Less than 24 hours have passed since those ridiculous 4 minutes at the Etihad Stadium and I’m already sick of the image of the oh-so unlikeable Roberto Mancini holding the Premier League trophy. Naturally, I have turned to the art of writing to offload some emotion, and now just need to avoid including expletives in this article.
It wasn’t too long ago that United fans were celebrating the inevitable prospect of a 20th league title, and with City falling 8 points behind after a loss at Arsenal, the plans were being put in place for a United street parade. Those plans were halted however after a loss at the in-form Wigan, followed by a disastrous self-destruction at home to Everton. Still the enigmatic Mancini was insisting City were out of the title race. Then United travelled the short distance to the Etihad for the derby to end all derbies, and as many predicted, it was City who won the game and took charge of the title.
A valiant effort from a fighting Queens Park Rangers side almost gifted United the trophy, until English football’s baddest bad boy had yet another moment of madness. So at the end of the day, an ex-Manchester City player costs United the title. If it wasn’t so typical of Joey Barton, one might be tempted to call it match-fixing.
The one thing that numbs the pain ever so slightly is the fact that we have 19 league titles, and a history steeped in tradition. When someone asks me to name United legends I instantly recall; Robson, Charlton, Best, Scholes, Giggs and Neville. Who have City got? What makes me so bitter about City winning the league is the fact that before Sheikh Mansour took over the club, they were a middle of the road team at best. After 1 billion pounds of investment in facilities, staff and players, City have a league trophy to show for it. With United, there is a sense of pride when a player who has spent many of his young years being trained at United breaks into the first team. Tom Cleverley and Danny Welbeck are a couple of recent examples. As a United fan, if you’d told me a couple of years ago that I’d find a team I hate more than Liverpool, I would have had a laugh at your expense. Step up and take a bow Mancini, Tevez, Balotelli and co.
Anyone can see that United are going to have to invest in the squad this summer to avoid being left behind by Manchester City, who are sure to ship out some players and bring in even better ones. United’s long term transfer target, Eden Hazard who, along with Neymar, is probably the most coveted young player in Europe, is one who is looking likely to choose City over United. If City do sign him, it will certainly be a cruel blow to Sir Alex Ferguson and United fans. One player who looks certain to arrive is Shinji Kagawa from Dortmund, but the question remains, where will he play? Sir Alex has recently stated he is not going to invest in a holding midfielder so the 4-4-2 and 4-5-1 formations that United employ look set to stay for the forseeable future.
Aside from central midfield, I would love to see United invest in two new fullbacks. It is time for Ferguson to take the hard line and accept that Patrice Evra hasn’t been United quality for a while now. Leighton Baines and Jordi Alba are two options who have been mentioned and both are in the 10-15 million pound brice bracket. I believe United also need to purchase a specialist right back. Phil Jones and Chris Smalling were surely signed first and foremost as central defenders and Rafael (the first choice and only specialist right back) was dumped for the derby because he lacks the temperament. Smalling plays admirably at right back but has had ongoing injury problems, and Jones hasn’t looked in good touch since Christmas. The impressive Kyle Walker has recently extended his contract with Tottenham, so perhaps someone like Gregory van der Wiel or Łukasz Piszczek could be an option. It’s a pity we didn’t sign Micah Richards when we had the chance a few years ago.
So, it pains me to say it but Manchester City are champions of England (and Wales), and admittedly we are all a little jealous of City’s celebrations today. Sir Alex Ferguson is going to have to act quickly again this Summer if he wants to avoid being gazumped on his transfer targets. It should be an interesting summer ahead.
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