Manchester United v Manchester City in the Premier League: Who Has the Better Record?

Manchester United Crest and TrophySince Manchester United first played Manchester City way back in 1881, there has been a rivalry between the red and blue sides of the city. Historically, it’s been United who have had the edge and the Red Devils have won 20 more derbies than their rivals at the time of writing. But how have they compared in the Premier League era and has the balance of power shifted in recent years?

In this article, we’ll first take a look back at the finishing positions of the two Manchester sides in the Premier League (or, as we’ll see, the second and even third tiers!). We’ll then take a closer look at how the clubs have performed since the Premier League came into existence in the 1992/93 season.

Premier League Finishing Positions

Season Man United Position Man City Position
2021/22 6 1
2020/21 2 1
2019/20 3 2
2018/19 6 1
2017/18 2 1
2016/17 6 3
2015/16 5 4
2014/15 4 2
2013/14 7 1
2012/13 1 2
2011/12 2 1
2010/11 1 3
2009/10 2 5
2008/09 1 10
2007/08 1 9
2006/07 1 14
2005/06 2 15
2004/05 3 8
2003/04 3 16
2002/03 1 9
2001/02 3 21 a
2000/01 1 18
1999/00 1 22 b
1998/99 1 47 c
1997/98 2 42 d
1996/97 1 34 e
1995/96 1 18
1994/95 2 17
1993/94 1 16
1992/93 1 9
Average position: 2.43 7.44
  • a. City were 1st in the second tier
  • b. City were 2nd in the second tier
  • c. City were 3rd in the third tier
  • d. City were 22nd in the second tier
  • e. City were 14th in the second tier

Manchester United are Miles Ahead

As you can see from the table above, if we take into account the whole of the Premier League era, Man United are streets ahead of their city rivals. The key figure here is the average finishing position (from the 1992/93 season to the 2021/22 season inclusive), with United’s being a tremendously impressive 2.43 and City’s being a still-good-but-not-quite-so-good 7.44. Of course, most teams in the land would move mountains to have an average like City’s, but in the context of local rivalries, no one wants to be second best.

United have of course won more Premier League titles than City. They have been crowned champions 13 times in the Premier League compared to Man City’s six. It is notable that all of United’s Premier League titles have been won under the stewardship of the great Sir Alex Ferguson. Clearly Man City’s hopes and dreams for Premier League success were hindered somewhat when they slipped into the second tier and then even down to the third tier, albeit for a single season. Of course, they have been resurgent since, but have they made up for lost time when it comes to silverware overall?

Man United Versus Man City: All Silverware (1992/93 to 2021/22)

Man United v Man City

So we’ve seen that United have been the dominant Manchester club in terms of Premier League titles (at least taking the whole of the Premier League era into account). But how about silverware in general during the period?

Title Man United Man City
Premier League 13 6
FA Cup 5 2
League Cup 4* 6
Community Shield 11 3
Champions League 2 0
Europa League 1 0
Total 32 17

*This doesn’t include the 2022/23 EFL Cup which United also won

Once again it is quite apparent that the Red Devils are well ahead of their rivals when it comes to post-1992 silverware. In addition Man City’s failure to achieve great things on the European stage really rankles with their fans, despite their recent domestic success. And the fact that United have done the business on the continent gives their fans legitimate bragging rights over the City faithful. City may well claim the Champions League before too long, but they will take a long, long time to catch up with United’s tally.

The Great Power Shift… Red to Blue

Although so far the story seems rather one-sided, anyone who has followed English football over the last 10 or 15 years will know that City have appeared to be the side who’ve enjoyed the greater success. Indeed, if you look at the average finishing positions of the two over the last 15 years and the last 10 years, the stats back this up:

  • 10 Years United – 4.2
  • 10 Years City – 1.8
  • 15 Years United – 3.3
  • 15 Years City – 3.1

It certainly appears that fortunes changed for Man City around 2007, which – not coincidentally at all – was when the club was taken into private hands. It was first purchased by the company of former Thailand prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and then, in 2008, by the Abu Dhabi United Group Investment and Development Limited. City won the first of their Premier League titles in the 2011/12 season. United won their last the following season, Fergie’s last at the club.

United vs City Conclusions

When considering the relative success of Man United and Man City during the Premier League years, it really is a story of two halves for both clubs. For United, it largely comes down to the period under Alex Ferguson that brought great success, and the time after his departure that has brought a lot less. Whereas for City, it’s all about the pre-Abu Dhabi cash and the dearth of success compared to the more recent times in which City fans have enjoyed watching their side pick up plenty of silverware (at least on the domestic front).

At the time of writing, it appears Man United are starting to get themselves back in the game as it were. Indeed, the next few years could be the first for a while in which the Manchester rivalry could see two well-matched sides go head-to-head for glory in cups, the league and even Europe. And of course, there are the all-important local bragging rights too!