Sunday 4 December 2016

City sure to prevail and ruin all the fun

Joe Molloy

Published 27/01/2016 | 02:30

Despite some mediocre performances, Manchester City and Sergio Aguero are still favourites for the title (Photo: Getty Images)
Despite some mediocre performances, Manchester City and Sergio Aguero are still favourites for the title (Photo: Getty Images)

A rather deflating thought took hold on Sunday as Arsenal did what they so often do against Chelsea: in this most unpredictable of Premier League seasons, we are still going to end up with Manchester City as the most mundane and vanilla of champions.

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It suddenly feels inevitable; 2015-16 deserves a better finale.

In fairness to City, they do all they can to keep things interesting. Their recent slip-ups at Upton Park and Selhurst Park have become commonplace and still, they find themselves comfortably level with the strongest Arsenal squad in a decade. (For how much longer we can discount Leicester I'm not sure).

Sometimes three points are just three points and other times they're a lot more. Sunday at the Emirates was loaded with scar-tissue and psychological baggage, which needed purging. Instead of Arsenal emerging unscathed from their injury crisis and demonstrating that this year is different, they have entered a blip and have several days to ruminate on the repeated failings of the group and manager.

One suspects the City players know deep down that Sergio Aguero will eventually propel them on a reasonably impressive run of wins which should seal the deal.

Manuel Pellegrini will promptly be sacked. And then hopefully Pep Guardiola will imbue the most corporate group in the history of English football with some kind of discernible character.

Never has such an expensively assembled group of people made such little impact on our collective consciousness. Watching them play football feels like a business exchange.

As for Louis van Gaal it seems we have arrived at the endpoint, and even Louis sort of agrees.

Somewhere along the line he lost the players and now, as he conceded this weekend, he has lost Old Trafford and maybe even confidence in himself.

The result of his pre-Christmas meeting with senior players over the rigid tactics has been more rigid tactics. Not since September has Old Trafford seen a first-half goal from United.

Ed Woodward is therefore in a bit of a bind. Increasingly, he and the fans have reservations over the notion of Ryan Giggs taking charge. Logic has taken hold and the arguments for appointing a man with zero managerial experience on the basis of his playing career suddenly looked quaint.

So that leaves Jose Mourinho; a uniquely brilliant track record but a style of play which is very un-United. That's if you agree there actually is a United way and not just an Alex Ferguson way.

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