Premier League will be a two-horse race
It has been the freakiest weekend in the English Premier League. The least shocking result, for me, was Man City winning against Chelsea, because the have a good squad and are probably even better than Chelsea, player for player.
It didn’t surprise me that City won because tactically they were very clever. They blocked the midfield where Chelsea are normally strong and they wouldn’t let them play. The shock for me was Arsenal losing at home against West Brom. Arsenal are a fantastic side and for them to lose to West Brom, with due respect, was really unexpected. It was a fantastic performance by West Brom, but without Van Persie and Fabregas Arsenal did not seem to be in the same league as Man City and Chelsea.
What of Man United? Well I have the same comment about my former club, as painful and tough as it is. Without Rooney firing on all cylinders, they just struggled. I mentioned previously that there was a time when we had a frontline of Ronaldo, Tevez and Rooney and if one of those three played, you won the game.
Now it is Rooney and Berbatov and Rooney is not really playing well. At the same time Berbatov is not performing consistently and you cannot really expect him to for every game, can you? At the back Rio is not there and they are conceding goals left, right and centre -- against Bolton, three against Everton, two against Liverpool and two against Fulham. There are only two teams that look like they will win the league and they are Chelsea and Man City.
These two have great squads to make a serious challenge for any silverware on offer. At the end of the day, unless you really mess it up, your squad will carry you through. We always use the example of Real Madrid -- that they had great players but never won anything. However, if you look at Man City this time, they bought more team players like Yaya Toure and Gareth Barry and they got rid of individual players like Robinho and Bellamy. They are creating a team of stars that will complement each other well, unlike Real Madrid, which had a lot of individual players who did not play for each other.
From a Man United point of view, all I can say is that this is going to be a really tough season. I have a bad feeling that Man United will finish behind Man City and Chelsea. In the Champions League things are not looking good either as they still have to beat top teams and get past the likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Chelsea (perhaps) and Arsenal. The way Man United are playing, it’s not looking good.
The big questions are: can Rooney get over his personal problems, can Rio be fit in time and will Berbatov keep rising? It’s a lot of ifs and it is highly unlikely that those ifs will come together. The reality is that it is difficult to breed young players through the system. Yes Arsenal did that but it takes a lot.
Sure there is an opportunity to beef up the squad in January but another question is, is there money to compete with the likes of Man City and Chelsea? City can basically get anyone they want. They can go to Toure and say, “how much do you want”? I don’t think United will be able to do that.
I think Yaya is on nearly £200 000 a week. That’s crazy money and that’s why Tevez had to go, because United could not compete with City on wages. I think it’s going to be the same for some time and all United can do is to hope that Hernandez comes to the party. He is certainly a talent up front but would you have him or Tevez? Personally I would have Tevez. Would you have John O’Shea or a top-class defender like Kolo Toure? I would have Kolo. That’s where Man United are falling behind.
I would draw Liverpool into this fold and I do not see them finishing anywhere in the top four. In fact, they will not even come close because they haven’t got that money. Though, maybe I am wrong in my assessment.