Over the years, pundits, journalists, ex-players and fans have all questioned whether Sir Alex Ferguson is past it, and this summer was no exception. There were doubts over whether or not he could recreate a similar side to the class of ’92 as Ryan Giggs was the only remaining player of this side. And, at first, Cleverley, Welbeck, Jones and Smalling all seemed to be proving the critics wrong, and the fluidity of their play at times was really something special.
The thing that happened next was what really slowed United’s season down – Cleverley’s injury.
As Darren Fletcher came back into the side, they suddenly looked flat, lacking in goals and playing without confidence. This was when the 1-0’s came into play, and United suddenly seemed to be relying on the aging legs of Ryan Giggs, nevertheless, they have kept up with City in the title fight and today they stand three points behind them.
With Vincent Kompany still suspended for the next couple of games and Kolo Toure away at the African Cup Of Nations, Manchester City will be relying heavily on Micah Richards to control and lead that City defence. I don’t believe Lescott and Savic are nearly good enough to be competing at the very top end of the Premier League each week and with Clichy being clearly vulnerable defensively, their will be gaping holes for the opposition to exploit, and with them playing Tottenham this week I believe the likes of Modric, Lennon and Bale can use this to their advantage.
Having said that, the player that they will miss the most is Yaya Toure, he has proved over the last eighteen months that he is crucial to the way City play, with his explosive runs through the middle, and tireless defensive work-rate he is a key player.
This leaves a huge amount of pressure on the classy David Silva, whom has done better than anyone could have imagined when he first signed for the City ‘revolution’. If he can play well, there should be no reason why City shouldn’t outscore the vast majority of opponents, but if he has a poor game, I’m sure City will have a poor game.
Back on the other side of Manchester, the mood will be very different.
Scholes having re-signed will be a big boost to morale more than anything, Cleverley returning to fitness, Carrick putting in some world-class performances, Young returning, as are the Da Silva twins. Over the next couple of weeks, Manchester United have the opportunity to be stronger than they were at the beginning of the season, in complete contrast to their local rivals.
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