Manchester City: Sir Alex Ferguson's Departure Opens Door Further for Sky Blues

Phil Keidel@@PhilKeidelContributor IIMay 10, 2013

Few though they were, their battles were memorable.
Few though they were, their battles were memorable.Michael Regan/Getty Images

No team is better poised to take advantage of Sir Alex Ferguson's retirement from Manchester United than the club he notoriously called United's "noisy neighbors."

Ferguson brought the curtain down at the Theater of Dreams this season with another league title. A stray boot from Nani against Real Madrid doomed his final Champions League run, but the season as a whole was a huge success for Ferguson and his side.

Two games remain in Ferguson's managerial tenure. Both are little more than victory laps in Premier League matches against opponents pinned hopelessly in mid-table.

Neither Swansea City nor West Bromwich Albion figures to trouble United too much, even if one or the other musters a win.

United already has the league title. These matches are glorified exhibitions for Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie and Co. That is assuming that any of United's stars dress for those clashes.

Ferguson's departure, though, underlines in fire engine red the opportunity each of United's closest pursuers has now to overtake United in the league.

Of those in the trailing pack, Manchester City is in the best position to wrest the Premier League trophy away from the side that David Moyes will manage next season.

You almost reach this result by process of elimination.

Is Chelsea going to catch United (and vault past City)? Chelsea has loads of talent on the pitch and plenty of money to spend, sure, but that has been true for years.

More troubling for Chelsea presently is that Rafa Benitez is the quintessential short-time employee apt to pocket office supplies and prank call Roman Abramovich at 3:00 a.m. on his way out of Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea still does not know who their next manager will be. Speculation abounds, but speculation does not breed stability. And if it is Jose Mourinho, well, he is coming off a pretty mediocre season at Real Madrid.

What about Arsenal? Exactly—what about them.

As long as Arsene Wenger continues to consider fourth place in the league a trophy, it will be nearly impossibly to imagine Arsenal doing anything but trying annually to lock down that same "silverware."

As for Tottenham Hotspur, Andres Villas-Boas has done a fine job this year. Then again, if you were given Gareth Bale, you could probably manage Spurs to no worse than seventh or eighth in the table.

Even if your closest prior managerial experience is playing FIFA '13 on your Playstation.

And, as Villas-Boas clearly understands, things at White Hart Lane could get very dicey if Spurs fail to qualify for the Champions League and Bale decides he has to go elsewhere to play at the highest level.

Without Bale, Tottenham Hotspur is more or less Liverpool. Hard to say which club is more horrified at that prospect.

Yes, right, don't forget about United. As it stands, United will bring Rooney, van Persie, David de Gea and plenty of other high-quality talent back next season.

Can anyone say, though, that there will be no dip in form or crisis of confidence in the transition from the greatest manager United has ever known to a man whose great feat annually has been pulling Everton kicking and screaming into the top half of the table with inferior players?

Does anyone really know how Moyes will handle a squad with multiple players possessing the gifts of Marouane Fellaini and the attitudes to match?

With all this comparative disarray at the top of the Premier League table, Manchester City's best strategy would be to approach the coming transfer window and offseason with calculated aggression and limited drama.

If City gets an Edinson Cavani or a Radamel Falcao, the club needs to do precious little else to position itself to carve through the confusion of the teams around them and jump back onto the Premier League champions podium.

Including, it should go without saying, forgetting all thoughts of replacing Roberto Mancini.

With their primary rivals presenting so many touchy questions, City needs to quietly, calmly stay its course and provide the answers.