Niall Quinn claims the power shift in Manchester is almost complete.
The Irishman’s former club Manchester City cruised into third place on Saturday night with a 3-0 demolition job on Southampton at St Mary’s.
Across town at United, they were left contemplating another season finishing in the slipstream of their rivals.
The bottom line is that the Blues are on course to establish themselves above the Reds for the fifth time in six years – a state of affairs that would have been unthinkable 21 years ago, back when Quinn was City’s No.9.
Now a pundit on Sky Sports, the former Republic of Ireland striker looked ahead to the business end of the current season, and said: “I don’t think that there is any doubt that City are now the top dogs in Manchester. There has been a huge power shift from United to City.
“If City can finish the season above United again, that will be the fifth time in six seasons.
“And what will make it even more telling is that United will have been below City in each of the three seasons since Sir Alex Ferguson retired.
“Sir Alex tried to suppress the challenge from the blue side of Manchester with his talk of City being about as significant as noisy neighbours.
“But once he left, United dropped, while City continued to rise.
“Jose Mourinho was brought in to restore the balance, but he has found it a very tough challenge.
“We are still to see the best of Pep Guardiola at City, but some of the football they have played this season has been absolutely fantastic.
“I don’t think there is any doubt that City are now Manchester’s top team. I’m not talking about the size of the two clubs here – because off the pitch United remain in a league of their own.
“But in terms of winning the major trophies in the next few years, I think City are much better prepared.”
Quinn, who joined City from Arsenal for £800,000 in 1990, never won a derby in his six years at Maine Road.
But he was part of the City team that finished above United in 1991 – and Blues fans had to wait until their team won the title in 2012 for it to happen again.
Quinn said: “I played in a lot of derbies and scored a few goals – but I never actually won one.
“In one of the games, I scored two headers and we were winning 2-0 at half-time.
“Then Michel Vonk misplaced a header, Eric Cantona scored, and we lost 3-2 when Roy Keane scored in the last minute.
“In my first Manchester derby, in 1990, we were 3-1 up going into the last few minutes and we ended up drawing 3-3.
“One minute the whole of the massive Kippax terrace at Maine Road was singing Blue Moon.
“When we walked off the pitch at the end, the only thing I could hear was United’s Clayton Blackmore singing ‘blue moon, you started singing too soon…’
“Sadly, that’s the memory that stands out for me.”
Quinn added: “It’s great to see two great managers like Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola battling for supremacy in Manchester.
“It hasn’t been easy for either man. We’ve seen the strain on Jose a couple of times, when he has been petulant, irked and short-fused.
“Pep has been moody as well, and I think it has taken him longer than he expected to get to grips with the Premier League.
“Jose has a bigger job to do, but he is slowly getting to grips with the task and winning the EFL Cup showed that he will eventually get it right.
“As for Pep, there have been times this season when City have looked like a dream machine.
“Perhaps our expectations were too high when he won his first 10 games. I think next season we will really see him sprinkle his gold dust once he has got the team he wants.”
- Sky Sports will show Manchester United v Chelsea exclusively live along with the North London and Manchester derbies later this month.