Thursday, 27 October 2016

What the Manchester derby told us about the state of the game in Manchester

It was derby time in Manchester last night. I have spent the week in the city looking at the state of the game here and how the future looks for the two clubs. It could be looked at as a game in the middle of a crisis in the footballing city.Going into the game there has been much criticism-

  • Manchester United lost 4-0 to Chelsea on Sunday after a poor showing at Liverpool the week before
  • Jose Mourinho has spoken about his unhappiness living in the city
  • Pep Guardiola's City went into the match on a streak of 5 games without a win
  • The old guard of Vincent Kompany and Sergio Aguero seem to be out of favour
But in and around the city of Manchester you couldn't sense any panic or even much frustration towards the clubs or the players.These are generally proper football fans that love their club, are happy with the success that they have had but don't feel as though they are entitled to it. Contrast that to the glory-hunting Manchester United fan from other parts of the country and the globe. The fact that the United fans were still out-singing the Chelsea home support while being 4-0 down in Sunday shows that these are people who know their football and love their club.

Near the Old Trafford stadium I spoke to Mike, a United fan that sees a future that doesn't look as rosy as the recent past but will still support the club all the same.

"I can see us going down the same route as Liverpool did after their domination. Football goes in cycles and they have not really been near to winning the title again in over 25 years. I'd like to see them up there challenging for titles with us, but losing out to us every time! We have a future where we could go down the same road. I see Mourinho as a manager that could go one way or another. He could stay for 15 years and we could go on a run of winning trophies every year again or he could end up braking the club. It is a bit of a crossroads," said Mike.

The game does move on and it would be difficult to reliably predict what the future holds for the club. The longer they are out of the Champions League then the more they have to spend in wages to attract the big starts and the less likely it is that they will get another Cristiano Ronaldo or even another David De Gea.Mourinho is a gamble that the Glazers thought they just had to make after the failures of David Moyes and Louis van Gaal. Where the club goes from here is in his hands.

On the other side of the divide is the light blue half of Manchester. The game last night ended in defeat so Pep Guardiola is facing probably his worst managerial crisis - six games without a win. After the amazing start to the season not many would have predicted this but it is happening. In the club shop on Market Street they are selling those detested half-and-half scarves and training tops with the Champions League logo alongside merchandise from their sister clubs in New York, Yokohama and Melbourne. This is big business.

But without the players to enact his tactical game, and in possible the wrong league and conditions to do it, Pep is fining managerial life tough for probably the first time. It is not a full-blown crisis and it won't cost him his job but clearly there is work to do.

I spoke to Peter who lives and works in the city. He didn't buy into the Guardiola project but backs the club to get it right, "It will take time. He can't turn all of these Premier League players into La Liga players overnight. It looks like tactically he knows what he wants but the players aren't quite there yet. Maybe in a few months we will look back on this as part of the transition. I certainly hope so."

That was before the match. That was before the defeat in the derby. Although it was 'only' the EFL Cup and there were run outs for some players that were not in the usual first team it will still hurt. Manchester City's owners have bankrolled the club to deliver success and this current run of form and a tame loss to their neighbours isn't part of the blueprint.

What happens next really is down to Pep.

No comments:

Post a Comment