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Is Manchester an ‘arrogant bully’?

After the National Football Museum goes our way others are muttering about Manchester being too big for its boots. Are they right?

Published on November 24th 2009.

Is Manchester an ‘arrogant bully’?
No: - 45%

Is Manchester becoming an ‘arrogant bully’ – to use a phrase in Crain’s Manchester Business mag?

Such clear headed leadership will always attract criticism for being ‘arrogant’. Back to Manchester United – or to go outside the region in footie analogies, Chelsea. Dominant scale makes others suspect ‘arrogance’ even when there may be none. Success similarly may lead to an inevitable aloofness even if not intended.

Is the city being pushy with its regional neighbours, gaining the arrogant reputation of, say, Manchester United? Or even worse are we really becoming the North’s new London, looking down disdainfully on other cities and towns?

Behind closed doors, or openly in Preston’s case, this is what many in the North West’s civic, business and cultural communities are asking after it was revealed that the National Football Museum (NFM) would be moving to Manchester from Preston - following heavy Manchester lobbying.

You can see why some areas of the region and indeed the North might think so. Not only have we had the victory over the NFM, but, amongst many initiatives, snaffled for Media City more than 1,400 BBC jobs within major departments such as Sports, Childrens and Five Live.

Having the broadcasting muscle of the most respected force in world media, after Manchester Confidential of course, can only increase Brand Manchester’s profile (yes, we know Media City is in Salford, but it’s all part of Greater Manchester and close to the city centre).

Given the level of investment from private and public sources on major projects in recent years you can see why other areas may feel they’re being left behind.

Yet there is a certain logic in a Manchester-centric NW view. We are the major business, sporting and cultural centre (although Liverpool could argue long and hard about the cultural side of things). It's a natural focus for regional activity.

This is as it should be. After-all you can only de-centralise so far. Having the powerful North West Development Agency based in Warrington, rather than either Manchester or Liverpool, is a classic example of the muddle which occurs when people try to go too hard against logic. Yep, nice gesture, but when attracting investors it’s better not to have to explain where your headquarters are based. And why. It’s the Sydney/Canberra argument in Australia or the Toronto/Ottawa debate in Canada.

Manchester and Liverpool have been top dogs in the North West for 300 years. If anything ‘National’ is to be based up here it makes sense that it should be in either of the two cities, and given that Manchester has the larger economy then it must take precedence on some occasions.

Maybe the other regional areas should remember that a strong Manchester brings benefits for the whole North West, as the investment spreads or as people work in the city and live elsewhere. Better the NFM being here than in London, better Media City being on Salford Quays rather than not moving at all, better Manchester Airport being the biggest airport outside the Home Counties.

Then again, perhaps the ‘arrogant’ reputation is not down to the investment itself, but in the firm leadership which leads to investment.

The City of Manchester, in particular, has according to countless national commentators been more dynamic and creative than other cities, and not just in the North West.

With leadership in the last 20 plus years, from Graham Stringer and then Sir Richard Leese and Sir Howard Bernstein, the city has been forthright and clear in its objective of improving itself.

Such clear headed leadership will always attract criticism for being ‘arrogant’. Back to Manchester United – or to go outside the region in footie analogies, Chelsea. City with their new millions best watch out for their reputation as well. Dominant scale makes others suspect ‘arrogance’ even when there may be none. Success similarly may lead to an inevitable aloofness even if not intended.

Manchester in the end may want to ensure it treads carefully with its neighbours but it must retain its sense of purpose. As alluded to above, a rubbish Manchester won't help anyone up here.

So do you think Manchester can be an ‘arrogant bully’? Vote on the Homepage. One vote per person please.

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38 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

AnonymousNovember 24th 2009.

Salford is NOT in Manchester. Media City is in Salford.

scoteeeNovember 24th 2009.

Salford is in Greater Manchester just as Manchester is in Lancashire ya-know what with the NFM n'all that! :@)

PedantNovember 24th 2009.

Media City is in Salford Quays, not Manchester - a fact that still irks Bernstein et al. Manchester had the deal sone until Salford snatched it from under their noses. Which goes to show that bullies are always open to a crafty slap in the chops while they are busy eyeing up your girlfriend.

ADNovember 24th 2009.

Bullying suggests the people and panels who decide where things like the NFM go are week and give in to preasure. I dont think thats the case, those decision makers are influenced by manchesters 'critical mass' and better salesman ship. Its not bullying to be better at selling yourself than somone else.

CasNovember 24th 2009.

Didn't the NFM approach Manchester and not the other way around?

tomegranateNovember 24th 2009.

Anything that centres attention on the NW - or in fact anywhere except the southeast - should be warmly welcomed by everone in the region. Such development will only achieve and maintain momentum if there is a clear regional centre. London is such a capital-sucking behemoth that the rest of the country cannot afford such petty parochialsm.As for the preceding comments, where does it say that Salford Quays IS in Manchester? Scotee pointed out the distinction, which was already acknowledged in the article in anticipation of saddos like you two. If Salford was stuck on its own without Manchester beside so close by, do you really think the Quays would not have been redeveloped in the first place? The Quays are about as close to Manchester as they can be whilst still being in Salford - the city boundaries really are irrelevant.

tblzebraNovember 24th 2009.

