Manchester United: Why the Red Devils Remain Stronger Than Man City
For the last three seasons, England's capital has been starved of success in the Premier League as the two Manchester teams, City and United, have dominated.
Not since 2010 has a team from outside the Cheshire Plains won the title with the red half of Manchester victorious in two of the last three campaigns.
Yet just a year ago, all the signs pointed to a decade of dominance for Manchester City, as Roberto Mancini and his men won their first league title in 44 years. The Old Trafford dynasty so carefully constructed by Sir Alex Ferguson, many claimed, was in danger of collapse.
But any hopes the Citizens may have had of conquering the world were shelved by a resolute United team this season and the bragging rights once again went to Ferguson's men, who waltzed to the league crown with a virtual canter.
The ghost of Sergio Aguero's 90th minute winner against Queens Park Rangers the season prior was very much laid to rest and Ferguson disappeared happily into retirement.
As we prepare for yet another season of Premier League action, it would seem as though the Red Devils are once more the stronger of the two outfits, as we hope to highlight within the following pages.
The Acquisition Of, and Missing Out on Key Targets
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Nearly a year ago, now ex-City manager Roberto Mancini bemoaned the transfer inactivity that saw him miss out on top targets Daniele de Rossi, Daniel Agger and Robin van Persie and would later claim it was the failure to sign the latter that ultimately cost his team the title.
These are two players who could have improved City's prospects of regaining their title tenfold, and it is difficult to imagine them now buying in players of equal quality to support the overworked Sergio Aguero and Carlos Tevez next season.
By contrast, United have already improved arguably one of their weakest areas by bringing in winger Wilfried Zaha from Crystal Palace.
With Ferguson noticing the once-reliable Nani, Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young creeping into a worrying state of ineffectual anonymity, he wasted no time in completing his transfer business months in advance and has already improved United's midfield for next season despite the fact he will not be there to oversee it.
Could Man City potentially rue the fact they have missed out on Neymar and Falcao while United have landed their chosen targets so far?
They're on Sounder Financial Footing
Are Manchester City's sheikh owners familiar with the parable of the wise and the foolish builders?
There's an age-old metaphor that goes like this:
Everyone therefore who hears these words of mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man, who built his house on a rock. The rain came down, the floods came and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it didn't fall, for it was founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of mine, and doesn't do them will be like a foolish man, who built his house on the sand. The rain came down, the floods came and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.
Manchester City are built on an economic nonsense, funded by Sheikh Mansour's billions, they have demonstrated frightening levels of profligacy and the club’s owner and his investment vehicle, Abu Dhabi United Group, have ploughed at least £1 billion into the venture since 2008, according to the BBC).
United hardly operate with sound financial efficiency but have made steps in the right direction to shrink their debts and in David Moyes have a manager who knows how to operate on a shrewd budget if needs be (but a little more on that later).
In this new era of Financial Fair Play (FFP), can free-spending teams like Manchester City break even year to year? The club reported an annual loss of £194.9 million for the 2010-11 season, the biggest in English football history, meaning there's no way they'd have met FFP regulations had they been in effect then.
United, meanwhile, have continued to enjoy healthy profit margins in the years since and have been named the richest club in the world for eight years in a row.
To hark back to that parable, if City do not meet FFP requirements in the future and fail to curb their enormous spending: "The rain came down, the floods came and the winds blew, and beat on that house; and it fell—and great was its fall."
Their Investment in Youth
At Manchester United, an exciting crop of young players is starting to come through. Manchester City's Joe Hart will be the England No. 1 for years to come but playing in front of him will be Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Tom Cleverley and Danny Welbeck, while Wilfried Zaha is tipped to star in the 2014 World Cup.
The reason why Manchester United provide the national team with so many of their players is because they actively encourage and invest in young, homegrown talents, something of which Manchester City are not doing.
The likes of Jack Rodwell and Scott Sinclair have gone completely backwards since moving to the Etihad from Everton and Swansea, respectively and simply haven't been given a look in.
Manchester United are treating their younger players a lot better than City are at present and that's just another reason why the Red Devils are stronger, both in terms of short-term and long-term success.
Their Current Strike Force
Manchester City have looked somewhat bereft of forwards ever since January.
Mario Balotelli was sold to AC Milan in the winter transfer window and Roberto Mancini didn't even think to replace him, which left just Sergio Aguero, Carlos Tevez and Edin Dzeko as the only senior strikers at the club.
It was this distinct lack of firepower that contributed to City not winning the Premier League title this season, as United proved that having a quartet of strikers is clearly the way to go.
Thanks to their strength in depth with the likes of Danny Welbeck and Javier Hernandez to call upon if Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie weren't working out, the Reds were simply too strong for their opposition and ended up strolling to the title.
I've already touched upon City's failure to land Neymar and Falcao, and with the procurement of Edinson Cavani also far from certain, you have to wonder how the club are going to improve in this department ahead of next season.
Their Choice in Manager
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Both Manchester City and United will go into the new Premier League season with a new manager, with David Moyes already named as retired Sir Alex Ferguson's successor and Manuel Pellegrini believed to be on his way to the Etihad.
Once again, it would seem as though it is United who are the stronger of the two sides in this department.
Moyes is a man who has a decade-and-a-half worth of experience managing in England while Pellegrini is more accustomed to South American and Spanish football, having managed in Argentina, Chile and Spain since 1987.
Though Pellegrini has had a longer managerial career, he has not had a taste of English football, and it will be interesting to see how he and his potential Spanish signings adapt to the much more intense environs of the EPL.
Once more touching on the FFP rules soon coming into effect, United would also seem to have the advantage of having a manager used to operating with success on a shoestring budget, as Moyes has done so frequently down the years.
Pellegrini, on the other hand, will be expected to be successful by once more splashing the cash.
Clearly, Moyes has a lot to prove as he goes in search of what would be his first-ever piece of silverware next season, but he, and Manchester United, would seem to have the edge when it comes down to experience.