Manchester United: Why Finishing Behind City Can Be a Blessing in Disguise

Max TowleAnalyst IMay 4, 2012

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 16:  A Man Utd fan sits dejected at the final whistle during the FA Cup sponsored by E.ON semi final match between Manchester City and Manchester United at Wembley Stadium on April 16, 2011 in London, England.  (Photo by Scott Heavey/Getty Images)
Scott Heavey/Getty Images

For Manchester United fans, the prospect of finishing trophy-less for the first time in seven seasons is hardly reason for optimism.

However, as tough as it would be to yield bragging rights to their "noisy neighbours," supporters can take solace in the fact that defeat this season might turn out to be the best possible outcome for their team.

Long-term, that is.

The last Premier League triumph by United only papered over the cracks left by the departure of one Cristiano Ronaldo in 2009.

They've subsisted by preaching the importance of "experience" and relying on the laurels of their weathered manager.

It was in my very first article for Bleacher Report that I examined this post-CR period, a spell not especially lacking in silverware for the club, but devoid of the class and domination that had been evident in previous seasons.

The type of football that would strike fear into the hearts of all they would meet, home or away.

But Chelsea's Premier League triumph in 2010 didn't have the effect it should have.

The Glazers kept their stubborn hands in pockets as Ferguson increasingly relied upon the old heads of Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs and Rio Ferdinand.

They have sleepwalked whilst Barcelona, Real Madrid, and now Manchester City have elevated the standards of footballing excellence to new highs.

One can argue that sport comes in "swings and roundabouts," a phrase popularized by Sir Alex himself, but this current period is one roundabout that United would be amiss to avoid.

If, by any miracle, United do finish this season victorious, one could argue that their most valuable player and defining reason for their success has been the returning 37-year-old, Paul Scholes.

If this is the case, there is something seriously wrong with the current state of the club.

Danny Welbeck and Javier Hernandez look a long way off the finished article, whilst the likes of Nani, Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young cannot be relied upon to play the role of playmaker every game.

A second-place finish this year would surely prove to Ferguson the necessity of spending big to get that transcendent talent the club sorely misses.

It has been said by many that this season was to have been a "transitional" one, a term previously used to defend the failures of 1997-1998, 2001-2002 and 2003-2004.

But if United are to regain top-dog status, not just in England, but in Europe as well, the real transition is yet to come.