It might not be the best league in the world in terms of quality and style of football, but the entire world agrees that it’s the most glamorous and competitive on the planet. The battle for the top is as intriguing as the dog fight at the bottom of the table. No match is a given. No bookmaker smiles every week. The suspense is neck-breaking.
As we all anticipated, Manchester United were never going to find it easy with the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson. Many United fans and players have only known one man at the helm; Sir Alex. Twenty-six years at one club is legendary in itself, and to have decorated those years with a myriad of trophies is simply exquisite. Following his departure, Moyes became the Chosen one. Many have questioned the rationale behind the appointment, but it beggars believe that Sir Alex would have faulted in perhaps the most important decision of his career. However, with United’s shambolic start to the season, the detractors and the cynics seem to be making their voices heard.
It is true that Moyes had not won a trophy or anything that resembles one in his career. This surely doesn’t help his case. Yet, it is very difficult to argue that he had not enjoyed success, considering the circumstances of his reign at Everton. To manage Everton and United is a different kettle of fish entirely (a point that should be noted while moaning about Lukaku’s loan move to Everton from Chelsea). In addition, one has to doubt if Moyes has the Character to handle a footballing empire like Manchester United. He doesn’t have to possess Mourinho’s theatrics or even Fergie’s vindictive style. On the evidence so far, he lacks the charisma. Also, to bring an overhaul to the entire back room staff is a rash decision that was never going to help David Moyes. Having said that, Moyes was never going to come in and continue a reign of glory immediately. A transitional period was always going to kick in. Suffice it to say, one point that has been glossed over while Moyes have been castigated, is that United left an ailing team. While Robin Van Persie is class, he was never the future. The United midfield was and still is a can of worms, and the duo of Ferdinand and Vidic in defence was always going to be a disaster at some point. The duo were once world class, but those days are gone. Patrice Evra at left back has had his best days behind him, while the search for a formidable right back continues. David De Gea is surely class, but we know he has some real flaws that are still a part of his game. The purchase of Maroune Fellani was more of a desperate attempt to save face, than it is a ‘transfer ingenuity’. Some will argue that a core of this same team won the league the season before, but a perspective is required here. The Ferguson factor was huge, but beyond that, United’s main rivals were disastrous. The unending change of managers had a toll on Chelsea’s campaign, City were not up for the challenge, and Arsenal were still busy being Arsenal. Thus, this is the core of United’s misdemeanor.
However, across North London, it is a different song. After losing at home on match day one to an average Aston Villa team, Arsene Wenger’s boys have emerged in ruthless form. Though the real test so far has been Spurs, Napoli and Dortmund (all at home), the results have not been bad. A lot has been said about the reasons why Arsenal have suddenly regained their swagger. In terms of transfer, they did not do a lot business, but, boy! Is the capture of Mesut Ozil from Real Madrid not a real steal! Such is the impact one real quality signing brings to a team. The purchase of Ozil doesn’t just improve Arsenal’s football; it lifts the morale of the entire team. Special mention should go to Aaron Ramsey, who has found a devastating form. It is a wonder what would have become of Ramsey had Yohan Cabaye purchase from Newcastle had been a success, as many of their fans clamored for. Arsenal’s recent progress is again a vindication to Wenger’s way of life at the Emirate. For their fans that have lived in almost a decade of heartbreaks, they surely deserve the right to hope again. It is dangerous for Arsenal to get carried away. However, Arsenal badly needs a trophy, any trophy. Before the start of the season, few Arsenal fans expected their team to challenge for the trophy and become champions, but the change of events at the Emirate has changed their aspirations. We can surely say that Arsenal is back if they remain on top of the league at the turn of the year, and are still in with a loud shout of winning at least, another silverware.
It remains to be seen if Moyes appointment was a masterstroke, or a deft calamity. To get the jury out now on his reign at United will be too premature. The critics must learn to criticize with a perspective. Sir Alex left United in bad shape. Sad as it sounds, it is the reality. But, Moyes must begin to show some signs of ingenuity in his tactics and style to allay the fears and great expectations that comes with being a coach at Manchester United. For Arsenal, it is good to dream again. However, the trio of Wenger, the players and the fans must realize that nothing is won yet. The season is still a marathon. At the end of the campaign, the slick football, the Ozilmanic, the ecstacy will all be forgotten. What will matter is if they have been able to end the decade of barrenness. However, you have to admit that for the first time since the days of the invincible, there is a particular mojo about the gunners now. Is it a false dawn that will fizzle away? Or are Arsenal really back? These are questions that only time will answer. For now, let’s give Arsenal their due, as their football at times; have kept us in cloud nine so far this season.