The World Cup means football’s traditional summer recess seems barely to have happened, and it is just a matter of days before the new Premier League season gets underway.
Mancunians don’t just hope for the title to remain in the city, they positively expect it. However, which side of the city, in footballing terms, will be celebrating at season’s end?
Pep Guardiola’s men in blue seemed to be playing in a league of their own last year, and are hot favourites to retain the title, but the red-shirted fraternity has reason to be optimistic. Here, we take a look at the strengths of Manchester’s two dominant teams.
Will City go to even greater heights?
On paper, there is every reason to believe Manchester City will continue their domination. The team has remained settled – after all, why would anyone want to go elsewhere?
The likes of Sterling, De Bruyne and Sane are in their prime. Little surprise, then, that if you log on to the Sporty Trader Website and check out the different bookmakers, you will see they all have Manchester City odds on to retain the title.
That’s well and good, but football isn’t played on paper. Pep Guardiola has been vocal in his aspirations to make this team the most dominant force in Premier League history.
That means eclipsing United’s performance over the Alex Ferguson years, and will require not just back to back titles but three, four, even five.
It’s an immense amount of pressure to put on himself and the club, and it means that City will be the team that every other club wants to beat more than any other.
Guardiola has shrugged off the preseason defeat to Liverpool, saying the team did immensely well to only lose 1-0 given the absence of key players.
However, he has stressed the importance of the forthcoming Community Shield curtain raiser against Chelsea, and the match could be a litmus test for the season to come.
United are in with a real chance
Jose Mourinho seems to have been around forever, but this will only be his third season in charge at Old Trafford. Nevertheless, for a team with such a proud history, three years will be a long time to go without silverware.
Mourinho has brought success and trophies to every role, and given the improvement the team showed from his first year to his second in charge – second in the Premier League and FA Cup losing finalists – there will be an expectation that this should be the year he delivers.
Having the right leadership on the sideline is important, but United also have the firepower out in the middle.
Lingard, Pogba and Matic are as good a midfield unit as you will see anywhere, while Sanchez and Lukuku are a dream team up front.
Add to that the fact that in David De Gea, United arguably has the best goalkeeper on the planet. If Mourinho can bring all those factors together, the 7/1 odds for a United title win seem tempting.
Could Liverpool spoil the party?
Return to those bookie odds for a moment, though, and you will see that United are actually the third ranked team at this stage.
Liverpool are the team that has undergone the biggest transformation during the off-season, and Jurgen Klopp has invested heavily on building a team from the ground up that can take down City.
The team certainly started the way they mean to go on in the pre-season – but we will have to wait till October 6 for them to meet in the Premier League.
Image courtesy of Man City via Twitter, with thanks.