Majority of the journalists and bloggers had tipped Manchester City as the firm favourites to win the title or at least finish above Manchester United this season. It was obvious though. For the first time in the history of Premier League, Manchester United will be without their legendary Sir Alex Ferguson – skepticism are bound to exist.
However, it is not his departure that holds the key for such predictions but what mattered was who replaced the great man. Frankly, had Jose Mourinho been installed as Ferguson’s successor, critics would have hardly given second thoughts about potential title winner while writing their prediction columns. But David Moyes? The man who didn’t win a single trophy at Everton? Even his staunchest supporters would have found hard to put money on him straight away.
On the other hand, City have replaced Roberto Mancini with a brilliant manager from Malaga, Manuel Pellegrini. A top foreign import, a tactically astute man, with a great CV – surely he would guide City to League title at a canter.
Further City had a rocking time in the summer transfer window, which had an influence while making the predictions. When Manchester United were messing with their potential transfer targets and firing at wrong areas one after another, City moved swiftly and quickly for their main targets and landed them, without making any fuss.
Pellegrini was so confident that he even claimed to have the best squad in the country. But, after four games in the league, the picture shows something different.
City were handed an easy set of fixtures to deal with. They should have picked maximum points by now and relax comfortably at the top of the table. But as it stands, they’ve failed to win any of their away games and have lost against the newly promoted Cardiff City.
After City drew with Stoke City in their last match, Pellegrini said:
“I don’t think you must expect us to win every match, of course we want to but it’s impossible to do it. I will not always be happy to draw away but for this match it is a good draw.”
It was a lackluster performance from City at the Britannia where the host had better shots (11 compared 10) than their opponents. For a manager, aiming to win the title, claiming to have the best team should feel disappointed with this result. Yet he says:
“Disappointed with the performance? No. But I agree that we didn’t have many chances to score, but when you play away and cannot win you must at least not lose and I think that’s important for us.”
Manchester United on the other hand earned a fine victory against Swansea at the Liberty Stadium on their opening day, while a draw against another potential title challenger cannot be seen as a ‘bad’ result either. Anfield has always been a tough place to visit, while United’s record in recent years hasn’t been that impressive at this iconic venue. So, from that respect, Moyes would be happy that at least his side did put up a good performance in the second half, almost pushing Liverpool to play out a defensive game.
Thus, both the teams may have picked up same number of points from same number of matches, but City have faced relatively weaker opponents than their rivals. In a nutshell, City haven’t given us any early indication to suggest that they’re the team to beat in the title race. Are they really any better than their derby rivals?