There may never have been a time when so many of England's top clubs were in transition at the same time.
This may be one of the reasons why Manchester United and City have been so successful this season.
For all the people who have said this is the worst United team for a long time, the Red Devils could finish with the highest number of Premier League points ever.
Yes, they've gone out of Europe and the Cups, but so far they have won 12 away League games, against a total of only five for the whole of last season.
Chelsea are clearly aging, with their top players getting old together. If Abramovich orders a clear-out at the end of the season, it will cost him a lot in transfer fees to replace them, even if the wage bill is halved.
Arsenal still haven't found a winning formula—already, with the season not yet ended, they have gone an eighth season without a trophy. Their defence is not settled; they haven't replaced Fabregas, Nasri or Henry, and it is only Robin van Persie's fitness that has kept them from a Liverpool-style collapse.
The Scousers seem to have been in transition since before Rafa Benitez left. He brought in many of his own players and after he went, Roy Hodgson was left with a "poison chalice." Dalglish has not managed to stem the free-fall, despite spending £113 million on even more players.
While Tottenham have been fairly settled, continuing to build a European side, they still have Emanuel Adebayor on loan to resolve and, if Harry stays, no doubt there are more signings and departures on the horizon.
Newcastle have been fundamentally reinvented under Alan Pardew. He has actually made a profit on transfers while building a blend of English and French players that has surprised many.
Meanwhile, City have probably been the most settled squad at the top.
The Priceless Experience of Sir Alex
I've lost count of how many times Sir Alex has rebuilt his team and squad. It seems like four or even five times.
In fact, since the departure of David Beckham started the end of the "kids who won't win anything" era, United seem to have been permanently in transition in one way or another.
This time, however, he is probably building his last squad, with a quality, flexibility and adaptability good enough to outlast his own tenure. This will affect the selection of his successor, because it will do United no good for a new manager to completely demolish the squad and rebuild it.
A number of characteristics have increasingly been the hallmark of Sir Alex's United teams. Now, there seems to be a settled pattern:
- blend youth and experience;
- have a caucus of players who can play in more than one position;
- as far as possible, everyone should have pace;
- ball skill is paramount, with the ability to pass and receive at pace;
- a core of British players running through the spine;
- a fundamental team ethic.
A major reason for the success of Brian Clough's teams, who far exceeded expectations, was their willingness to play for each other. Yes, Clough had unquestionable disciplinary authority, as Sir Alex does, but even more than the Scot, he got apparently ordinary players to transcend their apparent potential in a team that played for each other.
So when we're looking for reasons why United are still heading the Premier League with "one of the worst teams for years," apart from the rest getting worse, the main reason is that as much as at any time since Sir Matt was manager, United play as a team.
They may be in transition, but the value of having Scholes, Giggs and Ferdinand around is that they can share the wisdom, counsel and guidance of players who've won every honour in the game, over and over, and know how to get through "squeaky bum time."
It is no surprise that players like Welbeck, Hernandez, Jones, Smalling, Cleverley and Pogba can come so quickly to the fore. The squad is big enough for them to have time to develop and learn "the United way," but also if you have the talent you are given your chance.
This will also be true of new signings, as De Gea and Ashley Young have shown. You may be 20, but if you're good enough, you will be given your chance.
Sir Alex will allow you two years to get up to speed and fit into the United way of playing. So relax and enjoy the ride.