Monday 8th April 2013 – the defending champions from Manchester were at the champions elect from Manchester. It was Derby Day (evening) – MANCHESTER NIGHT FOOTBALL it was dubbed as in the end City beat United 1-2 at Old Trafford – but it was the reds who were on their way to the title to wrestle back the Premier League they lost the previous season due to the now infamous Aguerooooooooooooooooooo goal. At this stage it seemed that football in England would be centred around a tussle between Manchester’s finest. however roll on to now. Yes the blues won the title last season but their defence as in 2012-13 has not been good enough. As for the reds after a shocker of a season in 2013-14 they needed to get back on track and fast.
So at Old Trafford there was a new manager, new outlook and new beginnings were the order of the day over at Old Trafford on August 16th unfortunately Swansea did not read the script and the LVG revolution, as it was being called, stalled at the first hurdle. It actually took the Iron Tulip another 3 more games to record his first league victory – against relegated QPR. From there on followed an up and down season for the reds of Manchester with on occasion decent performances, on occasion poor performances but one thing they did have was fighting spirit and this despite an outlay of over 150milion in the summer has been enough to secure a 4th place finish and a return to the Champions League – well the play off stage anyways. So the MINIMUM objective has been achieved so credit to the new manager for that, but I would say that he has had the easiest task of any Manchester United manager probably since the early days of Sir Matt Busby’s tenure. The Dutchman
has had no European football to contend with (they actually played NO midweek football from the end of August to the start of December). He was given everything he asked for in regards to transfers but on several occasions disjointed and let’s be honest downright awful performances were the result (the LVG philosophy did not look pretty) – though to be fair to him the majority of times points were garnered with United winning the matches they really really really needed too and he has said himself that finishing 4th is nothing to celebrate with better needing to come next season. Another massive financial outlay is in the offering this coming summer (Memphis Depay has already been purchased for a fee of up to 31 million pounds already) a title push and a major challenge (final at least) for a trophy will be the MINIMUM requirement. Improvements are likely as LVG has the track record but with games coming much thicker and faster next season we will see how good and adaptable he really is.
Over in the blue half of the city, yet again their defence of their League title has been a damp squib. Chilean manager Manuel Pellegrini was lauded at the end of the 2013-14 season after winning the Premier League and the League Cup in his first season in English football. However after a disappointing follow up his job is on the line. It has been a strange year over at the Etihad – their summer spending was compromised because of Financial Fair Play which then had the knock on effect of them having restrictions made on their Champions League squad though players brought in especially the new to English football Porto pair Fernando and Mangala
have not set the Premier League alight and they have both struggled at times throughout the season. Despite all the money that has been spent (and more will be dolled out this coming summer) by their Abu Dhabi owners a key player throughout their time has been Vincent Kompany (a mere 6 million bargain by the way) though he has not had a stellar season – injury to that man Aguero in early December was not helpful, but on New Years Day after Chlesea’s defeat at Spurs they were joint top of the table and in with a great chance of retaining their title. However 2015 has since been an awful year – they went out of the FA Cup to Championship side Middlesbrough, they were beaten by Barcelona in the Champions League but it was their poor run in the league when in the twelve matches before their current run (five successive victories since derby defeat in April) they only managed 4 wins out of 12 (3 draws and 5 defeats included) which is just not good enough.
As said they are on a terrific run at the moment and are likely to finish second in the league which you would think would be at least a satisfactory return, but its the how and the fact that in key matches this season they have either been found wanting (especially on the tactical side) or did not have the know how to get over the line after being in the ascendancy. Mr Pellegrini was probably praying that Real Madrid progressed in the Champions League as the rumours are their current manager Carlo Ancelotti would be on his way to Manchester if he ended up trophyless this season (which is now the case). Chopping and changing managers does not necessarily get success, though if a manager of the Italian’s calibre becomes available it is a decision the hierarchy at the Etihad will have to make.
So in summary – very average seasons for both Manchester clubs – with the minimum achieved – one thing is for sure they will both have to up their game next season especially if they want to bring the power base of English football back up north – one message is clear #MUSTDOBETTER!!!!!!!
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