If like me, you’ve been following football for more years than you care to remember, you’ll know that nothing is forever. There’s always going to be a faster gunslinger, a kid with a bigger stick. The one thing that doesn’t change is the fact that everything changes. The wheel always turns.
I’m old enough to remember the Leeds United team that dominated English football under Don Revie. The Liverpool teams who did the same to Europe for years on end, and the Nottingham Forest sides shaped by Brian Clough that burnt like a comet, so bright, but so fleeting.
Moving to more recent times, the Premier League era has largely been dominated by three clubs. Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea have cornered the market in league title domination, except for the brief flirtation with glory of Blackburn Rovers. Ferguson’s United have an enviable record. Arsenal had the ‘Invincibles’ and Chelsea won a double, dominated the FA cup in the last six or seven years, and secured a Champions’ League. But as I sad above, nothing is forever, and there’s now a new kid on the block. He’s got a faster gun, and a bigger stick.
When Manuel Pellegrini took over the reins at Eastlands, I wrote an article about how he was the perfect antidote to the turbulent tenure of Roberto Mancini. Here was a steady and experienced hand on the tiller. No maverick Balotelli. No disharmony and sulking substitutes. This man had been around a bit and was the guy to focus the club’s attention on winning football matches. Back page news, not front page scandal. With City now top of the league and averaging a goal per game tally that would make even Barcelona squirm, they are everybody’s favourites to win the title. So, with the huge financial backing behind the club, are we on the cusp of a new and long lasting hegemony. Is it all going to be blue skies for the Sky Blues?
I think the answers, both yes and no. In the short term, say the next four or five years, there’s every likelihood that City will be ‘the team’ to beat if any club wants to win a trophy. They could be the dominant force that city neighbours United have been over recent times. In the longer term however, I doubt it will last. Why do I say that? I do so simply because nothing lasts for ever. I don’t know what will happen to change things, but something will. I didn’t know what was going to Revie’s Leeds dominance, but something did. I didn’t foresee the decline of the rampant Liverpool team, but it still happened. Cloughie’s Forest won successive European Cups, but now languish in the second tier of English football. Ferguson’s now retired. Arsene Wenger is likely to sign a news contract at the emirates, but what will happen when he retires? What about a post-Abramovich Chelsea? The wheel always turns.
So I’d say to City fans that you’re probably in for a few years of glory and triumph, and in fairness those diehard fans who stuck by their club in the hard times have earned their days in the sun, so enjoy them, guys. The beauty of football is in its glorious unpredictability. It’s the only thing about the game that you can predict with certainty.
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