On the Old Trafford terraces there is a huge blue elephant in the room – City’s genuine contention for honours this year and the exhillerating manner in which they’re going about it. United fan Alwyn Payne is man enough to look it straight in the eye….

It wasn’t sheer mass hysteria greeting City’s inevitable victory at Old Trafford last week that really got to me; it was in fact the exact opposite. Sure, the scoreline surprised a few people at first glance, but there was an overarching sense of satisfaction that I detected from the blue half of Manchester, more than anything else. Of course, I was subjected to the same level of goading and smugness from my blue friends and colleagues resulting from any derby defeat, but that’s to be expected. It was the fact that they weren’t too surprised that spoke volumes.

City’s FA Cup success did wonders for their fans, but even more significant than a trophy was the humiliating destruction of current champions and local rivals United on their own turf. If the 1-6 result carved any sort of message onto the face of the English game, it was ‘We’re big boys now, and we’re here to stay’. Excuse the corny dramatic nature of the last sentence, and indulge me.

There are many City fans who would immediately take issue with that statement, as an FA Cup, automatic Champions League place and the fact that they topped the table at times last season may well warrant ‘big boy’ status. However, I think that the widely held view/belief/fear that Manchester City would soon go on to dominate English football is only starting to be realised this season. They have passed every domestic test with flying colours, and have set a goalscoring and point-winning pace that seems to be – at least in my humble opinion – quite frightening.

Just to digress for a second; I believe that every self respecting football fan should start referring to the top teams as “The Big Boys.” It’d be like an animated resurrection of the ‘Sky 4′, only with an ever so slightly heightened homo-erotic subtext. Anyway, football…

Another realisation that I (and I hope I’m not alone in this) have come to this term is that City now have great squad depth. One of the reasons given for their “failure” – (how ridiculous does that sound?) – in the league last season was that their starting 11 dramatically underpinned their overall squad. Though, with some world class additions and a few canny purchases, it seems hard to look past these players celebrating their first collective title success next May, or indeed April, should they manage to preserve their current pace.

As for their title rivals, now 5 points behind and counting; Chelsea are enduring what many predicted would be a ‘transitional’ season, as much as the media’s goading of AVB would have us believe otherwise. Their squad, though brimming with talent, does still seem a little short of that… je ne c’est quoi…and no, he’s not a new French wonderkid.

United seem dead-set on proving correct all the critiscism they received last season, flattering to deceive and generally playing shite in equal measure.

The only title that Arsenal seem to be in the running for this season is “Most dramatic roller-coaster clusterfuck of a league season…ever”, and they probably won’t even win that either. Liverpool seem intent on taking the record for playing the most unattractive football with the biggest collection of overpriced monkeys in world football.

You can talk all you want about the ugliness of Rooney & Tevez et al., but any squad that contains the likes of Jay Spearing; a man (?) who resembles a botched human sacrifice, is really taking the piss. Blackburn had the cringeworthy chicken ad, United have the sensationally poor wine advert, and Liverpool have the entire cast of Orcs for this year’s Lord Of The Rings panto, with grimacing King Kenny thrown in as Gollum. The precious, shiny thing that he had his hands on once upon a time, is now kept tantalisingly close, yet still out of reach. Flawless metaphor, if you use your imagination a little bit [a lot].

Alas, back to football. United seem dead-set on proving correct all the critiscism they received last season, flattering to deceive and generally playing shite in equal measure. The momentum, this year, seems to have shifted a few miles east to the Etihad, and despite it only being November, City are the team to beat. Far from foaming at the mouth and spouting vile vitriol, I can only sit back, offer my shockingly poor analysis, and enjoy a fascinating season during which the title looks to be staying up north.

Come [what] May, as much as many City fans may be dreaming about an ‘Invincible’ season, there won’t be much in it…er, innit. I won’t begrudge them a league success, and I’d be the first to offer a handshake of congratulations, should the inevitable come to happen, but one thing remains to be said. City’s rise does not indicate the fall, decline, or other such negative word, of Manchester United. We’ll always be up there, even if it’s just to chase you from further down the table.

Anyone who harbours any sort of hope that the coming period in English football will not feature United as one of the most prominent teams is, frankly, kidding themselves. As much as you’d hate to admit it, this won’t be known as the Age of Manchester City, it will be the Age of City & United, at least by some. Well, maybe just by me. In fact, I’m never, ever going to refer to it as that…ever again, but you get my point. Whatever it was. United and City will be battling it out for the title every season, and for me, the elevation of our rivalry to potentially one of the most heated in world football, can only be a good thing.