The story of the contrasting fortunes of the two Manchester giants is getting more ridiculous by the day. While Manchester City are becoming stronger with each passing game and with a realistic chance of winning an unprecedented quadruple, defending Premier League champions Manchester United are getting more desperate every time they get on the field of play with no hope of getting anything this season.
Both Manchester sides have had new managers this season but while Manuel Pellegrini is steadily getting into his grove and making the Citizens invincible, David Moyes’s reign at Old Trafford is becoming a real nightmare and some fans are already losing their patience. Most of them could take the early wobbles and were still hopeful that by the turn of the year things would have fallen into place.
To the dismay of those fans, the team has taken to the field six times this year and they have gone back home with sad faces on five occasions. The fact that most of these disappointing results have been registered at the iconic Theatre of Dreams has been even more distressing. They are now out of both domestic competitions, stuck at seventh position in the league and, of course, in the knockout phase of the Champions League.
Although Moyes has said he will not give up on defending the league title, not many from his own camp share his optimism. The more realistic target has to be that position four which so far is being fought out for by my Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur and Everton who are separated by a single point in that mini-league five points ahead of the Red Devils. Even that target is out of their hands at the moment.
On the brighter side, United have a free weekend to reflect on their problems and seek solutions before their next game on Tuesday night when they host former star Ole Gunnar Solksjaer and his Cardiff City. Much as teams are now coming to Old Trafford with lots of confidence, one has to fancy a home win, which of course will not change their position on the log table but could take them closer to the sides ahead of them.
If the Red Devils want to avoid a trophyless season they need to focus on the Champions League and they have done well so far in that competition. Both Liverpool and Chelsea won that trophy when they were struggling at home and there is nothing to stop the Manchester giants to claim their fourth title this time if their good run continues. It may be the most realistic route to more European football next season.
Meanwhile, it is FA Cup weekend which started last night with the Arsenal hosting Coventry City and one interesting thing is that, unlike the last round, there is only one all-Premier League match-up. Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea will host Stoke City while looking to avenge their surprise 3-2 loss in the league last month. Other than that match, therefore, any potential headlines will be made by some giant-killing story.
And as alluded to earlier, league action returns midweek with some tasty fixtures both on Tuesday and Wednesday night. Anfield will host one of the most hotly contested Merseyside derbies while Southampton welcome the Gunners to St Mary’s on Tuesday. And then the following night, Spurs will be meeting high-flying City at White Hart Lane. How these games impact on the league standings will be interesting to see.