independent

Tuesday 17 July 2018

City in a different league to the rest

Weird Wide World of Sport

Nemanja Matic of Manchester United gets above Kevin De Bruyne of Manchester City
Nemanja Matic of Manchester United gets above Kevin De Bruyne of Manchester City

Dave Devereux

So there you have it, it's all over.

The turkey and ham haven't even been ordered yet, and the children's Santa letters have just about been slotted into the post box to wing their way to the North Pole and already the Premier League champions for the 2017/'18 season have been crowned.

Romelu Lukaku, who after a promising start, is turning out to be about as potent as an out of date, odourless bottle of Brut, may have scuppered a gilt-edged chance to rescue a draw for Man United on Sunday, but, in truth, it would have been the greatest case of daylight robbery since Dick Turpin threw his leg over a horse if the Old Trafford crew had taken anything from the game. Mourinho can moan all he likes about decisions going against them, the simple truth is Manchester City were in a different class to their local rivals, and have been all season.

A few overexcited United fans may have thought their boys had wrapped up the league title by early September after a few facile wins over some cannon-fodder, but it was predictably a case of flattering to deceive.

It's as obvious as Arjen Robben dive that Jose Mourinho never has and never will be a good fit for the Red Devils. He seems to spend more of his time worrying about the opposition than formulating an attacking plan of his his own, leading to a negative approach that's far from easy on the eye.

That kind of mindset is just about bearable if you're the likes of Sam Allardyce trying to stave off the threat of relegation, but at one of the biggest clubs in the world it's simply unacceptable.

Finishing last season with a couple of trophies that they would normally scoff at, gongs that would be far from top of their wish list despite one offering the Holy Grail of Champions League football, papered over a mountain of cracks for the Man United faithful.

City, on the other hand, will be vying for all the big prizes this season as they continue to set new standards, with domestic records tumbling all around them. Sunday's victory was their 14th consecutive league win and who knows when that extraordinary run will be halted?

United fans must look at the football that their city neighbours are producing with a massive helping of envy and understandably so. Both clubs have splashed around obnoxious amounts of cash, but only one has done it prudently and they are reaping rich dividends for their investment.

It's not all about money though, as Pep Guardiola's work on the training ground is obviously paying off. A quick look at the strides made by Raheem Sterling is testament to that.

The Manchester City boss certainly has the correct philosophy as well as tacticul acumen, but his ability to work with players, improve them and get them all singing off of the same hymn sheet is where his genius really lies.

Speaking of geniuses I spent Sunday evening watching Ronnie O'Sullivan win his record-equalling sixth UK Championship title in style by simply outclassing the talented Shaun Murphy.

At the ripe old age of 42 The Rocket is playing as good, if not better, than ever and there's really no argument anymore that he's the best to ever have picked up a cue.

Steve Davis and Stephen Hendry may have completely dominated in their hey-days in the '80s and '90s respectively, but there's no denying that the overall standard now is on a completely different plane and O'Sullivan still manages to mesmerize.

Manchester City still have a long way to go to if they are to leave a legacy as rich as the brilliant O'Sullivan, but they're certainly heading in the right direction.

Wexford People

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