Invisible Man

Invisible Man

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Manchester: The new epicentre of English Football?

14/5/2011: 14:30 - Manchester United win their 19th League Title (to over take Liverpool).

14/5/2011: 16:50 - Manchester City win FA Cup final (their first trophy in 35 years).

Not bad. 

The last time both Manchester Clubs had reason to be so joyous in the same season was 1999. Two last minute goals clinched Manchester United the Champion League Final against Bayern Munich. Similarly two last minute goals by Manchester City saw them take Tony Pulis Gillingham to penalties and see promotion from Division 2.

If you'd told both City and United fans what would unfold 11 years later then you'd have experienced open mouths and disbelief from both sets of fans, for very different reasons!

However today will be one which will live long in the memory perhaps not only for Manchester, but maybe for English football on the whole.

Ferguson, the wily old manager, yet again observed Manchester United demonstrate that 'never say die spirit' which they have demonstrated so often throughout the Scot's tenure. United came from behind against relegation threatened Blackburn to snatch a 1-1 draw, courtesy of a Wayne Rooney penalty (below), which saw United grab the point they needed for that coveted 19th league title.

Once again the turning point for United was the two old inspirational heads of Giggs and Scholes, combining to turn United's fortunes. It was the resilience of Vidic at the back and the introduction of mid-field maestro Scholes which added much needed stability in United's mid-field and it was the pin-point ball from Giggs which sent Hernandez tumbling under the challenge of keeper' Robinson, only for Rooney to convert to send United fans into ecstasy.

For City and Mancini, 228 miles away at Wembley, it was a similar resilient performance that saw him end the club's 35 year wait for a trophy, courtesy of a emphatic finish from Yaya Toure. Much like Manchester United, it was the reliable spine of Manchester City's team which propelled the team to victory. 

Joe Hart (above), who broke the clubs record for clean sheets at Wembley, showed strong command of his area even under long throw/ball bombardment and also made a crucial save from Jones mid-way through the second half which proved a catalyst for City's cup triumph. Vincent Kompany once again provided a defensive masterclass, mid-field enforcer Nigel De Jong broke down almost every Stoke attack and David Silva provided a magical touch, and showed great composure to set up the goal.

Although Ferguson had the luxury of picking a slightly weakened team for Mancini it was all about getting it right, and he did. Balotelli, who is never far away from a tabloid headline or booking was perfectly well behaved (he even asked politely if he could swear on ITV) and had his best game to date in a City shirt. 

This surely guarantees Mancini place not only his place in the City hot seat next year, but also in the hearts and memories of Manchester City fans, much the same way Ferguson had written himself into Manchester United folklore many years ago.

Between them both Manchester United and their Blue counter parts have enjoyed reasonable success over their over 'top 4' rivals. United enjoyed success over both Arsenal and Chelsea in the league (and the latter in the Champions League). City on the over hand have succeed in gatecrashing the top four and have still fixed their sights on catching Arsenal to finish 3rd.

City will no doubt strengthen considerably in the summer. United on the other hand have a more than promising squad developing, which may see a few key additions (e.g. a goalkeeper) over the summer. What the other title chasers will do is yet to be seen.

United have a proven track record of winning and for City the clique 'the first is the hardest to win' will be true. The two Manchester clubs will now face up again at Wembley in the Community shield. That may not be the only time the two Manchester clubs lead the fight for silverware next year.

For Arsenal and Chelsea? A season of emptiness.

London and mid-lands: Be envious.


  1. I am not sure that the endless throwing of money at a team succeeds ... if it did then Chelski would already have won seven straight titles, seven straight FA Cups and seven straight European Cups!

    Maybe Real Madrid, or Barcelona or AC or Inter Milan would also have achieved a similar feat?

    My point being that, if this idea really worked, then it would have already been tried and seen to succeed .... it has, and it hasn't worked.

    The nearest analogy to the idea that Manchester will dominate English football is the Liverpool of the 1980's, or Milan at various times.

    Nihil Est Aeternum

  2. Hi there,

    I think the idea of throwing money at a team is to create a team which is consistently successful and continually competitive. Although Chelsea haven't won everything, but they have won every major domestic honour and been a permanent fixture in the latter stages of the Champions League.

    None of that would have happened if it wasn't for Abramovich. I suppose 'success' is subjective, but at the moment Chelsea are in their most successful period of their history, i think many would view that as successful

    The same could be argued of Madrid, they bankrolled and bough players like Zidane, Figo, Roberto Carlos, Ronaldo x2, and they went on to win quite a bit of silverware. AC Milan have spent big recently on players like Robinho and Ibrahimovic and they have won the title.

    City, having being bankrolled, have now ended 35 years wait for a trophy. I would argue there is a significant correlation between being bankrolled and success.

    United will continue to be successful as long as Sir Alex Ferguson is in charge (much like Liverpool were under Dalgleish, Paisley and Shankley).....after that, who knows?

  3. I don't think anyone could argue that you can buy a trophy, Blackburn and Chelsea have proved that. However, to then turn it in to world or domestic dominance is another matter.

    Blackburn under Jack Walker for example, set world and domestic transfer records, won one title, but then without millions more being continually thrown at them, subsided to mediocrity and may even have been relegated this season.

    Chelsea, after an initial surge under 'the special one' (following a moderately successful spell under Vialli and Gullit), stopped winning until Abramovic was forced to put his hand in his pocket again. They may have to do so yet again this summer.

    Real and Barca are effectively underpinned by the Spanish and Catalan governments, so never go under, despite being technically bankrupt every few years (last time Real's car park was bought by the Madrid council for euro 300m), then rented back!

    So, this begs the question, can Man City buy sustainable success by throwing upwards of £600m of another countries oil wealth, into the club? Or will it, like Blackburn, and to some extent Chelsea, only be sustainable while the money keeps flowing?