Does the Citizens’ Premier League triumph this season mean that they are going to dominate English football for years to come?
Are Manchester City poised to dominate English football in the same way that Liverpool did in the 1980s and Manchester United in the 1990s and early 2000s? Remember how unstoppable the Red Devils were between 1999 and 2001? Remember how insufferable their fans were?
In some ways it looks like it. City have a very talented and hungry young team playing an exciting brand of football, and they will be eager to do it all again next season. They now have the all-important stability at the club, with a manager in Manuel Pellegrini who does not cause friction in the dressing room in the same way as his predecessor Roberto Mancini did.
The crucial point that could potentially make this ‘the Manchester City era’ is that the club’s owners do not meddle in anything the same way as Roman Abramovich does at Chelsea. In fact, they do not interfere at all. Instead Pellegrini will get whatever he needs to win the title again and will not be undermined.
However, I still do not think that City will dominate English football over the coming years. This is partly because, despite all of their money spent, neither of City’s titles has been won in the second-gear-mode that Manchester United displayed in 2000 and 2001. Most importantly, Chelsea will come back much stronger next season, with the addition of a much-needed 20-goals-a season-striker in Diego Costa. When this is combined with their rock-solid defence, which let in 10 fewer goals than the Citizens, then I think they may in fact win the Premier League fairly comfortably. Chelsea’s defence is the only reason they finished where they did this campaign.
United will also come back much stronger with a world-class manager in Louis Van Gaal and players wounded by failure and criticism. Will they be ready for a push at the title next season? Perhaps not, but they still have a very talented attacking quartet in Juan Mata, Adnan Januzaj, Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie. If rightly used, then they could be devastating, so you never know.
In my opinion, Liverpool will fade away - just as Newcastle United did after their failed title bid in 1996 - because of the extra burden of playing in the Champions League and the psychological blow of coming so close this season. They may even lose Luis Suarez, especially if he has a good World Cup.
Arsenal will continue to make the same mistakes that lead to them falling short each year, especially as it looks as if Arsene Wenger is going to remain as the manager with a supine board.
So, my prediction for the next season and for the foreseeable future is this: the title race will be between City and Chelsea, and will probably go all the way to the final day of the campaign. However, I think that the London club will just about edge it, especially if the Manchester outfit fail to sign a proper centre-back partner for Vincent Kompany and go further in the Champions League and the FA Cup.
We are not entering an era of one-club dominance, we are entering an era when two, (growing to three when United fully recover) clubs will battle it out for the title. And this will be good for football.