It is one of the most common, overused and tediously boring football clichés, yet a true one: football is a team sport.
We are constantly reminded that “individuals win games” while “teams win trophies” or, to describe it in a way that would make David Cameron proud, “the team is in this together” and “we win together and lose together”.
Boring and predictable as it might sound, there’s some truth to it, as exemplified by the latest outcomes of the title race.
All year we’ve been treated to a battle between the noveau riche of Manchester City – a collection of egos that would rival the backstage of a Hollywood premiere – with literally too much money on their hands for their own good and Manchester United, a team managed by the son of a working class area of Glasgow.
United have spent hefty fees during Fergie’s reign but the siege mentality of togetherness and hard work has been ingrained for free by the Scot onto his players.
The “United in decline” trumpets got even louder earlier this season as the Old Trafford side were humiliated at home by their neighbours, fell five points behind them in the league and were knocked out in the three cups.
City, on the other hand looked destined to sail to the title, but were ultimately defeated by their own worst enemy. City themselves.
As United huffed and puffed to close the gap, City’s dressing room started to resemble a soap opera – and a bad one at that – where players were allowed to take three months off to play golf in South America before being allowed back into the team and acclaimed as saviours despite Mancini’s claims that “Tevez will never play for City again.”
United, even in time of deep crisis, have always had a certainty: Fergie has one word and one word only. Players that have dared to step on the wrong side of him have been shown the door, no matter how good or how adored by the fans they were.
“No one is bigger than Manchester United,” said Sir Alex a few years back, and he still maintains the same policy.
Compare this to Mancini’s ridiculous management of the Balotelli saga – criticised in public and yet defended by his own manager who has always seemed intent to laugh off the problems created by the Italian – and the dressing room unrest that have filtered out of City’s camp as Mancini declared that the players shouldn’t worry about handling Balotelli, therefore undermining his team’s cohesion and unity.
Imagine Sir Alex taking to the papers to claim he’s in a charge of the dressing room? If it sounds like madness it’s because it is!
A bit like thinking that the majority of City players are driven by the same passion and love for the club that has been drummed into their red counterparts for the last 25 years.
Daniele Cancian (@MUFC_dan87)
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