How Long Will Manchester Clubs Dominate the English Premier League?
The Premier League fans sat listlessly as both Manchester clubs—Manchester United and Manchester City—finished yet another week unbeaten. The latest results have now stretched the Red Devils' unbeaten run to 13 games, while the Citizens completed their sixth week in a row without a loss.
Even though both clubs performed below their standards in recent weeks, neither crumbled under pressure, as they continued their fine forms and extended their lead atop the table.
It is plain obvious that no team in the league can match the Manchester clubs in terms of league performances this year, and the title race has consequently become a two-horse race. Needless to say, both clubs have all but secured Champions League football next season.
Their dominance looks to be unbreakable. But is it really?
The truth is that the unbeatable duo hasn't been that great this season.
Although both have had little problem seeing off their opposition in the league, the Champions League has shown that they have to mature and improve their game before they will be able to create a duopoly similar to the one in La Liga with Real Madrid and Barcelona.
Their feat in the league is remarkable, nonetheless. The Red Devils are nine points adrift of their main title contenders, Manchester City, and the Citizens are further seven points above the third-placed Chelsea.
Not to take anything from their success, but the Manchester dominance in the league has largely resulted from the sudden downfall of other Premier League giants, most notably Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool.
The inexplicable collapse of the main title rivals combined with both Manchester clubs' heavy spending in the transfer market has created a huge gap between the pair and the rest of the league.
However, it could all change in a blink of the eye.
The defending champions look to have already handed the league title to Manchester United, and quite frankly, it seems only a matter of time before the Red Devils are crowned the new champions.
Manchester City's humiliating failure in the Champions League, their inability to sternly challenge for the Premier League and their early Capital One Cup exit will undoubtedly have consequences on the club's finances and, more importantly, on the manager.
Roberto Mancini was already on thin ice last season, but having barely won the league in stoppage time of the last league game, the club's owners decided to stick with him rather than find a new manager.
Should the Citizens repeat last season's failings and miss out on a major trophy this year—in all probability, they will—Mancini cannot expect much understanding from the club's boardroom.
All in all, the Italian's days at the Etihad Stadium are slowly coming to an end.
The inevitable managerial change will probably bring a period of instability to the club, weaken the team, and it could even result in a couple of star players leaving—a fate similar to the one Liverpool suffered in previous years.
Furthermore, finding a replacement for the outgoing manager will not be an easy task. The current climate in world football has left only a few world-class, top-notch managers unemployed, and signing one could cost a lot of money, which could present a problem thanks to the newly introduced FIFA Financial Fair Play rule.
On the other hand are Manchester United. Although more stable than their counterpart, they are also getting closer to their possible breaking point.
Sir Alex Ferguson has done a world of good for the club in his 26-year stay in the hot seat, but even he is a human; the Manchester United boss cannot continue doing the hard, stressful managerial job for much longer.
Once Sir Alex's time with the Red Devils comes to an end, the indebted club owners will need a new man for the job. But is it even possible to find a replacement for such a great manager?
After having only one manager for the last quarter of the century, the team will be heavily affected, and a period of transition will undoubtedly follow.
Whoever is brought in to replace Manchester United's greatest-ever manager will certainly have a huge burden on his back. Not only will he be expected to implement his own style of play, but he will also have to to continue the winning tradition established by Sir Alex himself.
For the time being, Manchester City and Manchester United are here to stay, but tough times loom for both clubs.
The Manchester duopoly could break down sooner than expected.
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