by Kieran Davies
All around the country Manchester United fans are clinging on to the stats comparing the starts all their great managers made at Old Trafford. This gives them hope that this is just a blip and dominance is just around the corner again as Moyes’ record betters Ferguson’s. Reality check people, football tends to have eras of dominance, you are part of the end of Manchester United’s. Old Trafford was a fortress under Fergie but now it is looking more akin to Stonehenge. Teams are coming to Old Trafford with no fear and beating the home side regularly something that was never really seen under Fergie. Honest United fans are starting to realise that their squad is average at best with a few exceptions.
The truth is when Cristiano Ronaldo left the club you lost a 30+ goals a season striker, a dead ball specialist and someone who would contribute 20+ assists throughout the course of the season. None of these three areas were adequately strengthened. Since the Portuguese players departure the squad has had a lot of average players but Fergie had the unique ability to get these players to play beyond their potential. No other manager in world football possesses this same trait let alone David Moyes. Without the successful Scot at the helm and current media coverage of their fall from grace, they will struggle to get the best talent to Old Trafford irrelevant to the funds available.
As far as the spells of dominance we have seen in the past where certain clubs win league titles year after year I think these days are behind us. With the investment in all Premier League clubs this is by far the most competitive league in the world. As we are seeing this season realistically it’s anyone’s league and there are currently around eight pretenders to the throne.
Seasons now hinge on a new signing who takes to the league like a duck to water, keeping players from the clutches of clubs who think they are playing Football Manager in ‘Arab owners’ mode or a few shining talents from the academy stepping up to the plate on the big stage. That’s how fine the differences are between squads at different clubs now. This is a positive and even with Chelsea and Man City’s hardest efforts to turn the transfer window into a remake of Brewster’s Millions they haven’t got the expected silverware to show for it. Both these clubs will take heart in their wins over Liverpool over the Christmas schedule but with the league as tight as it is now, Liverpool now have the enviable fixture list which will see Chelsea, Arsenal, Man City, Everton and Tottenham all having to come to Anfield. Add to that the lack of European football and this title race isn’t as cut and dry as most will have you believe.
Everton too have a less hectic fixture schedule and we could see both Merseyside clubs make a big push for Champions League football. Imagine how this would upset the apple cart if both Liverpool and Everton secured a top 4 finish it would leave 50% of the supposed ‘top 4 teams’ with a very bitter taste in their mouth and no doubt heads would roll. This is a more realistic outcome than many will think.
Spurs have made some positive steps since the appointment of Sherwood and he was very intelligent in how he got himself the manager’s post. Win a couple of games and say you don’t want the job as you’re happy with your current role and force the hand of your employer, GENIUS!
It still may prove a hasty decision as Sherwood has never managed before and let’s be honest this isn’t Roy of the Rovers and it’s rare to see such rags to riches stories. Even if he does succeed in the role the biggest obstacle he has seems to be this squad which still hasn’t bedded together. If you type Andy Carroll into a translation tool and ask it to translate this into Spanish it will give you Erik Lamela! He seems to be looking for a way out of White Hart Lane quicker than 70s music show host on the news that Jimmy Saville’s has had his hard drive seized. It will be interesting to see how the season pans out for Tim’s side with Defoe leaving as well as they have to juggle trips to the corners of Europe in the hunt for Europa League glory with trying to compete for that elusive second season in the Champions League. Elsewhere in London Sam Allardyce must be running out of ‘get out of jail’ free cards with the West Ham hierarchy and I think defeat to Cardiff City this weekend could seal the deal for Sam’s fate and he faces a tough test even with a full strength squad against Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men in his first game in front of the home faithful.
Man City have looked pretty daunting at home this season but have such an obvious Achilles heel in the shape of their away form. Newcastle should give them a stern test providing they bring their ‘a-game’ with an in form Cabaye and Remy amongst others. It’s a question whether Pellegrini is that inept away from home or whether we are now blessed with a league that is that competitive that any of 20 teams are capable of pulling off an upset against any other side. We should see an answer to that question with this weekend’s fixtures as Hull take on Chelsea and Swansea travel to Old Trafford looking to repeat their FA Cup exploits. Arsenal travel to Villa which should be a routine win given Villa’s poor form in front of their own fans.
I’ve been to see a game at Villa Park and was amazed how quickly the home fans turned on their team and booed them off the pitch at half time with the score at 0-0 in the game I was watching. Bizarre support. The transfer window has been as hectic as a suntan lotion salesman in the US so far so we can hope that things ramp up a bit with ACTUAL transfer movement and not just gossip that is the brainchild of some halfwit with a laptop and the memory of a goldfish clutching at the most unfathomable potential deals that can only be likened to the ISF announcing their new offices will be based in Jerusalem! Well we live in hope.