It comes as no surprise that the battle for the English Premier League title has come down to a battle between the two Manchester clubs, after all United are always in the hunt and City have spent many millions in their bid to catch up with their neighbours.
Yet what is surprising is that for both teams that title is the only piece of silverware that they can win for the remainder of the season.
Both clubs being eliminated from the group stages of the Champions League seemed unlikely when the competition began yet that is exactly what happened, and following that exit there was, for many, the blithe assumption that they would march together towards unhindered Europa Cup “glory”.
That glory though proved to be as elusive as Carlos Tevez when a late substitute is needed as both teams were completely outplayed in just their second tie of the competition.
Align that European failure with exits from the two domestic cup competitions and you are left with a title run in that we haven’t seen for some time.
Manchester United and their fans have grown accustomed to entering the final stages of the season battling away on at least two fronts, and in recent years at least one of their challengers have been in the same position; but not this time around.
This time around both clubs face a run in in which only injuries prevent their respective managers from picking the best eleven week and week out and that simple fact may have decisively changed the whole dynamic of the race.
For although much has been made of the advantage that United have in an easier fixture list for the remaining games it could turn out to be their failure to do anything of worth in any other competition that is their greatest asset.
If there is one area in which they are weaker than City this season (and most likely for the foreseeable future) it is in the area of squad depth, as City’s millions have allowed them to amass a group of players in which each one is not only capable of starting a Premier League game but are, almost to a man, proven medal winners or internationals.
Compare that to the alternatives on offer for Sir Alex Ferguson where the likes of the da Silva twins, Berbatov and Michael Owen are less than likely to earn a start for the rest of the season and, somewhat improbably, Paul Scholes had to be brought out of retirement to provide some quality in midfield.
If he were forced to juggle his squad because of the high number of upcoming games than there is no doubt that the United manager would be facing some unwelcome decisions, but as it stands he should be able to make do with fourteen or fifteen players that he trusts absolutely, and that maximization of his limited resources may be the factor that brings the title back to Old Trafford.
Nobody at United wanted to fail in all those cup competitions, but that failure may turn out to be the key to their Premier League success.
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