Why City must win the title

assesses the Premier League title race and why a Manchester City win is the best outcome for the neutral

City boss Roberto Mancini celebrating their FA Cup win last season, Image: zawtowers via flickr Creative Commons

City boss Roberto Mancini celebrating their FA Cup win last season, Image: zawtowers via flickr Creative Commons

Manchester City face a resurgent Chelsea on Wednesday, looking to get back within a point of local rivals and league leaders Manchester United.

Having been top themselves for much of the season and clear favourites to win the title, City’s success has now come under question as United go through their usual end-of-season winning run. Sir Alex Ferguson’s side are in ominously ruthless form in the Premier League and have arguably the easier run-in, making a 20th league title look increasingly likely.

But, for the sake of the English football, I hope this doesn’t happen.

As far as allegiances are concerned, I’m completely neutral, holding no particular sympathy for either side. I just think it would be better for the neutrals like me if City win.

For starters, they’ve played some superb football this season – the wins at Old Trafford and White Hart Lane are probably as good as have been seen in the Premier League against such a calibre of opposition. United have played some good stuff too, but nothing on that scale – their season has been largely marked by the kind of functional narrow wins that are typical of champions, though there have been some clear exceptions.

Spurs have also been sensational at times, but their challenge has faded badly amid the speculation over Harry Redknapp’s future. In terms of consistently producing stylish and successful football, only Swansea can claim to have matched City this season.

David Silva has been brilliant, if overexerted, Sergio Aguero a revelation, and Mario Balotelli his usual enigmatic self. On top of that, they have probably the best defender and goalkeeper in the league in Vincent Kompany and Joe Hart. Whether you approve of how they acquired such talent or not, it is an unquestionably superb squad.

Contrast that to United’s squad; a reliance on two midfielders in their late-30s, no obvious first-choice keeper, and a long-term injury to their captain and defensive stalwart. Wayne Rooney may be world class, but I don’t see him inspiring United to glory in the same way that Eric Cantona or Cristiano Ronaldo did, not this season anyway.

Yet, they are top of the league, as they always seem to be at this time of year. When City were flying in the autumn, the Red Devils clung on thanks to a superb show of resilience and that has allowed them to gradually close the gap in terms of points and goal difference as City feel the heat.

Undoubtedly, it will be an extraordinary and commendable achievement if Ferguson can lead United to glory yet again. But it will be a serious indictment of the competition the Premier League has to offer; a Spurs side that have begun to fizzle out, Chelsea riddled with too many problems to mention here, Arsenal and Liverpool nowhere to be seen, and City unable to deliver on the promise shown for so long.

As Spain, Italy and Germany’s sides take the plaudits in Europe, the only solace fans of the Premier League can take is that our league has the best level of competition. Could we still claim that if United win again, and with a side that is not nearly as talented as previous models?

In the Premier League’s 20 year history, only four sides have lifted the trophy – United, Blackburn, Arsenal and Chelsea. United have 12 to their name, four times as many as the nearest challengers. Surely it’s time to add a fifth name to that list.

And while we deride Spain for being a two-team league, at least Barcelona and Real Madrid are world class teams capable of beating just about anyone else. If this United side win, then what will it say for the quality we have on these shores?

City are meant to be the successors, if only because they have the financial means to become so. But if they can’t win it now, with United in transition, then when will they? Financial Fair Play will soon level the economic playing field, and why would someone choose to join City over any of their rivals if they don’t have the domestic or European title credentials to back up their cash.

This is the best chance City will get to cement a place at the top of the English game and ensure their progression on the field can continue. And if they can do that, they might just drag everyone else along with them.

The Premier League needs City to win, or we risk falling behind in terms of quality and credibility.

3 comments

  1. 20 Mar ’12 at 10:27 am

    Football is life. Life is Football

    Very interesting read, but I can’t say I I agree!

    If we’re talking about the good of the league then someone like Spurs, Villa, Everton or Newcastle should win it. A club with loyal support and a hard work ethic would be good for the premiership. City has an enduring support sure, but any hard work ethic remains questionable.

    I wouldn’t mind City winning it, if they hadn’t bought it. I know this sounds a fairly standard argument and you can always counter it with what about Chelsea? But remember, Chelsea were an “almost” club before the cash injection. City were nothing, massive underachievers with mediocre players. There has been no hard graft, just a mercenary mentality that has seen “grown” players from other clubs be shamelessly headhunted and made part of some unholy cash fuelled leviathan, that threatens to take the morality away from English football.

    Granted City have been able to attract world class talents we mhave not otherwise seen, such as Sergio Aguero or David Silva, but really they are a fundamentally dislikeable club.

    They ruin careers (Wayne Bridge), alienate former stars (Emanuel Adebayor) and are unscrupulous in their transfer targets (Samir Nasri).

    Chelsea might have bought the league too, but they didn’t do it at the expense of other English teams.

    Having said all that the smugness of Man Utd winning title number 20, might not be the best alternative!

  2. 20 Mar ’12 at 11:03 am

    Dom Mckinnon Green

    Come on City!

  3. Contrast that to United’s squad; a reliance on two midfielders in their late-30s, no obvious first-choice keeper, and a long-term injury to their captain and defensive stalwart. Wayne Rooney may be world class, but I don’t see him inspiring United to glory in the same way that Eric Cantona or Cristiano Ronaldo did, not this season anyway.

    Rewritten:

    Two midfielders in their 30s who are still putting in stellar performances, a young goalkeeper who’s 20 and has been putting in outstanding performances recently and a team that’s still managing to win with a poor defense. Wayne Rooney doesn’t need to inspire United to glory, they’re doing that themselves.

    Personally, I think it would be terrible if City won the league. United have spent virtually nothing in comparison and their arrogance is well earned. I don’t think you can separate how they acquired the players from your judgement of the team!

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