A league table is a pretty good indicator of who is best. To win the league you need a fantastic first 11, however that doesn’t necessarily mean the best squad, it might just be a great team being lucky with injuries and fitness, and having a strong manager.
I genuinely believe Roberto Mancini is building an exceptional squad on the East side of this rainy City. I think in terms of first 11 though the dominance of Manchester United is undeniable, but in the spirit of football being a squad game I am going to attempt to work out who has the better squad.
I will no doubt be dubbed ‘bitter’ by many United fans on the back of this, but to clarify I am picking based on the current season, for example whilst Ryan Giggs has been a fantastic footballer and one of the best to grace the Premiership, in 2011 I would prefer David Silva – I will be going off what players offer their respective teams today, not at their peak.
United – Edwin van der Sar, Tomasz Kuszczak, Anders Lindegaard
City – Joe Hart, Shay Given, Stuart Taylor
A couple of months ago I would have awarded this straight to City, Hart was in great form and Given is a far better backup than Kuszczak. In recent weeks however Hart has made some mistakes and van der Sar shows no signs of aging (despite his impending retirement). I think overall I will still award this to City, but it’s a close call.
United – Neville, Evra, Brown, Fabio, Rafael, O’Shea
City – Boateng, Kolarov, Richards, Zabaleta, Lescott
Evra is the best left back in the world for me, and Rafael is showing buckets of potential and will be fantastic once he tightens up the defensive side of his game. Brown and O’Shea are strong cover and provide balance for a more defensive shape. Mancini seems unsure what his best fullbacks are, Boateng has looked unconvincing, Richards is slowly improving, Kolarov is now getting upto speed and could potentially be a fine player and Zabaleta is a fan favourite for intensity, passion and drive. United take this one in my mind though.
United – Ferdinand, Brown, Smalling, Vidic, Evans
City – Boateng, Boyata, Kompany, Lescott, Toure, Richards
Vidic and Kompany are the best of the lot in my opinion. The years are catching up with Ferdinand and I am not sure he can be relied upon for a full season. Smalling has potential but isn’t the finished article and I have doubts over Evans. As for City, Toure and Lescott do a decent job but are not consistent enough, Boyata has bags of potential and Boateng looks a better CB than FB. United are stronger here, but when City find a better partner for Kompany I think the power may shift to the other side.
United – Hargreaves, Anderson, Giggs, Carrick, Scholes, Fletcher, Gibson
City – Barry, Milner, Vieira, Yaya Toure, Michael Johnson, Nigel De Jong
Most United fans I speak too concede this is their problem area and I think its an area that City are immensely strong. Yaya, NDJ and Barry form a really tight three and moving Milner in for Barry would improve it further. The more advanced position that Yaya Toure takes up at City makes him a real presence coming forward and I don’t think there are many better sitters in the country than De Jong.
Fletcher is a cracking terrier for United, but I think playing for a weaker side he would struggle, Anderson seems to be getting on track again after injury set backs and has a bright future. Giggs and Scholes are still great footballers, but they aren’t what they were in the past and Ferguson will surely be looking to replace them and strengthen this part of the team. This one goes to City for me.
United – Giggs, Park, Nani, Valencia, Bebe, Obertan
City – Silva, Milner, Adam Johnson, Wright – Phillips, Balotelli, Tevez, Jo
Nani is finally stepping out of the shadow cast by Cristiano Ronaldo after admirable persistant from Ferguson. Valencia looks a decent player and when he comes back from injury will have a big part to play but I am not sure if he is good enough for United long term. Outside of those 2 I am dubious, Park is a real worker but the quality is sometimes lacking. Bebe and Obertan seem too far from the first team to really judge at this point. City on the other hand have Silva, Adam Johnson, Balotelli and Tevez all playing from wide areas (in support of Dzeko) in quite a fluid system and I think they ensure another point for the City squad.
United – Berbatov, Rooney, Hernandez, Bebe, Owen
City- Balotelli, Dzeko, Jo, Tevez
Dzeko looks a good prospect but is impossible to judge on the back of only a few games, Tevez is clearly a fantastic player and depending on formation is just as good up front or coming in from the wing, Balotelli again shows great potential, strong, quick and a good finisher, alas he appears somewhat insane! In Berbatov, Rooney and Hernandez however United look just as strong.
Berbatov is finally showing himself to be the player United paid for, and Rooney is finding his form again. Since City are stronger on the wings based on the principle that Tevez and Balotelli will play there a lot, this goes to United, Berbatov and Rooney look far more of a threat than most top flight strike partnerships currently.
Well there we have it, both sides with 3. I promise I didn’t fix it to keep everyone happy no doubt I will be criticised from both sides anyway! I have tried to be as fair as possible and I think this is a good assessment of the comparitive strengths of both squads. I know what you are thinking though, what would a ‘Manchester XI’ look like? Well obviously that is difficult to answer because of formations etc, but I think a team looking like this would be pretty strong:
Rafael Kompany Vidic Evra
De Jong Yaya Toure
Tevez Berbatov Rooney
Now I realise a ‘Manchester XI’ is an abhorent thought to all Mancunians but that would be pretty sensational and yes I realise there is 6 City players and only 5 United, but come on its been nearly 35 years give me something to enjoy!
If this is something that you think you would like more of, or if you just want to see what other rubbish I come out with follow me on twitter www.twitter.com/soccercityjoe
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