Thursday, March 20, 2014

EPL 2013-2014

EPL 2013-2014

The current football season in UK is about three quarters gone. The answers to the questions and speculations that were put forward at the beginning of the season are now beginning to take shape. Let's first list out the few most favourate questions:
1. Who will take the title come May 2014?
2. Who will take the last spot (4th) for EL qualification?
3.  How will be the performance of teams with new managers?
4.  What happens to Manchester  United after Ferguson?
5.  Will JM take Chelsea to glory the second time around, will he last?
6.  Can Tottenham push challenge for the title?

The question who will be relegated, does not seem to take centre stage as yet, except when there is a change in manager.


Q1 & Q2

The speculation that Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal are competing for the title is still very much the likely thing to happen. Can Liverpool wrest it from the three favourites? Yes, with their fine run of late and team positive attitude, it may happen sooner than expected.  To summarise, this competition is becoming a four team charging to the finish line. In a way this season EPL is unlike the previous years where the competition had by this stage turn into a two horse race. For this to happen two teams must have bad patches, through which they loss points, while the other two continue to flourish. Recently, bad patches have been experienced  by all the top of the table teams except Liverpool. Avoiding this bad patch is crucial for this resurgent club to overtake the rest of the competitors.


Will managerial change affects team performance? Yes. It is expected, but the important question will be for how long?  Players need to adjust to new systems and tactics introduced by a new manager. Besides, managers need to know their players. Players who fit the new system must be determined and if not available in the current squad, they have to be bought. Likewise, players not suitable to the system have to be offloaded. With so much at stake, especially financially, teams must adjust quickly and move on to a standard which is better than the team managed by the previous managers. Otherwise, there is no added advantage to change the managers.

However, expectations as above, is too much to be realised in the fist half of the season. Some teams need to take more time to adjust to the managers' system than others. Therefore, it is fair to give the new managers more time. But fans are always impatient. They need good results to come as quickly as possible. If the waiting is prolonged they demand immediate sacking of the manager. The club owners and directors respond to this quickly and got rid of the managers who do not fulfill the expected outcome.  Other clubs may choose not to react quickly and elect to give the benefit of the doubt to the managers.

Should managers be given more than a season to prove their capabilities? Fans differ in their assessment of the managers, and hence their response to the above question are also varied. But, one thing is clear.  Fans like versatility of the team even though they lose matches. Fans like to see progress, because they can hope for better performance in the near future. I am a fan of the current Liverpool manager.  When he was at Swansea, I thought, God willing, he can become the next great manager from outside continental Europe. True enough, after a difficult beginning at Liverpool his team began to play good fluid football towards the end of last season. Now, building up from last season, they are challenging for top honours.


Manchester United? The reigning Champions are still struggling. Fans' and journalist's comments say it all. A champion with interesting young and emerging players in the squad, who are in the class of Sturridge of  Liverpool, have yet to be harnessed to respectable skill with respect to their potential. When focus is directed to buying proven players, the young players might become another instance of players with potential leaving the club.  Fans may be excused if they have this kind of feeling in their stomach.

Meanwhile,  MU managed to score three goals with clean slate in two games, but gave up three goals in between the two. Ignoring how good the Liverpool strikers are, it can be seen that the defense can be tightened up to prevent overflow of easy goals.  This in turn should inspire the goalkeeper to play to his best, and thereby giving best possible contribution to the team. This was shown in the game against the Greek champions in UCL.

Can MU build a momentum using this latest win?  Difficult to predict. But for the sake of the fans, the players can become versatile and work cohesively like the way they have done the previous years.  After all they are virtually the same team that won the EPL last year. With the addition of Mata, the maturing of Januzaj game, and the clever use of Kagawa, anything can happen.


If Chelsea cannot win the EPL this year they can do it next year. They are co-favourites with Manchester City.


The top 5 teams are too strong for Spurs to make a challenge.