Man United vs. Man City: Why Manchester City Will Dominate the EPL This Season
Manchester City and Manchester United are two of the fiercest rivals in world football. Their battle for supremacy in the English Premier League—the most popular league in the world’s most popular sport—is a highly-amplified version of the New York Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox rivalry in Major League Baseball.
The long-standing rivalry between the two clubs and the financial imbalance that exist in the EPL makes the Yankees-Red Sox comparison more apt than one may think.
Manchester United is clearly the EPL’s version of the Yankees. They own a record 19 league titles; and with an estimated value of $2.23 billion, Man U was ranked No. 1 on the Forbes list of the 50 most valuable sports teams in the world.
Man City, meanwhile, enters the 2012 season as the defending Premier League champions, their first league championship in forty-four years—not quite as long of a drought as the Red Sox endured but you get the point.
Since being purchased by the Abu Dhabi United Group in 2008, City have become one of world football’s wealthiest franchises, finally giving them the financial muscle to regularly compete with Man U for the best talent in the world.
That talent, led by colorful stars Mario Balotelli and Carlos Tevez, seems poised to repeat as Premier League champions. Here are three reasons why.
Carlos Tevez Will be Engaged from the Start
Michael Regan/Getty Images
Manchester City striker Carlos Tevez's 2011 season got off to a rocky start. Last fall he found himself engaged in a feud with City boss Roberto Mancini that caused him to miss the first six months of the Premier League season.
Cooler heads eventually prevailed and Tevez was back with the club in time to help lead City to their first ever league championship.
Tevez enters the 2012 campaign with the beef fully behind him and in top shape as City prepares to defend their EPL title. With no significant additions to the club via transfers, the 28-year-old Argentinian will shoulder much of the responsibility for leading Manchester City back to the promised land.
Robin van Persie Will Not be the Answer for Manchester United
Michael Regan/Getty Images
Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson was not pleased with the club’s second place finish to hated rival Manchester City in last year’s English Premier League. Ferguson reacted to the disappointing finish by making what some might consider an impulse purchase, spending $37.7 million to bring Robin van Persie over from Arsenal.
Van Persie won the Premier League's Golden Boot last year when the 29-year-old striker led the league with 30 goals. While his goal-scoring prowess is unmistakable, van Persie is injury prone.
His addition also fails to address Man U’s biggest deficiency, namely a gaping hole at the center midfield position.
Aside from the massive sticker price and the questionable reliability, there’s the question of how well Man U’s newest imported sports car will fit in the garage next to domestic counterpart Wayne Rooney. While the two may have no issues meshing, it’s safe to say that van Persie won’t post another 30-goal season for the Red Devils.
The Dutch striker will certainly ramp up the entertainment factor in Old Trafford, but it’s unlikely that van Persie will lead Manchester United back to the top of the Premier League standings.
Manchester City's Talent Pool Runs Deep
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
Some lamented the fact that Manchester City did not use it’s financial resources to be more active in the transfer market. While that restraint could be tied to City’s respect for the UEFA’s Financial Fair Play rules, it could also be attributed to boss Roberto Mancini’s belief that his roster is plenty talented as currently constructed.
Along with Carlos Tevez and Mario Balotelli, City’s roster is littered with other standout talents like Sergio Aguera, Yaya Toure, David Silva, Samir Nasri and captain Vincent Kompany.
With a club that talented, it’s no wonder Mancini felt compelled to bow out of the Robin van Persi sweepstakes and enter the 2012 EPL dance with the footballers that delivered last year's championship.