Just like almost everyone else, I was sick and tired of spending the entire close season reading about which player was rumoured to go from where to where!
Yes, those primarily unbased rumours help to sell newspapers, they do create interest amongst the fans but they mean absolutely nothing to the title chances of the various challengers.
This club or that sold and bought one big name or another, so what? Is it the players that makes the difference to clinching the Premiership? I think not!
No matter how great the signings appear to be on paper, we are not talking about chess pieces or robots but mere humans who have to be handled and managed effectively if their optimum value is to be realised.
It’s where the major difference lies and it’s also where Manchester United hold a significant advantage.
Ask yourself if say Cristiano Ronaldo would have developed in the way he did had he gone to a different club and a different manager when he left Portugal?
My point is that all else being equal, it’s the manager just as much if not more than his players which makes the difference between winners and not quite getting there!
Last season was a crystal clear example. Imagine if Sir Alex was at Anfield instead of Benitez? The title would have landed at Anfield, of that there can be no doubt. Rafa did not have the know how of what was required last season and he will still not have it the next.
That’s why I don’t regard players comings and goings as the be all and end all for success. Just look at who manages the main challengers…
Carlo Ancelotti – Brand new to the Premier League with a team of ageining and highly egotistical ‘stars’. Who can envy his job as Felipe Scolari soon found out last season?
Mark Hughes – Relatively inexperienced manager with a squad full of big names with egos to match and an owner demanding results. You almost have to feel sorry for him.
Rafa Benitez – One almost has to feel sympathy for the Spaniard. He’s faced with passionate fans who DEMAND a first Premiership victory, owners who are desperate to sell the club, a team who relies on just two world class players to get success and a distinct lack of knowledge on what’s needed to win an English Premiership as was so dramatically made clear last season…
Arsene Wenger – A great manager who is highly respected and has the knowledge of what’s required to win a Premiership. Interesting to note that he’s the ONLY current manager in the Premier League apart from Sir Alex who has experienced that success. Not many may agree but I see Arsenal, Wenger and history as United’s main danger in achieving four titles in a row.
So who will we be celebrating come May 2010? Signing great players makes a huge difference to a clubs chances of winning the Premiership, having a GREAT manager is much more crucial however which is why Manchester United has a huge advantage on its challengers.