While Manchester may not have anywhere near as many clubs as the likes of London, it still has an incredibly proud history in football. With some of the best football teams in the world currently playing their home games in Manchester, it would be easy to assume that the ‘big two’ were the only clubs in Manchester.
There are a few other teams that also call the city their home. In this Manchester football clubs guide, we will give you a rundown of all of the major clubs in the city, their achievements and which is the most successful team in the city.
At the time of writing, the Premier League has two teams based in Manchester, including Manchester City and Manchester United.
Founded in 1880, Manchester City were formerly known as St. Mark’s (West Gorton), before becoming Ardwick Association Football Club in 1887. A second rebranding in 1894 saw the side become Manchester City, with the club keeping the same name ever since.
While their current home is the 53,400 seat Etihad Stadium, which was formerly called the City of Manchester Stadium, City played their matches between 1923 and 2003 at Maine Road. The sky blue kit that has become synonymous with the side has been worn since they became Manchester City in 1894.
Titles & Trophies
The Citizens have been at the pinnacle of English football for around a decade now, and there is no sign that they will fall off anytime soon. City had been fairly successful across the 20th century, winning two First Division titles along with a handful of FA Cups and League Cups. However, City really came to the party in the last 10 years.
A Premier League title back in 2011/12 was one of the most dramatic title wins of all time. Going into their final match of the season with QPR, City needed to match or better Manchester United’s result to ensure that they were the ones lifting the title, with their goal difference of +63 eight better than United’s.
Things did not go to plan across the match as City edged towards injury time trailing 2-1. United had won their game against Sunderland courtesy of a Wayne Rooney goal, and it was the red side of Manchester that had begun celebrating a title, what would have been their 20th time.
Edin Dzeko, who was an incredible goal-scoring servant to City across his time at the club, scored in the 92ndminute to make it 2-2 and give the home team hope again. As was always the case for Dzeko, Sergio Aguero managed to steal the show, with his name written into City and Premier League folklore. Picking the ball up on the edge of the box, Aguero did not ever let on that the game was deep into injury time and a league title was hanging on his next move.
Aguero rounded Nedum Onuoha before cooly slotting the ball past Paddy Kenny in goal to spark unbelievable celebrations at the Etihad Stadium. This was juxtaposed by the scenes of disbelief at the Stadium of Light, where news was filtering to United that City had somehow managed to win the match and the league.
Holding Out for the UEFA Champions League
From there, City have not looked back. With a further three Premier League titles with a fourth on the horizon in the 2021/22 season, City have been incredible in England over the last few years. They have also battled to a total of six FA Cups and eight League Cups in their history, but there is something still missing.
The UEFA Champions League is the one major trophy that City still crave and have as yet been unable to lift. The closest they got to lifting the trophy with the big ears came back in the 2020/21 season as they we beaten by Chelsea in the final.
A Kai Havertz goal was all it took to separate the sides in a tight contest. However, as far as winning the Champions League goes, this was their best chance by a long shot. City knew Chelsea inside out and had finished 19 points above them in the Premier League. Their failure to defeat Chelea was keenly felt by the management, players and fans, with this their best chance to end years of disappointment.
While City are always looking to add more domestic trophies to their roster, European trophies are what the side crave. With Kevin De Bruyne providing the heartbeat of City’s team through his incredible range of passing, thunderous strikes and clever game management, City are always on the hunt for silverware. Perhaps this is their season then, with De Bruyne in inspired form and helping the team to display every week just how good they are.
The former big boys of the Premier League have found times are very hard right now, with the sides around them continuing to build and grow, while they have stagnated. Prior to their current struggles, United had brought exciting football, wins and, most importantly, trophies to the 74000 fans that can cram themselves into Old Trafford. Established in 1878 as Newton Heath LYR FC, United then went onto change to the club you see today back in 1902.
Trophies & Titles
Their rich history of trophies and titles is about as impressive as it gets in England. A record 20 First Division/Premier League titles is a total that is puts them clear of any other side, but they have not been able to lift the Premier League trophy since the 2012/13 season.
Since then, a disappointing haul of just one FA Cup, one League Cup and a Europa League title has not been enough. Their woes are incredibly worrying to their fans and show no signs of changing right now. Millions of pounds have been spent on the likes of Bruno Fernandes, Harry Maguire, Jadon Sancho and Cristiano Ronaldo, with the four regulars of the current team. While all bring their own skills and abilities to United’s squad, none have really been able to arrest United’s slump.
While the side are definitely in a trophy-winning slump, they have actually not played too badly in recent seasons, with the 2021/22 campaign the exception. In the 2020/21 season, United finished in second with 74 points, five clear of Liverpool and 12 behind City.