Manchester can't be arrogant - that's personification, that is.

AnonymousNovember 24th 2009.

One of the reasons that our region has under performed for so long is that it is riven with petty sub regional squabbles about meaningless administrative boundaries. All of this is, frankly, pathetic. Salford/Manchester/Trafford whatever. Does anyone seriously think that the outside world cares? The brand name for our region is Manchester. Period. If you travel as much as I do you will realise what an international brand it actually is (and not just MUFC) we should be proud of that and exploit it for the good of all the people that live here. However people outside can't understand why 'Manchester is so small' (population 400k or so) I have to go to great lengths to explain the nonsense of being in the city centre, crossing the bridge and not being in Manchester at all. These administrative anomalies allow our regional rivals to snipe at us for being only the 7th biggest city in Britain and undermines all the other more positive messages. Greater Birmingham is no bigger than Greater Manchester but that city moved its boundaries years ago to allow it to be called 'the second city'.We all really need to grow up and see ourselves from an outsider's perspective. Rant over.

AnonymousNovember 24th 2009.

I think your obsession with the size is just as pathetic as the boundary point. Who cares? I've never had anyone say to me 'you're from the 7th biggest UK city' as I don't think anyone is really that bothered. London is the same, all split into boroughs but it hardly holds them back.

ONovember 24th 2009.

What's with Man Con referring to Crain's magazine in vitrually every new article written since some time in the last two weeks?

AnonymousNovember 24th 2009.

Arrogance is the perception of the envious

AnonymousNovember 24th 2009.

'' QUOTE: I think your obsession with the size is just as pathetic as the boundary point. Who cares? I've never had anyone say to me 'you're from the 7th biggest UK city' as I don't think anyone is really that bothered. London is the same, all split into boroughs but it hardly holds them back. ” >>>>Not an obsession with size. Call it critical mass. Investment is often about perception. You make the point yourself that although London is split into boroughs they are all London Boroughs ie seen as parts of the whole. Nobody says they're from Wandsworth or Tower Hamlets. No one cares. It's London. We should think the same about Manchester.

AnonymousNovember 24th 2009.

I disagree, if you're away and meet what we would all call a cockney, ask them where they are from then they certainly don't all say 'Landan'. That's just wrong.

AnonNovember 24th 2009.

The NFM trustees ASKED manchester city council if they would take it over. Not the other way round.

AnonymousNovember 24th 2009.

hmmm...I'm beginning to think you're the kind of person that would say to an uncaring outside world: 'I'm from Solfod in Lankyshuh' or 'Hyde in Cheshire'Had dinner with a group of Brits last night two of whom were from London...according to them, not me.

AnonymousNovember 24th 2009.

although Liverpool could argue long and hard about the cultural side of things..... yeah, because a pop band came from there 40 years ago. Of course Manchester isn't arrogant, just that the rest of the North West are sheep shaggers.

CheesemanNovember 24th 2009.

Liverpool has the Biennial and lots of other top art events. Thank God we have MIF

AnonymousNovember 24th 2009.

This article is a muddle about what it means by 'Manchester' and the issues. The City of Manchester lost the Media City To Salford. It was a fight between Metro Councils. and remains how most things are decided since Thatcher abolished the County Council. Whether it benefits the Centre of Manchester that there are no 'national institutions on the other side of the Irwell is a moot point. though Manchester City failed to build a major civic arts centre and Salford did. Only now is it getting round to the obvious of providing a suitable theatre as a receiving house as well as a home for the library theatre. What is true the economic heart of the County lies in a 4km wide stretch between Dumplington and Newton Heath. There is apparent coordination to 'manage' this asset. As well as dissolving Greater Manchester Thatcher also put an end to the rather more grandiose new town/ region from Preston to Burnley. (though the motor way is there). Warrington which was all but completed just example of the result.

DaveNovember 24th 2009.

There's far more to Liverpool popular culture than the fab four but you wouldn't have thought so, after watching that showcase for the CoC08, with Ringo on the roof and all the old merseybeaters wheeled out etc. Anyway, Manchester must be unique to be so tribal about places within the same urban zone? Its not helpful. People I know who come from even quite suburban London boroughs like Croydon, Ealing, etc. all describe themselves as Londoners btw.

Cass O'NeilNovember 24th 2009.

I was in a taxi in Sale the other day and the driver on the radio said, I'm taking someone to Manchester as though it were another place far away. Unfortunately people are deeply provincial around here. In London the driver would have been taking me up west or some such. If he was in Wimbledon he wouldn't say taking me to London.

C 2 the GNovember 24th 2009.

