United and Chelsea have yet to really convince

Cian Carroll

Reporter:

Cian Carroll

We’re just over the halfway mark now. 22 games gone; 16 to go. At the start of this season, I wrote about how close and competitive this season would be and so it has come to pass. Nine points separate 1st and 6th. Six points separate 10th and last. Nothing is settled. Everything is to play for.

We’re just over the halfway mark now. 22 games gone; 16 to go. At the start of this season, I wrote about how close and competitive this season would be and so it has come to pass. Nine points separate 1st and 6th. Six points separate 10th and last. Nothing is settled. Everything is to play for.

DISAPPOINTMENTS

Many would have been left open-mouthed at the prospect of Manchester United languishing in 7th, 14 points off Arsenal in top spot but that’s now the reality of the situation that faces the champions.

They now face an arduous task in trying to qualify for next year’s Champions League never mind regaining their title and that reality has slapped the Glazers into action as they smashed the club’s transfer record to bring in Juan Mata from Chelsea.

For United and Moyes’ sake, I hope that’s not the end of their signings as, frankly, I don’t think Mata alone is enough to turn this around.

It’s a bit of a left field choice in this category but Jose Mourinho’s return to the Premier League has left me underwhelmed, so far. While Chelsea still battle at the right end of the table, they’ve done so without much flair or fanfare. For all the talent and money Mourinho has at his disposal, they win games by doing just enough and no more.

It’s pragmatism over idealism, which is okay if you’re a Norwich or West Ham but for a squad so rich in talent as Chelsea’s, I find it all a little uninspiring. That’s not to say it’ll remain that way but up to this point, it’s a B- for Jose.

It wasn’t entirely obvious until this season but Gareth Bale’s departure unmasked just how fortunate Andre Villas Boas was as Spurs’ manager last season. If it weren’t for his last-minute wonder goals, Spurs points total would have been decimated and left AVB’s star waning in the process.

The €100 million fee used by the club to replace Bale was spent on renowned talent from across Europe and yet they still struggled badly, culminating in his sacking in November. Two failed stints in England and that’s that for Villas-Boas. A prodigious career in ruins.

Delights

Two of the major highlights from this season so far, for me, have both come from the same city: Liverpool.

Both the red and blue halves of Merseyside have been an absolute joy to watch. Brendan Rodgers and Roberto Martinez both have reputations for playing free-flowing, attractive football and whilst Rodgers has built on last season’s decent performances, Martinez has built on solid foundations put in place by David Moyes and both clubs have continued to thrive.

With 16 games to go, both stand an excellent chance of making next year’s Champions League and the football they play is a credit to the league.

Many doubted Manuel Pellegrini’s pedigree upon his appointment as the Manchester City manager but whatever doubts anyone had must surely be dispelled by now. Under his stewardship,

City have already racked up over 100 goals in all competitions and potentially could win an unheard of quadruple. New signings such as Jesus Navas and Alvaro Negredo have taken to Premier League football like ducks to water. The entire squad looks like it’s getting stronger by the week.

Under Roberto Mancini, City progressed domestically but flattered to deceive in Europe. Under the Chilean, City have already outgunned Bayern on their home ground and made it to the knockout phase for the first time. From the start of the season up to now, they resemble a snowball that’s threatening to turn into an avalanche.

There have been many other disappointments and delights so far this season but I’ve only got one page and you lot have the attention span of goldfishes so I’m going to leave it there but just over the halfway point, one things for sure: we’re in for some ride between now and the end of May.