There has been serious business among English Premier Clubs mid-week as some had to withstand stiff challenges of teams from lower competitions when the Capital One Cup competition kicked off.
unlike the reigning Premier Champions- Manchester City who were eliminated at home to Aston Villa, the two Premier League title contenders Manchester United and Chelsea both winning rather comfortably against Wolverhampton Wonderers and Newcastle United 6-0 and 2-1 respectively.
The Gunners also won 6-1 against Championship side Coventry at Emirates Stadium while Tottenham and the holder-Liverpool strolled into the last sixteen.
This makes the race for the Premier League title stiffer at an early stage as either Chelsea or Man United will remain with the Cup final ambitions. The two have been drawn to meet in the next round at Stanford Bridge.
So with the Red Devils or Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham and Liverpool still in the domestic cup, EUFA Champions and Europa League, the league title chase becomes even trickier, meaning the most strategic gaffer with take the title- come May 2013.
This is on the premise that reigning champions Man City can now focus on the Champions League and defending the league title by even paying less attention to FA Cup.
And in relative terms, Man City have a broader competitive squad with enough world class players who can save Roberto Mancini when faced with injury scares and suspensions, something that will undoubtedly affect his opponents.
Nevertheless, having such an enviable team alone isn’t enough to win games and trophies; it requires a gaffer who is a renowned disciplinarian, experienced with English football and far-sighted to even tame the stubborn players.
Remember the controversy that erupted last season between Mancini and the Argentinean international Carlos Tevez? Wouldn’t the reigning champions have won the title convincingly rather than on mere goal difference had that storm not happened?
A team like City, with such a big squad full of world class pros scrambling for a place in the first XI, requires a considerate strategist, or else the more ambitious players will opt for alternative clubs where they can be assured of regular first team football.
Even clubs like Liverpool that are currently without the financial might to attract world class players may overcome the challenge when and ONLY if the manager is strategic enough to use the merger resources profitably.
For instance, if Branden Rodgers had the means to sign more experienced internationals, he wouldn’t have gambled starting with kids like Jerome Sinclair 16, Raheem Starling 17, Andre Wisdom 18, Jack Robinson 19 and other academy youngsters that have been thrown in the lion’s den thus far this season.
Branden was quoted after the Wednesday Capital One match against West Bromwich Albion: “I’ve only 12 fit senior players which is incredible. But my young players have the courage to get on the ball and they’re willing to learn.”
Indeed like the gaffer happily said after the match, 99.9 per cent of people watching had thought it would be a comfortable win for the more experienced West Brom side- that had won the opening league game against Liverpool 2-0.