December 05, 2011 by
It has often been seen in the past that Manchester United usually begin their surge towards winning the Premier League at around this time of year. Last season was a little different; they began well and maintained their form for most of the season, winning an unprecedented 12th title for their venerable boss, Sir Alex Ferguson. The great man also guided United to their third final in four years in the Champions League and although they were well beaten by Barcelona, it was nonetheless a great achievement.
Whilst he continued his winning ways at Old Trafford last year, he was no doubt casting an eye across Manchester to neighbours, Manchester City, who have been spending huge amounts of money on putting together a team that would be capable of topping Sir Alex and his Man Utd team’s dominance and it looks like this season could be the first that the power in Manchester final shifts towards the blue half.
Sir Alex has also spent money in the past 12 months, bring in amongst others, Ashley Young, David De Gea in goal and Phil Jones. He has also introduced Danny Welbeck and talented midfieder, Tom Cleverley from the youth team.
There was no bigger smile in football, when Sir Alex walked off the Wembley pitch back in August with a tenth Charity Shield having seen his team bounce back from a two goal deficit and defeat City 3-2 in what was more than a just curtain raiser to the current season. That win spoke volumes of what football is all about to Sir Alex; winning against your major rivals is a huge motivator for the man who has been at Manchester United since 1986 regardless of what is at stake. It was one-upmanship at its absolute best and it gave United a huge lift as the new season got underway the following week, for which they were favourites to win the Premier League crown once again.
Five wins from five Premiership games followed, including that now famous 8-2 massacre of Arsenal at Old Trafford, which was followed a week later by a 5-0 thrashing of Bolton. United were riding a ‘crest of a wave’ and Sir Alex was clearly putting it up to City in no uncertain terms. City however also went on an unbeaten; moreover, they were improving with every game under boss Roberto Mancini.
Then of course came the real showdown on 23rd October at Old Trafford when United, still in very confident mood entertained City for a match that was all about deciding Premier League supremacy at that time. The result of course will celebrated for years at the Etihad Stadium as not only did City gain revenge for the Charity Shield reverse, they took United apart, running out 6-1 winners; a result that had previously been unheard of in a Manchester Derby at the “Theatre of Dreams”.
Worse still for Sir Alex was that result appears to have knocked the resolve from the team who are no longer playing with their early season verve and they have also had a dip in Champions League form. City meanwhile have a taken a commanding lead in the Premiership where they are still unbeaten in 14 games in which they have amassed an incredible tally of 48 goals.
United’s season could reach the depths of despair this week, should they lose to Basel in their final game in the group stages in the Champions League. The Swiss side were good enough to snatch a 3-3 draw with the at Old Trafford in September and know that they have a great chance of causing a major upset.
With United already out of the Carling Cup and struggling to keep up with Man City in the league, many are questioning whether Ferguson’s time at Old Trafford is fast coming to an end. He turns 70 at the end of this month and whilst that will no doubt ignite more reminiscing about what he’s achieved in 25 years at the club, there is no getting away from the fact that that if he chooses to stick around a while longer, he could be facing the biggest battle to date and maybe the best thing he could do is allow the search for the next Manchester United manager to begin ready for him stepping down as the task of overhauling City’s emerging dominance does not look like a short term task!