Back on Oct. 23, Manchester City destroyed their rival neighbors, Manchester United 6-1 at Old Trafford.
Many — including myself — believed this was the beginning of a season-long transition of power from Manchester clubs, as the Light Blues — equipped with the world’s most star-studded lineup and a never-ending supply of transfer funds — would overtake their more successful counterpart.
But, as more changed throughout the Barclays Premier League, the more they stayed the same, as the Red Devils are guaranteed — barring a historical collapse — their unprecedented 20th English League title.
It’s a real testament to United, who battled through injuries that would make most teams crumble. United lost their captain, Nemanja Vidic, for the season in December to a knee injury and didn’t skip a beat, going 15-2-1 on the season since losing the Serbian.
Striker Wayne Rooney has performed tremendously in the BPL this season, scoring 21 goals, second only to Arsenal’s scoring machine Robin Van Persie’s 26. Last season Rooney was in the midst of controversy, as it was unclear whether he wanted to continue his career in a red jersey, flirting with the light blue of the cross-town rivals.
This season it was Manchester City who starred in the striker saga, with last year’s BPL league-leader in goals scored, Carlos Tevez, sitting most of the season out from pure pettiness.
The Light Blues didn’t necessarily miss his scoring prowess — with Argentine replacement Sergio Agüero scoring 17 and two others adding 13 — his distractions off the field certainly took away from City’s ability to hold off United.
Speaking of off-the-field antics, City striker Mario Balotelli can’t seem to get away from it. At times the Italian looks like the most talented guy on the pitch, while at others he can’t seem to break the starting 11, due to needless breaking of team rules.
If the Light Blues all-star striking unit could just keep their attitudes in check, they would have had no problem in holding off United.
But instead, United continued to chip away all season long, either by the feet of ageless wonders Ryan Giggs — who’s somewhere between 37 and 137 — or Paul Scholes, who United had to pull out of retirement at the January transfer window, only to have him be one of the most helpful signings during the midseason.
United’s turn to the top of the table could be centered on the continued brilliance of its wing play by its ever-changing parts. It doesn’t seem to matter if it’s Nani, Ashley Young, Antonio Valencia or Park Ji-Sung — every game, a goal seems to stem from one of the wings. The stats back it up, with 45 goals either being scored or assisted by one of those four wingers.
When talking about United, you can’t forget about their much-maligned goalie David De Gea, who was constantly criticized at the beginning of the season for not being Premier League-worthy. However, in United’s last seven BPL games — all wins — De Gea hasn’t let up more than one goal.
With all that said, it may be a little easier to see why United is eight points clear of City with six games to go. It doesn’t seem to matter the players he puts on the field, United manager Sir Alex Ferguson will get them to play championship-caliber soccer.
Which brings us to the last reason that United will hoist the league’s crown, potentially at City’s home field when they meet on April 30. While Manchester City may have the superior talent of the two squads, there’s no doubt who is the king patrolling the sidelines.
If this turns out to be Fergie’s 13th English League title, it will no doubt be his most amazing.