Since Sunday’s derby match between the Manchester clubs, the alarms have been sounding (louder than usual) from Manchester United supporters. Soccer pundits have been quick to throw water on the fire by saying it is still early in the season for fans to worry. While they also point out that this United team is still the current champions of England.
City not only beat United, they appeared hungrier and more focused. The only person who played with any purpose for United on Sunday was Wayne Rooney. The rest of the team went missing.
It is safe to say that City’s drive came from the way they performed last season. How they barely put up a fight while United took the Premier League trophy back to Old Trafford. The City players would have spent the entire off season regretting their efforts and waiting for a chance to dish out some payback.
So the question has been raised by media outlets (after five league matches), “Could United miss out on the Top Four this season?”
As I mentioned earlier, most “experts” feel that United have too many returning players from a championship squad to let missing out on the Champions League happen. They feel that United will use their mystical powers and right their early season mishaps.
The danger in assuming this is that matches aren’t won solely on experience. There are numerous factors in winning.
Take last year’s Manchester City squad. Roberto Mancini said that he regretted not bringing in any new players to add to his title-winning squad. Despite winning the league, he was aware that his team needed to keep improving because the other clubs were going to step their efforts up in an effort to knock City off their perch. Mancini knew that some fresh, hungry blood was needed to improve on the team’s performance.
The end result was that City did not add any notable additions. And over the course of last season, players (i.e. Joe Hart) and the manager expressed that the team was not meeting expectations and had reached a level of complacency. The drive to regain their title was not there as it was the year before when they fought to wrestle the title from United… literally fighting to the last second of the last match of the season in order to win the league.
The end result of last season was that City was the only team who really presented any type of threat to United, and City were far behind them.