As a Manchester United fan, it’s incredibly worrying to hear that this year United have become the media and bookie’s favourites to lift the Premier League title. I implore all of you, please look elsewhere: Chelsea have a brilliant new manager André Villas-Boas and they’ve just signed Mata, Fernando Torres might even score. Manchester City have now amassed over double the net-spend over United in 4 years than United have since 1992(£381.90 for City since 2008, £183.36m for United since 1992). They’ve already bought the title. Don’t make us favourites, please.
Of course, I do actually think Manchester United will win the league again this year, but even though I consider myself hugely anti-supposition but The Guardian Curse clearly bends and twists logic and the known ways of the universe.
To explain The Guardian Curse: The Guardian have made a habit of predicting a Chelsea league win each time Manchester United have won it from 2006. Their only deviation since then from predicting Chelsea to win the title was back in 2010 when they went for Liverpool – of course, Chelsea won it that year. Now this year they’ve gone for United and it’s very unsettling for any Manchester United fan to hear.
If the Guardian’s choosing Manchester United ensures that the title goes to neither United or Chelsea then I’ll be personally rounding up all the Guardian’s writers and keeping them in a tank like my very own Paul the Octopus only with more cleaning up to do afterward. It seems the title is heading to the blue side of Manchester or possibly to Liverpool. Probably not Arsenal though, The Guardian Curse isn’t that strong.
It’s understandable why The Guardian and the rest of the media would go for United of course. The signings of David de Gea, Phil Jones and Ashley Young are improvements to the squad, with Gary Neville, Paul Scholes and Edwin Van Sar all retiring last season for the most part replacements have been found. Sure, Paul Scholes can’t ever be replaced but even should Tom Cleverley not make the grade at Old Trafford, Sir Alex Ferguson has proven, against the common logic, that games aren’t always won through who has the best midfield. Unless maybe when you’re playing Barcelona, anyway.
The kind of thinking that even when knowing there’s probably a big area of United’s team that isn’t the strongest compared to the other contenders and that yet still Sir Alex Ferguson knows best and can turn that team into winners is not what a United fan would expect from journalists. The “Trust Fergie” attitude has usually been the mantra of most Manchester United fans and the fact that it’s spreading out now is worrying. Maybe now we shouldn’t trust Fergie anymore? Fergie Out!
Of course, I jest, but if I were a neutral viewer looking at the clubs, squads and managers I personally would come up with Manchester City as favourites for the title this year.
It seems now less likely that Carlos Tévez will be moving, with time running out on any deal as the transfer window has around about 10 days left to go. Add to that the brilliant talents of David Silva and Sergio Agüero and, even if Roberto Mancini wants to play 3 defensive midfielders all the time, it’s an attack force that can win any match single handily. Not to mention Mario Balotelli and Edin Džeko.
You could also look at Chelsea have brought in the services of André Villas-Boas, the manager who did it all with Porto last season in spectacular style. The promising signings of Juan Mata, Romelu Lukaku and Oriol Romeu adds greater depth and potential for the future in the their squad. Fernando Torres also teased that he could well return to his old self. Of course, going against Chelsea this year is The Guardian’s prediction of a Manchester United win. Only when Liverpool are predicted to win will they stand a chance – perhaps they should cheer on Liverpool this year for a certain win next year.
So how about Liverpool then? They have certainly spent their money since January; it helps to be given £50,000,000 for Fernando Torres of course. It doesn’t help the total spending figure when they’ve signed British players. English players in particular cost about 3x as much as they should do. It’s a clever signing like José Enrique though for a mere £5,500,000 that can have a greater impact to a squad.
When you look at every team’s squads then Manchester City certainly have the beating of other teams. The likes of Vincent Kompany, Yaya Touré, and Nigel de Jong are able to fully make up for their attacking impetuous. Perhaps the most important thing too, is their squad size and depth. Players who would be pivotal parts of teams beneath them, for example Adam Johnson and Gaël Clichy have to fight for their place on the bench, let alone in the first team.
The only thing then that seems to make Manchester United truly the favourites is their winning mentality. Yes, of course there’s some brilliant players at the club too; Wayne Rooney, Nemanja Vidić and Chicharito amongst others, but when you look at the two squads pound for pound, it’s probably not as good as the one City’s have bought..
Except for one major problem for City, Sir Alex Ferguson. It’s a huge boost for a team to have one of the greatest ever managers if not the very greatest. It’s what won Manchester United the league last year and it’s what instills the fighting spirit into every player that makes them never give up resulting in plenty of late winners or equalisers. It’s hard not to think that if any other of the top contenders had Sir Alex as their manager last then they’d probably have won it instead. He makes the ultimate difference and he can almost certainly win another league title. Again.