It’s a huge weekend for… Mancini, Ferguson, Wenger and QPR
There is a train of thought which suggests that Roberto Mancini is rather lucky to still be in a job. Given the pedigree of his side (not to mention the incredible budget to which he is working) the Premier League title last season should have been the bare minimum.
City’s squad, on paper at least, contains a higher quality than their rivals, and therefore domestic success should be assumed. The Italian’s remit this season should presumably have been to build on last season and effect an improvement in the Champions League.
City’s group was tough, but they have regressed, and if they lose to United on Sunday they will be six points off the lead and dumped out of all European competition by early December. Certainly not ideal
It has been exactly the sort of season that a 70-year-old could do without. united have now been behind in an astonishing 16 games this season, a ridiculous statistic.
But this is not Fergie’s way. The Scot is happy for his teams to be entertaining, but he is thinking more 6-0 than 4-3. His side’s profligacy in defence will be more than a touch alarming.
Given that United conceded six in the first fixture between the clubs last season, something may give, but now is the time for the club’s main players to stand and be counted. One suspects that they wouldn’t dare not do.
With Mark Hughes finally gone, Monsieur Wenger is now the manager under most pressure in the Premier League (at least if we ignore and endure Chelsea’s continuous shitstorm.
The performance against Swansea last week almost formed a line in the sand, for me. Arsenal weren’t just beaten but destroyed by their opponents. There was no invention, verve, invention or spark, and this felt like the end of an era.
Wenger’s issue this season is that money has this time been spent. It is a lot more difficult to criticise the board when £38 million has been splashed on three players in Giroud, Podolski and Cazorla.
West Brom this weekend, and another chance to impress on supporters that a temporary blip can be overcome. Fail to win again and it begins to feel like the final pages of the last chapter are being read.
For all my hatred of the tabloid fawning over ‘Arry, it is clear than in the circumstances he was the best man for the job at Loftus Road, and his ability to motivate established players will be crucial in the club’s fight against relegation.
However, the problem remains stark. Redknapp could not have wished for a more ideal first fixture, but Villa at home was allowed to pass by. For QPR to hit 40 points, they now need to take three points from every two matches.
The current run of Wigan (a), Fulham (h), Newcastle (a) and West Brom (h) will be a defining period for Rangers. Seven points or more and things may be back on track, but four or less and crisis looms, leaving the club requiring 30 points from the second half of the season.