There is a new name on the Premier League
trophy and United are no longer the only team in Manchester with bragging
rights. Now cried-out eyes turn to a wild and uncertain future for the Red
Devils and Alex Ferguson.
The 2011-12 Premier League was as close as
close could be and the way the scores were at 90 minutes in United and City’s
matches, the Citizens looked like they'd blown it. Then came possibly the most
exciting and significant 90 seconds in Premier League history when City turned
a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 victory and changed the course of footballing history.
While losing a title on goal difference is
hardly a thrashing and Manchester United set a new record for most points in a
38-game Premier League season (without winning the title) a loss is still a
loss and the $64 million question is now how will they deal with the (very
real) threat of the Noisy Neighbours pulling off a footballing coup d’état.
Singing when you're winning
The first thing that the Manchester United
fans will have to do, will be to rewrite several of their anti-City songs to
reflect the Blues’ reversal of fortunes; “Tevez
is his name and he won’t be winning trophies anymore,” and “City is their name, and they’ve won flip all,”
will have to be mothballed, the terrace favourite “Let's all laugh at City, Ha, ha, ha, ha!” will be difficult to
muster enthusiasm for, and as for “We're
the pride of Manchester!”…
But do bet on musical riffs relating to the
number of titles United have won by comparison, nineteen, n-n-n-n-nineteen.
Close but no cigar
Off the terraces and on the pitch, there is
very little for Manchester United fans to complain about. It's not as if their
players didn't perform this season, even though many soccer pundits have described
them as a below par United, they were still 19 points ahead of third placed
United let in 33 goals this season while
City let in 29. But, before that makes you think that United should splash out
and tighten their defence, you should know that last season they conceded 37
goals and still finished nine points clear of City, what's more the last time
that United failed to win the league they let in even fewer goals, conceding
just 28 (in 2009 – 10 season when they finished one point behind Chelsea).
Buy Buy or Bye-Bye
Ahead of the Sunderland game Alex Ferguson
made an effort to point out the financially uneven playing field that everyone
has to compete on against City, claiming they "pay stupid money and silly
salaries". "No-one can match their financial resources, no-one,"
Ferguson said through his gum, "We have to accept that and try to do
things in a different way. We are not like other clubs who can spend fortunes
on proven goods. We invest in players, who will create the character of the
club. We are good at that and we are going to continue that way."
Still it’s a case of stump up (the cash) or
shut up in the summer
Manchester United chief executive David
Gill insists they have the funds to challenge for the title next season
"Funds are available without a doubt," said Gill, "We can still
pay very well in terms of wages and transfer fees”, and Fergie already has an
eye on three players, who should help United retain the title (something that
is at 2/1 on the odds board)
The gum chewing managerial behemoth has
already been linked with Borussia Dortmund duo Shinji Kagawa and Robert (the
Big) Lewandowski; and Lille midfielder Eden Hazard is on his radar, although
City are also poised to make a move for the £30m-rated talent. Where Hazard goes
may be very symbolic as to where the future of footballing glory lies in
Not quite RIP Fergie, regardless of what
Tevez’s banner said
But if you fancy a LOL bet you should know
that Fergie is 100/1 to do a Tevez and cross the city (and be Manchester City’s
next permanent manager). Should Fergie leave, for any reason (although I can’t
see him bowing out on anything less than a title winning season) Pep Guardiola
is the bookies favourite at 4/1 to be the next Manchester Utd manager. There is
also Junior (that’s Alex’s son) Duncan Ferguson in the mix at 200/1, while
amongst the Old Trafford old boys; Roy Keane is at 40/1, Steve Bruce is at 33/1
and the manager whose current side allowed City those last minute goals, Mark
Hughes is at 20/1 to take up the United reigns.
The bookies have already picked their
favourite for next season’s title, and it’s not United. City are 5/4 to win
back to back titles, but let’s leave the last words to Sir Alex, "It will
take them a century to get our level of history."
Prediction: City make inroads on that
century from the first kick of next season.