Sunday, February 26, 2012

City piling on pressure on United: Can the champions keep pace with the league leaders?

Many United fans won't like to acknowledge it, but it is beginning to look like a case of WHEN and not IF Manchester City will be crowned champions. Truth be told, our 'noisy neighbours' have been playing like champions elect all season, and whisper this quietly, some of their football has been sublime at times. David Silva will justifiably win the Players' Player of the Year and the Football Writers' Player of the Year. Why, oh why didn't Manchester United ever make a bid to sign Silva? Only Ferguson can answer that question. We could ask the same question about Aguero too.

While giving our time-honoured bitter rivals credit, we know that City have become nothing more than a 'rich-man's play thing' and should their Arabian owners ever grow tired of throwing endless amounts of money at what was hitherto a hopeless lost cause, they will return to their previous 'also-ran' status in short order.

It's a totally different scenario where United and the Glazer family are concerned. United were a cash rich club before being taken over in 2005 by the loathsome Floridian family. It is one of the greatest ironies, that it was precisely because United were so strong financially, which in turn allowed the Glazers' to leverage a debt mountain onto the club.

In sharp contrast to the ownership regime at City, if the Glazers' ever sold out to someone who could actually afford the asking price without borrowing on a sickening scale, the said owner would make a fortune, because United, despite their debt concerns, are still a prodigious money making machine. In other words, in contrast to City, United would prosper should the Glazers' ever sell out: We will never say that about the prospect of City's owners walking away.

For now, even the most die-hard red cannot argue that Mancini has spent wisely and he's built a formidable squad. As far as the title race is concerned, with 13 games still to play, quite obviously, it isn't yet over - the Fat Lady hasn't sung, but for sure, she's been heard clearing her throat in anticipation.

Should Manchester United fail to win away at Norwich and Spurs the battle for the Premier League trophy will more than likely be all but lost; from that point onwards Ferguson and everyone connected with United will almost certainly start to mentally prepare to finish as runner-up (if indeed that isn't the case already - we have to believe that is NOT the case, nor should it be).

Realistically, City don't look like a team who are going to drop many points between now and the end of the season - that is the blunt truth of the matter.

United have put up a pretty good fight thus far: that is the champions have apart from a few notable exceptions; the shameful 6-1 derby reverse and losing at home to Blackburn.

The absolute doomsday scenario for United fans, is that City will be effectively crowned champions when the two teams meet in the derby at Eastlands at the end of April.

As ever, there is of course another more hopeful scenario: United could go on to win at Norwich and at Spurs, the champions then edge out City in a tightly fought derby and go on to retain the title. If that happens it will be among Ferguson's finest achievements and it will likely bring down the curtain on his glittering career, but will it happen?

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