The Waiting Game

Football image
This free google image ‘ball on pitch’ gathers dust as it waits for the title race to be somewhat exciting again.

More than any other league in the world, the Premier League has clubs that have experienced elongated periods of domestic success who are now being starved of that season upon season. The most prime example of course being Manchester United, who since the departure of their legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson have struggled to get anywhere near the heights he took them to during his historic, trophy laden reign at the club. Likewise, Arsenal, after the drawn out and painful exit of the once great Arsene Wenger are seemingly too busy putting out whatever fire pops up next to be worrying about a credible title challenge. Chelsea, though to a lesser extent (having won the league as recently as 2017), find themselves as top four contenders rather than title contenders as they so often have been since Roman Abramovich’s arrival to the club in 2003.

And if you follow football at any capacity you will know the reason why these three clubs are now playing second, third and whatever fiddle they can find. Two men, Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp. The former, after a stuttering start to life in England took the league by the scruff of the neck from 2017 onwards as his Manchester City side broke record after record to win back to back titles with a ridiculous total of 198 points. Figures basically unheard of in the premier league’s almost thirty year history. It is only an inconsistent first half of the season that has some doubting Pep’s position at City however if you look at his overall impact in England then you’d be a fool to begin questioning him.

As in Guardiola’s defence he perhaps didn’t see the red wrecking ball coming from behind in the form of Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool. As after a frustrating start to life on Merseyside Klopp has now fully settled into his role and began to own it as he did at Dortmund. After finally breaking his Liverpudlian trophy hoodoo with a brilliant Champions League triumph last season, his team are streets ahead in the league this year and only a catastrophic fall from grace will deny them their first league title in thirty years. And not to forget their 97 point league tally from last season would have been enough to comfortably win the title in any era that didn’t have Pep Guardiola’s City in it. However, I am telling something you probably already know, City and Liverpool are a country mile ahead of the competition domestically at the moment and let’s face it if Liverpool continue as they are they could put themselves into a league of their own.

So the question is, what are the likes of United, Arsenal and Chelsea meant to do? And answer simply may be to wait. For the departures of the aforementioned managers that is. Many predict that Guardiola’s time at City could end in the next season or two, though it could be argued he will want to win the Champions League with City before he does so. Klopp however after hinting at a year long football sabbatical when his former contract ended in 2022, decided instead to extend his deal at Liverpool 2024, which is ultimate good news/bad news scenario for many around the country. As with the rate his still developing Liverpool side are going, you simply cannot see any other team besides a rejuvenated City getting close to them domestically. 2024, that’s four years away, a likely four year period without a league trophy for the former dominant forces of the premier league.

Of course it isn’t that cut and dry, some might hope that the current rebuilding processes under Lampard, Solskjaer and Arteta will heavily exceed current expectations meaning that  league glory will not be monopolised between Liverpool red and City blue. Though at this moment in time that seems unlikely with the highest placed club out of the above trio being a whopping twenty-five points behind Liverpool at present. In fact Chelsea, who lie currently in fourth are closer to the relegation zone they are to Liverpool. So it looks as though simply waiting out an incoming era of Liverpool/City dominance may be the way to go.

There are other issues at hand though when it comes to waiting and hoping that both City and Liverpool decline to the point where the chasing pack can gather hope once more. Tottenham have still grand ambitions themselves and could be well placed to strike once Klopp and Pep leave British shores for good. And in appointing Jose Mourinho they have signalled that they at least intend to challenge again sooner rather than later instead of rebuilding Poch’s former crumbling empire. Leicester of course stunned the world in 2016 yet their elevation to the top three of the league feels much more sustainable this time around. Their improvement this season displays how a club with a young. hungry squad and a very good manager can achieve excellent levels of consistency.

And there lies the problem for the rest of traditional top six when it comes to simply waiting out Klopp’s and Pep’s departures, if they rebuild and plateau for too long a hungry pack of teams behind them could leapfrog them and make the situation even worse. And as mentioned before on thesixyardring, modern society isn’t really one for waiting about for any length of time. Fans all over the country plead for patience yet deep down you wonder if they truly believe in what they are saying. Does patience in top flight football even exist in 2020? The best thing to do may to be batten down the hatches and wait out the current storm that is Liverpool and Man City yet you wonder if a club like Manchester United are in a position to do so. Fans want the results of old and thus short term-ism is hard to resist after an already lengthy time in the cold. It’ll be fascinating to witness how the faltering giants of English football attempt to find their feet once more.

If you enjoyed this article or any others on thesixyardring feel free to like/share/RT them or alternatively mention them to friends as you all wonder if United are considering an Irishman style de-aging of Ferguson.

 

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