Good morning one and all!
Whilst I thoroughly enjoyed watching Norwich City v Wigan Athletic yesterday, I couldn’t help but think that the real action was concerning Manchester United v West Brom and Swansea City v Manchester City. I appreciate that both Manchester clubs were orignally scheduled to play on Saturday, only being moved to Sunday due to their Europa League committments, but surely a brand such as Sky Sports could have snaffled the TV rights for that one?
Was really anything preventing Sky Sports from televising both matches yesterday? Showing Manchester United live on Sky Sports Two, (let Norwich and Wigan have their original arrangement) with a red button option on the Manchester United match to view the Manchester City game. What with the ‘relatively big’ matter of a title to be decided, that would have been a great idea and what with Manchester City losing to Swansea as United won, would have provided great entertainment.
Anyway, that was my only gripe from the weekend. Oh, no it isn’t actually. I spent a good twenty minutes yesterday on hold waiting to talk about a quote for insurance on a new car. Bare in mind that yesterday was Sunday, a day of the week I hardly regard as being busy for car insurance. As much as I lik ‘Bittersweet Symphony’ by The Verve, it was only an instrumental version and I was getting very bored.
Anyway, that’s three paragraphs of me moaning, like a woman. I’m joking, of course, women are very tolerable and rarely whing about things of no importance. I on the other hand, moan about being put on hold for a car insurance quote. Maybe I’m ‘moaning like a Craig’.
Getting into the thick of it now, starting with Sheffield Wednesday and their shiny new Manager, Dave Jones, once of Cardiff City if you remember. You may also recall that Jones replaced the sacked Gary Megson, who had just claimed victory in a hotly contested Sheffield derby, something that I didn’t agree with.
Reading that back, it may seem that I disagreed with Sheffield Wednesday winning the ‘Steel City Derby. I have no problem with that. I meant Milan Mandaric deciding to sack the Ginger Mourinho (Gary Megson) straight off the back of a victory over Sheffield United. Has any Manager in world football ever been sacked following a victory over their biggest rivals? I somehow doubt it and for many reasons, I criticised Mandaric for his decision, I still do.
Whilst I disagree with Mandaric sacking Megson at such a crucial point of the season, I am a fan of Dave Jones, Megson’s replacement. Dave Jones is essentially an upgrade on Megson and the man will get results, of that I’m absolutely sure.
Following Jones’ appointment, he’s overseen a 0-0 draw with a pretty poor Rochdale side from the stands and as Manager, has directed Wednesday to a 4-1 and 3-0 victory over Bury and Bournemouth respectively. Having looked as if they could face the serious prospect of falling out of the play-off places, Sheffield Wednesday now look to have consolidated third, just as Sheffield United in second place begin to choke.
To reiterate, I don’t agree with sacking Gary Megson, I rarely accept Manager’s getting the sack mid-way through a season. Only in certain circumstances will I accept it, otherwise, do it in the summer.
Taking Megson out of the equation now, Sheffield Wednesday are looking very strong and Dave Jones’ appointment had to be made with Mandaric absolutely certain that Jones could achieve promotion this season. Now in the final run-in, Wednesday look great money for promotion but for true success, Jones now has to be left alone by Mandaric. There can no interference on Mandaric’s part and only then will Sheffield Wednesday be allowed to flourish, it’s not as if the potential isn’t there.
Going from Sheffield to Manchester now, we can’t do anything but look at the Premiership title race, which yesterday, took another gigantic twist.
In Manchester, Wayne Rooney was commandeering Manchester United to a 2-0 victory over West Brom. Shown to have twenty attempts on goal and the lion’s share of possession, there was never anything but a Manchester United win on the cards here. Sir Alex Ferguson churns out team after team, all capable of securing results as they approach the season’s final stretch.
Over in Swansea, Manchester City were playing Swansea City, who so far this season, have lost just once at home and that, unsurprisingly, came against Manchester United. Swansea have beaten Arsenal and drew with Tottenham Hotspurs at home this season and have looked impressive all season long, so it was always a tough nut to crack for Roberto Mancini’s Manchester City side.
In comparison to Manchester United’s consummate, all-conquering victory over West Brom, Manchester City never looked capable of putting the game away from Swansea’s reach and for all the possession Manchester City boasted around Swansea’s penalty area, they found it tough to break Swansea down and whilst City looked for an opening at one end, they found that Swansea would go close as well just as fast.
Everything about Manchester City’s performance yesterday was too open and if Mancini allows that to happen just once more this season, then Manchester United have had the Premiership title dumped on their plate by their inner-city rivals.
Manchester City conceded late on yesterday through a Luke Moore header and never looked capable of responding to that goal with ten minutes still left to play.
Whilst Manchester City lost silly points, Manchester United picked theirs up with ease and that is the key difference between a club used to winning titles and one that, with respect, is alien to the sensation. Not in a millon years would Manchester United have lost to Swansea yesterday.
People can claim that Manchester United are lucky, that Sir Alex Ferguson is best mates with every referee on the FA’s rota but come on, take your head out of the sand for a second. Can anybody really say that SAF has been lucky in the league nineteen times? No, because nobody has that amount of luck, it’s all down to being a strong, intelligent person, one who knows how to manage expectations and capable of achieving results in the most high-pressure situations.
Manchester City aren’t fortunate enough to have a Manager capable of performing in those situations. Roberto Mancini is a fantastic Manager, don’t get me wrong. I personally think Mancini has done an immense job as City Manager, but he has never had to win a title like this. In Serie A it was maybe a little easier mentally, but competing for the Premiership is like living in a pressure cooker and Mancini is new to this sensation, whilst SAF seems to love habituating in high-pressure cooking pots and that, will be the difference to success this season.
Finally, I must finish with Leicester City and their troubles. Yesterday I round at Mat’s house and his computer was open on the Foxes Talk page, where I saw the headline, ‘Nigel Pearson, should he be sacked and who could replace him?’ Straight away, I was silently screaming, pleading for Leicester’s Thai owners to keep faith with Pearson.
I’ve said it many times on here before, and I’ll say it again: Leicester desperately familiarity to be successful. Stick with Nigel Pearson and Leicester will go up next season, if not this season. If yet another Leicester Manager bites the dust, then this season will be repeated for years and years until it clicks that sticking with the same Manager brings success. Obviously, I don’t mean appoint anybody, for example you couldn’t appoint Ronald McDonald and say that keep faith with him for two seasons and you’ll achieve guaranteed success, as that’s absolutely ludicrous.
Leicester City’s player turnover in the past few years goes over the fifty mark and that is far too much, considering the different Managers Leicester have employed in that period in Pearson, Paulo Souza, Sven Goran Eriksson and Nigel Pearson once more. One Manager a season is not healthy and until Leicester stick with one, it’ll be groundhog day for years to come. Leicester have the resources, the players and a very good Manager, but do they have a Chairman with substance between his ears?
That final question is my last input for this post, so I will see you in the comments…