Was The 2011 FA Cup Semi-Final When The Power Shifted In Manchester?

Manchester United face Manchester City in the FA Cup final at Wembley
09:00, 03 Jun 2023

This weekend, the first Manchester derby in an FA Cup final will take place. But it isn’t the first time the two teams have met at the new Wembley. Back in 2011, Manchester City beat their nearest rivals 1-0 in the FA Cup semi-final. 

It proved to be a landmark moment in the history of these two football clubs. Man City had come into new money and were trying to fight their way to the top of the Premier League table, albeit they were still a little way short. Sir Alex Ferguson had previously dismissed his ‘noisy neighbours’, but they were becoming impossible to ignore, even as United won another Premier League title. 

2011 was a hugely successful season for the Red Devils. They didn’t lose in the league until February and with Wayne Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov tearing teams apart, it looked like they were on for a treble. They reached the Champions League final against Barcelona, but it would be their closest rivals that halted their perfect season at Wembley. 


Man City were good, but they weren’t yet on the level of United. Despite the money coming in after the takeover in 2008, they had only just built a squad that could get into the top four, and were still searching for that first trophy. 

They had built a talented squad, but one not used to winning. Joe Hart, Vincent Kompany, Gareth Barry, David Silva and Carlos Tevez provided the spine of their team and they had run United close in both league games. A 0-0 draw at the Etihad was followed by a 2-1 defeat at Old Trafford, so by the time Wembley rolled around, most thought United would be able to deal with their resurgent neighbours once more. 

Roberto Mancini’s side had grown since the days of Robinho and now with an elite manager at the helm, were ready to challenge for the big trophies. They competed in the Europa League that term, but all eyes were on this FA Cup semi-final and the chance to not only win their first major trophy in 35 years, but get one over on the club that had mocked them for so long. 

Berbatov should have scored but missed two sitters and then, in the second half, City got their moment. Yaya Toure stepped up to the plate to power his way past Nemanja Vidic and slide the ball past Edwin Van der Sar. In doing so, he didn’t just send the Cityzens to the FA Cup final, but thrust a dagger into the heart of Manchester United. 

Now there was no denying it. Their irritating noisy neighbours had ended their hopes of a potential treble and arrived at the big time. They’d go on to win the final against Stoke City, with Toure again scoring the winner, and it paved the way for the success we see today. 

The following season, after ending the trophy drought that United used to mock at Old Trafford, they went one better and pipped them to the Premier League title thanks to Sergio Aguero. Sir Alex was furious, and although he would wrestle back the title in his final season, City had established themselves as contenders. 

In the years since his retirement, as United have fallen away, City have established themselves as the undeniable number one club in the country. As United went through David Moyes, Louis van Gaal, Jose Mourinho and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, City kept on building, and winning. Pep Guardiola’s arrival can be pinpointed as the moment that the sky blue half of the city took full supremacy over their rivals. 

Since then, they’ve won five of the last six Premier League titles, matching the most dominant spell that Sir Alex Feguson had in charge of United. If they win it next term, they will become the first team to win four Premier League titles in a row. This season, they are even going for their very own treble in an attempt to match what United achieved in 1999. 

It’s almost unthinkable, and the Red Devils would love nothing more than to stop them in their tracks, just as City did to them in 2011. City’s money may have come in 2008, but the FA Cup semi-final of 2011 was the true turning point for the city of Manchester. Now they need to prove they are still top dogs at Wembley.

*18+ | BeGambleAware

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