Let’s get a few things straight! Salford is in Greater Manchester, therefore if I'm mistaken is part of the great city we live in. We are far superior to other dumps that they call cities such as Birmingham, Glasgow, and Newcastle!Are we an arrogant bully? NO!Would you say Brazil as a football team are arrogant bullies just because they go into every match confident of winning mmmmm I think not. Speaking of football and the recent victory for us Manc's on getting the National Football Museum I begin to wonder why they had it in Preston to begin with??? more people will come and visit this fantastic Museum for our national game now it’s in a decent City. We are a confident City on everything we offer! NOT bullies so let’s celebrate this great place we live.

AnonymousNovember 24th 2009.

Cass - yes I've noticed the same thing about the locals. When they say 'going to Manchester' they mean going to the city centre (only). People say this even in Didsbury or other City of Manchester places. Sounds weird to a non local like me. I always say 'going in to town' if I mean the city centre. 'Going to Manchester' is what you might say if you were in Sheffield of Liverpool. Just a colloquialism I think.

AnonymousNovember 24th 2009.


JonathanNovember 24th 2009.

And hello to you

The MimeNovember 24th 2009.


TerryNovember 24th 2009.

Good afternoon

An AlienNovember 24th 2009.

Greetings earthlings

EddieNovember 24th 2009.

Mancunians enjoy a little bit of success and affluence coming to "the area" and now we're arrogant bullies. Great! I personally don't care what people think about my home. I am proud of being a Manc and I know we have never had it easy as ordinary Mancunians. Why should we apologise for any recent successes?

KieranNovember 24th 2009.

There's nothing arrogant about making sure that the city is the best it can be, and if Manchester just happens to be the best place for something then so be it. Manchester is a loveable rouge which in recent years has had a shave, combed it's hair but still has that cheeky smile!

ady mNovember 24th 2009.

I think Manchester is arrogant, and you say it has the most money?? Liverpool has a much larger population and that is what determines the size of a city. So get of your high horses mancs!!

mrspg01November 24th 2009.

As well as Media city being in the city of Salford not Manchester wasn't Greater Manchester scrapped many years ago ?

lucky-chrisNovember 24th 2009.

Well, ady m, either Manchester ISN'T arrogant... making you wrong... or Manchester IS arrogant... meaning we don't care what you think in the slightest.

Jane HarleyNovember 24th 2009.

Greater Manchester exists in many forms through overview bodies for transport, health, policy and through it's police, fire and ambulance services. As a political entity it hasn't existed for 25 years which gives small-minded, closed perspective people like Mrspg01 his tidsy view of the world. As for population, Greater Manchester is 2.5m, Merseyside is 1.4m.

DescartesNovember 24th 2009.

I doubt anybody outside of the Salford border will think Media City is in Salford, to anybody outside of Manchester it's in.... Manchester. Certainly for the "what, the tube doesn't go that far" crowd from LANDAN TARN!

angri o chaddyNovember 24th 2009.

Arrogant ?? Totally re- invented , rejuvenated and replenished within 10 years of bomb devastation, and during those ten years, the people still so buoyant and smiling, that students and tourists from all over the world want to get here for a generous helping of manc ' savvy'. I defy any other city in the UK to be capable of this courage and resilience. So, ' arrogance , my arse', in the immortal words of the legendary Jim Royle, ha ha

scoteeeNovember 24th 2009.

Canary Wharf the financial centre of the Uk is in the regenerated east end of London and not many people complained that that wouldn't work either.I know the banks don't work but you know what I mean.I also discovered that wharf is short for WareHouse And River Front! GOD, is it home time yet?!

AnonymousNovember 24th 2009.

The new BBC stuff is in Salford?!!! Get your facts right, please.

Ali McGowanNovember 24th 2009.

1. Manchester is not arrogant, it's just better at marketing itself and has a bigger critical mass than other nearby towns. Wouldn't say it was a bully. 2. Can't remember what 2 was going to be. 3. Greater Mcr exists as a concept but was abolished as a legal entity in the 80s. More's the shame. The fact it is NOT officially Greater Manchester any more, means we see more in-fighting than we should. We should bring back GM, and have the concept of boroughs, as they do in London. Reckon loads could also be saved if each borough centralised its services - have one GM library service, one NHS service, like we have one GM fire service for example. Bet there's millions we could save. A more unified GM (maybe even just called Manchester and not Greater Manchester) would be an awesome concept and would mean we'd be a city of 2.whatever million it would be. London rarely refers to itself as Greater London any more - people just say London. 4. That was a lot of waffle. Sorry. I am from London - Wandsworth to be precise. Often I'll say London - then if asked 'where?' will say Wandsworth. Just as people from this area should say they're from Manc, then be more specific if asked. Of course, I'll now get lambasted for saying that... but whatever, if this great city region of ours is to flourish, we need to pull together, not pull ourselves apart. Blah. 5. I need a cup of Yorkshire Tea. Yes, Yorkshire. Eek!

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