Blue Moon Rising

And so another blue moon rises over the city of Manchester sending azure beams of light down over the rest of the country. It’s becoming a habit. Two titles in three years, coupled with the spectacular implosion of Manchester United must make the red half of that city a pretty miserable place to be right now.

City win title

The final round of games may have lacked the gut wrenching drama of ‘Aguerooooo Day’ two years ago but taken as a whole the 2013-2014 season must surely go down as the most consistently entertaining in Premier League history.

Second place Liverpool joined City in smashing through the 100 goal barrier, a remarkable statistic in itself. That Liverpool, so so close to taking the crown themselves, also shipped 50 goals at the other end (the first time they’d been so defensively porous since 1914-15) beggars belief. Some of the football played by these two sides this season has been breathtaking. We must hope the fact they finished first and second will encourage managers elsewhere to take note and try to adopt a similar attack-minded strategy next season. Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea, with their, shall we say less than eye-catching style, were shoved down into third place though one senses they have eyes already fixed firmly on next season.

Man City will rightly take the immediate plaudits. They’ve usurped their neighbours in the most spectacular fashion and there is now a serious gap in quality between the two sides. Well, there’s often been a serious gap, but City are now on the right side of it for once. Can the imminent appointment of Dutchman Luis van Gaal arrest United’s slide? I think it’s extremely doubtful. Momentum is a big thing in sport and United have not only stalled but are now sliding, making City’s acceleration away from them even more pronounced.

In Yaya Toure, David Silva and Sergio Aguero City possess three of the most sublimely talented footballers in the world. The scary thing for the rest of the Premier League is that due to injuries the trio have thus far spent little time together on the pitch. When that changes expect City to discover an even higher gear.

gerrardandsuarez

As for Liverpool surely when the dust of disappointment settles they can look back on the season with huge satisfaction. A lot of criticism has come their way for the gung-ho approach they’ve taken during matches, games in which many feel they’d have fared better with a more conservative tack. But manager Brendan Rodgers is no fool. He’s far more pragmatic than he’s given credit for and has merely set his team up to extract the best of the talents he has at his disposal. In a limited squad he has allowed for the genuine world class talents of Luis Suarez (a deserved Footballer of the Year) to flourish and has utilised the dazzling pace and skills of Raheem Sterling and Philippe Coutinho.

Their late season 3:3 draw against Crystal Palace was seen as symptomatic of their naivety, hurtling forward looking for more goals when it would have been safer to shut up shop and protect the 3:0 lead they had. Yet it was perfectly legitimate for a side that had had so much success playing in that particular way all season to continue ploughing forward as the game moved to a close. Their inexplicable collapse was more symptomatic of a sudden catastrophic failure of belief. It happens. The pressure of expectancy does strange things and so much of the game is played in the head.

Having said that I feel that next season Liverpool may be better served by fewer goals going in at both ends of the pitch. There are already signs that opponents will pack their defences and sit deep to prevent themselves being overwhelmed by swashbuckling attacking play. When that happens Liverpool will have to keep their own defensive discipline. Far too often this season they didn’t and were caught by sucker punches.

If the thrilling stuff played by the top two sides builds on the recent season on season trend for attractive football it’s almost as comforting to see that certain other things never change. The mid table drabness of Aston Villa for example, and the always-managing-to-under-achieve Tottenham Hotspur. Everton too, despite the makeover, the botox and the new chic hairstyle, remain the Premier League bridesmaids. They have managed to secure themselves an invite to some European action next season so we’ll see how that works for them. For the time being the only blue light they can bathe in is coming from Manchester.

 

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