The red half of Manchester are finally happier than the blue half, perhaps for the first time in the 2011/2012 season. United reaching the top of the table has inevitably sparked debates and media coverage all over the football world. The point I’m making in this post is that we’re so used to united topping the table that the achievement of them finally overtaking big-spenders Man City has been completely overshadowed and even ignored.
The obvious point to be made here is the two clubs’ capabilities in the transfer market. City’s spending over the past few years has set a new and in my opinion unwelcome precedent when it comes to building a title-challenging squad. Money has been thrown at the City team left, right and centre – easy to see when you consider the players sitting on City’s bench and playing in their reserves. The idea of Edin Dzeko sitting on the bench constantly and the Carlos Tevez “situation” help make my point before I even mention Nasri, Milner…the list goes on. I wont accuse City of trying to “buy” the title. You need that kind of quality when you consider the threat that United pose. Now I’m not saying that United don’t spend any money. De Gea was a big buy and Fergie’s big team also have some big names finding themselves on the bench (Berbatov for example), but the difference is that united dont rely on the transfer market for their players. How refreshing to see so many products of Manchester United still in the setup; Scholes back, Giggs still coming up with the goods, Evans coming into his own at centre back and the likes of Welbeck, Pogba, Rafael and Fabio finding themselves in a Man U shirt. Lets look at Smalling and Jones as signings too, young Englishmen who Man City would have happily bought and stuck on the bench, finding themselves integral parts of a title challenge at United, and performing at an extraordinary level for the most part, while still learning their trade. United buy potential, City buy players who have reached the top elsewhere. I know which of these strategies improves clubs and FOOTBALL long term. It’s not just a case of United spending less, but spending better than their rivals.
The next point to make is injuries. Every club has them, and it can be how well you cope with them that makes the difference come the end of the season. City haven’t been without them, but United have been hard hit with the injuries of two of their most influential players, Vidic and Fletcher, both out long term. When City have lost the likes of Kompany this season they have struggled immensely in spite of the depth in their high-value squad. United have coped valiantly, bringing fringe-players, RETIRED players and academy products into the fold, surely a blueprint that more clubs should follow?
United are a huge team, and have a huge amount of resources. Of course we expect them to win after so many years of seeing them dominate. The injuries and competition they’ve faced in recent seasons though, makes their topping of the premier league all the more impressive, something we aren’t giving them enough credit for. Ferguson continues to develop future England internationals and aid the growth of English football, something that can’t be said for a lot of the big teams up there, and karma has served them with a deserved place at the top of the table. I think most people in football would love to see new teams competing for the Premiership, we are here to be entertained after all, but surely nobody could argue that relatively small-spenders Manchester United deserve yet more silverware considering their brilliant efforts in testing times.
For more Football articles and Former Footballer Profiles, check out Ben’s Football Blog, The North Stand. Please leave a comment, I’ll try and respond to all, debate is what it’s all about after all!