In the season before, United finished in third, securing a berth in the Champions League, and only losing eight times in 28 matches. The red side of Manchester may be starved of silverware of late, but things have not been too bad in recent years. Of course, the 2021/22 season is the exception, with it looking like they will miss out on a Champions League spot for next year.
With current Ajax boss, Erik ten Hag, inbound for United, their fans and the board will hope that a new beginning provides better fortunes. However, with City, Liverpool and Chelsea still someway clear of United, it will take years for them to build towards Premier League success once again.
Their focus should now be on giving their new manager time to build his vision, while he will need substantial backing in the transfer market too. Modern football is not really a place in which managers are given a lot of time to build, but United will be hoping that they can end of run managerial changes since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson as they finally look to close the gap between themselves and the top.
For the League One teams, Manchester has Wigan Athletic and the Bolton Wanderers.
The side hailing from Greater Manchester was founded in 1932 and calls the DW Stadium their home. While they currently ply their trade in League One, meaning there is some real distance between Wigan and both United and City, they have ruffled some feathers when playing the two big boys in the past.
The best example of Wigan disrupting the apparent natural order came back in the 2012/13 season when Wigan managed to defeat Manchester City in the FA Cup final to lift the trophy in an incredibly shocking result. Despite going into the game as big underdogs, Wigan gave as good as they got, matching City’s 15 total shots, while they enjoyed 48% of the ball. Despite this, it took until Ben Watson netted in the 91st minute for the sides to see a goal.
City huffed and puffed across the game, but Wigan stood firm. Ultimately, it was the underdogs that came out on top in a brilliant display that the magic of the cup is still very much alive. Despite lifting the FA Cup trophy, the joy would not last long for Wigan. The side were relegated to the Championship the same season they won the cup, along with Reading and QPR, missing out on survival by three points.
From there, Wigan have found it difficult to excel as they did on that fateful day at Wembley. Currently playing in League One, Wigan are a long way off the top league in English football. They will likely return to the Championship next season after enjoying a brilliant campaign in League One across the 2021/22 season, but they will have to find another level again next season if they are to challenge in the Championship.
Founded in 1874, Bolton Wanderers play their home games at the University of Bolton Stadium. Bolton were one of the sides that founded the Football League, with the First Division proving to be the pinnacle of English football until the creation of the Premier League in 1992.
While Bolton are a side that are not synonymous with title success, Wanderers enjoyed their most successful period across the 1920’s, winning three FA Cups in this time. Despite playing for an extended period at the pinnacle of English football, Bolton have not ever been able to win a league title. Wanderers were relegated at the end of 2012 and, since then, they have been unable to make it back to the Premier League.
Their struggles were compounded by another relegation to League One, where Wanderers currently play. The 2021/22 season has seen Bolton fail to secure an automatic promotion spot or a playoff berth, meaning that they will once again ply their trade in League One next season.
Which Is the Most Successful Club in Manchester?
This only really comes down to two clubs. The struggles of Bolton and Wigan in recent years mean they have not been battling in the top league in England, and while Wigan are set for the League One title, it is not one we would count as a ‘major’ trophy.
With this in mind, this battle comes down to Manchester United and Manchester City, although there are no prizes for guessing which side will come out on top.
|Competition||Manchester United||Manchester City|
|FIFA Club World Cup||1||0|
|Total Major Trophies||42||21|
* Stats correct as of April 2022
Manchester United are clearly the most successful team from the Manchester area. With double the number of trophies City have picked up in the above metric, United have been the best English team in the history of the game. Over the last decade City have been far better than their arch-rivals.
Brilliant campaigns in the Premier League along with FA Cup and League Cup crowns show that they have been excellent in both league and cup formats. However, the one area where they still struggle is in Europe. Excellent campaigns have usually resulted in being knocked out of the Champions League as the pressure has really mounted.
It will likely prove to be a case of winning the first European trophy will be the most difficult one, with subsequent victories then far easier to attain. If City can lift the Champions League anytime soon then who knows how short United’s trophy winning advantage might last for.
The Biggest Derbies in Manchester
Of course, this was always going to come down to Manchester United vs Manchester City. United and City have a fierce rivalry that has produced some truly world-class battles. City have managed to win 57 matches in this clash, while there have been 53 draws and 77 wins for United. While United have dominated the contests between the sides across their history, City have enjoyed the rub of the green in recent seasons.
The difference in quality between the two sides right now is enormous. United have to battle to each of their wins and are incredibly inconsistent even when they do taste victory, usually seeing three points followed by a defeat. Meanwhile, for City, wins are easy to come by because they are playing so well.
Their ability to play flowing football means the opposition see a small amount of the ball, meaning their game plan will usually revolve around surviving in the game and trying to sneak out of their own half when they can. With City right at the top of the footballing world right now, it would not be surprising to see the blue side of Manchester continue to win their clashes as they look to prove who the real titans of Manchester are.