not only do United have to wake up and smell the coffee but Arsenal and Chelsea will have to follow suit.
A fear at United would be that the owners and Ed Woodward would look through their rose tinted glasses, see the money rolling in from sponsors, TV and gate receipts and think all is well and no need to react. The club should be looking beyond Louis Van Gaal, they would be stupid not to.
The club should never stand still and with the new TV deal coming in soon with even more money in the game, finishing in the top four will not be guaranteed for many sides. Gone are the days of a two horse title race from the off, with top four easily achieved. With sides like West Ham, Stoke, Southampton in a position to buy £15-£20m players, everyone needs to raise their game. The likes of Tottenham are staking a good claim for champions league football, Chelsea will not be in this position next season, it will be a real dog fight to get top four let alone win the title next season.
There are some very big decisions to be made at Old Trafford with the academy, first team manager, player recruitment and so on that need attention, the hope is that United remember you cannot sit still, just a top four place and a cup run is not good enough for this club.
There are encouraging signs when you see the club have listened to supporters and went ahead with a signing section and agreed to adding “football club” back on the club crest, but all too often Woodward keeps too quiet. Whilst no one likes a chief executive mouthing off all the time to the press, us fans would like to hear what the power brokers are planning in the future.
Will someone replace Brian McClair as head of the youth academy? Will Giggs be given the top job or will the club go for a ready made manager like Mourinho?
Whilst City quietly go about their business, United must not become complacent and maybe the reports that talks have begun with Jose Mourinho shows that the powers that be are reacting to Guardiola`s impending arrival in Manchester. Let us hope so.