Belfast Telegraph

Alan Green: For once in a Blue moon, I’m backing Manchester City to end title wait

For reasons that I won’t bore you with I spent the entire summer at home and, trust me, I did well to avoid ending up in a mental institution.

Though I didn’t suffer any ‘withdrawal symptoms’ — you’ll know I think EVERY season goes on too long and that there’s a surfeit of football — I only survived because I managed to avoid anything that was going on at Wimbledon (to think, I used to love tennis when I was younger!) and because of the glorious wins for Rory and Darren.

No, I didn’t ‘miss’ football but the tedium of the phoney war that’s been building up — ‘X’ says he’s not frightened of any threat posed by ‘Y’ — means I’m actually ready for the real thing to begin.

I just wish I was expecting something out of the ordinary. I’m not. The Premier League is again likely to be won from a short list of the usual suspects.

But it won’t be Arsenal. I’m sorry to say I think the Arsene Wenger era may be nearing its denouement. It’s dreadful when your best players want to leave and, unfortunately, there’s little sign that the manager is ready to take the blinkers off and veer from his chosen path.

Because I still love watching Arsenal play, I hope I’m wrong

Much is being made of the revival of Liverpool under Kenny Dalglish: perhaps, for the moment, a little too much despite the £100 million or so that’s been spent on players this year.

I shuddered to read the comments of owner John W. Henry about the ‘merits’ of N’Gog and Aquilani after one of the club’s pre-season friendlies in the Far East but the American was far nearer proper judgment when he said he felt the club couldn’t win the title but should make the Champions League. I agree: Liverpool for the top four, at Arsenal’s expense.

Chelsea have a new, richly promising manager. The question is: will Abramovich give Andre Villas-Boas any more leeway in terms of time and the direction of the club than he’s given previous incumbents in the position? I don’t doubt that the coach has immense talent but he’s working with an aging squad and his own age (33) might count against him with certain players. Unless Chelsea start brightly, it’s no better than third for me. This means, of course, that I see the title staying in Manchester though not necessarily at United.

City are dysfunctional in many ways but you can’t deny the talent at their disposal. Aguero is an outstanding acquisition, even if it was money — as has been the case now since the Arabs arrived — that probably attracted him to Eastlands.

‘Success’ will keep players happy and, though the fans were delighted at the FA Cup triumph, it’s the League that should be targeted now.

I have little doubt that City will provide the biggest challenge to the Champions. United didn’t need to be at their best to hold off the others last season. I suspect they’ll have to be to claim a 20th title.

De Gea, despite Wembley, Jones and Young are all excellent signings but I’ll be surprised if Ferguson doesn’t move to strengthen the centre of midfield.

Narrowly, I’m going for City.

Belfast Telegraph


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