Based on this weekend’s opening fixtures as the new 2013/14 Premier League season kicked off, Manchester is most certainly the style capital of English football.
In Spain they Barcelona and Madrid, in Italy it’s Milan and Turin, in Germany it’s Munich and Dortmund – in England over the past decade, the most stylish football clubs have been based in Manchester and London.
Manchester United are the most successful club in English history and remain the reigning champions of the Premier League but under Sir Alex Ferguson, they were not always the most attractive team to watch. Of course, at Old Trafford, aptly nicknamed the Theatre of Dreams, there is always a spectacle to behold and the drama to go with it.
In the last decade Arsenal and Chelsea have revamped and restyled themselves – the former under management of Arsene Wenger was for the end of the 1990’s and the early 2000’s undoubtedly the most stylish and attractive team to watch play.
With the likes of Dennis Bergkamp, Thierry Henry, Robert Pires and Cesc Fabregas, Arsenal not only won but they did it in style. In recent years their squad has lacked the quality to truly mesmerize their disenchanted audience at the Emirates and the emergence of Chelsea on the other side of the capital saw the Gunners’ slide down and out of the title race.
However, under ten different managers in ten years, Chelsea have not overall been considered a particularly ‘attractive’ team to watch – in fact one of the cited factors for Jose Mourinho’s ousting in 2007 was his tendency to employ tactics that made the football a tad dull, even though it was undoubtedly effective.
Andre Villas-Boas and his assistant-turned-replacement Roberto Di Matteo went to great lengths to restyle the team in the image of Barcelona, bringing in flair players like Juan Mata and Oscar to make the football more watchable but with Mourinho back in charge, that may well be subject to change.
After the weekend’s opening games, one can only draw the conclusion that Manchester has completely outclassed the English capital in terms of it’s style of football and Manchester City are undoubtedly played the beautiful game of the weekend.
The triangles in midfield and on the edge of the area between David Silva, Yaya Toure and Sergio Aguero were sublime and some of the through balls, the technique and imagination in tight situations brought back the ‘wow’ element that had been missing in patches last term.
Whilst we marveled at Robin van Persie at United last term, there was not quite the same awe for the team play as a whole. The lack of a quality playmaker really sucks the attractiveness out of United’s football.
The days when Cristiano Ronaldo left us with our mouths agape are long gone and apart from the Dutchman up front there is a lot more winning ugly than there is winning pretty with United.
Over at the Etihad there is quality, creativity and imagination in abundance – even looking at Pellegrini’s bench on Monday that featured Nasri, Alvaro Negredo, James Milner, and Javi Garcia, it’s clear just how many options the boss has at his disposal – even without new signing Stevan Jovetic.
I’m not a Manchester City fan but I am very much looking forward to seeing them play this season – based on Monday’s night’s performance, they will be joy to behold.