A man for all seasons
I have been asked to provide my thoughts on Manchester City's chances this season and a look back on last season.
My opinions and thoughts tend to be more optimistic than those of non-City fans.
But I also took some time to read what the established UK press pack thought of City's chances this coming season and the logic behind their assessments.
It does seem that a lot of the better known names in sports journalism are more positive about City than they were last year, but that would hardly be difficult.
They still seem to focus on the long drawn out Carlos Tevez story (are we not all bored of that now?) as well as the antics of Mario Balotelli in a way that perhaps United or Chelsea don't suffer.
Why have the press said almost nothing about the situation that Dimitar Berbatov finds himself in when he cost United more than Tevez did City?
Why is Ashley Cole shooting someone with a firearm forgotten way ahead of Balotelli throwing darts at some youth players from a window? He didn't even get close to hitting anyone.
Thankfully when it comes to on-field commentary City are getting a more even handed treatment than in previous seasons.
No journalist or commentator agrees with my prediction though, that City will win the league.
Now before you all go off the deep end and suggest that I am too pro-City to be taken seriously, let me offer you these thoughts.
First, City have an exceptionally strong squad and are still adding to it. They have spent more than 18 months under Roberto Mancini and are easily his team rather than a team in transition. City finally have managerial stability and that fact alone bodes well for the squad.
Of course, United have the ultimate man in charge in Alex Ferguson and are streets ahead of City in terms of having stable management, but the same cannot be said for Chelsea.
Yet, the press are taking a gentle approach to Andre Villas Boas's first season—a season that perhaps Chelsea will have to write off as one where they needed to gel?
That's what was said of City under Mancini, after all.
Liverpool have a lot of new players, a manager finding his way back into the top job and perhaps need time—maybe even a whole season—before they can be considered a real threat.
Arsenal have Arsene Wenger, which if you listen to many Gunners is more of a negative thing than a positive one. They are losing players and seem to be struggling in getting new names. Arsenal could be seen as a work in progress.
Second, I honestly believe City have more players of real quality than any other team in the Premier League.
If I am truly honest, there are few players currently playing for other Premier League teams that would improve on what City have as first choice today. Of course, the transfer window is still open so maybe that will be truer come the end of the summer.
Most of City's starting 11 would easily find there way into one of the other top three teams' starting 11.
Last season, City had the best goalkeeper in the league with Joe Hart and he could walk into Arsenal's No. 1 spot.
Vincent Kompany was a candidate for the best defender in the country as well and he would get into Arsenal or United's lineup.
Nigel De Jong would fit into any of the big teams side and is the best defensive midfield player by a long chalk.
Should City be considered as title contenders?
David Silva is a mercurial genius who United would dearly love to employ in their team, as would any of the others.
Balotelli is a footballer with so much potential I suspect he would be a risk worth taking for Fergie, Wenger or Villas Boas.
Tevez is exactly what Chelsea and Arsenal need and if Fergie had the chance would likely have him back.
And it goes without saying that Aguero is a player every team would have in their first 11.
Micah Richards has been watched by United for a few seasons now and he has never played better.
The unit that is Yaya Toure would waltz into any of the teams in the Premier League—well, more barge in, than waltz in I suspect.
Adam Johnson and James Milner would find homes at Stamford Bridge, Anfield, the Emirates or even Old Trafford, and Dzeko would likely be taken on by one of them as well.
Even with players that all the other teams would want and a settled manager, City can't seem to convince the astute members of the press that they can win the league. Why?
Will that change anything in the favour of City? Somehow I don't think so.
It must be considered a positive sign that the average prediction across 30-plus journalists suggests that City will end the season in the No. 2 spot.
That means that City won't improve much though, as they finished with the same points as Chelsea last season, technically tying them for the No. 2 spot—if you allow me a little leeway.
Here is my prediction: There will be far more talk of City as champions after the first 10 games of the season.
In fact, I predict that a majority of the journalists will tip City as champions by then.
They just need to catch up with what's going on.