Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Once in a Blue Moon
Football (or soccer if you'd prefer) is not generally considered to be a game of momentum. While a team can build an element of sustained pressure, the counter attack and long ball are equally viable options and can be used to devastating effect. Contrast this to, say, American Football or Rugby where teams drive and battle for field position and you will see my point.
That being said, one couldn't help but notice a potentially significant shift in momentum last night in Manchester, not in a single game, but in an entire sport. It is of course hyperbole to suggest that City will surpass local rivals United in this or future seasons but last night's game evidenced that, at least, this could happen. The state of the two clubs finances could not be much different with City owner Sheikh Mansour continuing to plow millions into the Blue side of the city while the Red side face the prospect of their owners making a cash withdrawal.
The case is perfectly illustrated by the Tevez saga, after the Argentinian bagged both goals in City's 2-1 win tonight. The natural argument raging across the forums is Tevez v Berbatov but with Ronaldo gone and no other big name arrivals in the summer the real argument in Tevez v Owen (United's replacement for Tevez in the summer). One has to feel that in days gone by, if Ferguson wanted to Tevez this summer the board would have paid up the £25m to maintain at least 3 legs of United's deadly foursome from last year's successful campaign. But no, Ferguson - at least in hindsight - was forced to choose Berbatov over Tevez and whether this was right or not it is a decision that he is not used to taking. Mancini on the other hand is unlikely to have to make such choices and while the transfer activity has been slow so far, one feels City will be able to bring in at least one more difference maker before we reach February.
City currently lie 5th, level on points with Spurs and well placed to capture a Champions League spot. This, along with potential success in the Carling Cup and perhaps the FA Cup too could give Mancini an even sturdier platform from where to launch transfer raids across Europe and we could see City's squad reformed once again before turning their attention to the top of the league next year.
Even if the the unthinkable happened and City challenged and indeed won a title in the next couple of years, this would not in itself be all that significant for United's legacy. The Reds have won 11 of the 17 Premier League titles along with 2 Champions League crowns and domestic cup success, far eclipsing the accomplishments of old rivals Liverpool and new challengers like the once free spending Chelsea. Note however, the achievements of the clubs below:
Club A: 12 league titles, 9 FA Cups
Club B: 1 league title (1955), 3 FA Cups
Club C: 18 league titles, 11 FA Cups
Club D: 2 league titles (last in 1968), 4 FA Cups
Clubs A and B are Arsenal and Chelsea before Roman Abramovich took control of the club in 2003 while clubs C and D are United and City at present day. Since the takeover Chelsea have added two league titles, two FA cups and reached the Champions League final while Arsenal have a single FA Cup and won the league in the year Abramovich bought Chelsea (before his spending kicked in). The task at hand for Chelsea was not quite as large as that facing City but consider that Arsenal's finances have been solid in this period even if not on the level's on their West London rivals. If United are forced into a position where purchases are made on the cheap then they could be joining one of their other old rivals - Liverpool - at the wrong end of the top 4.