AT this stage last season, Manchester City sat on top of the Premier League table and were quite rightly regarded as the team to beat.
The style of play Pep Guardiola implemented at Barcelona and Bayern Munich, appeared to be working well in England.
Some even compared Guardiola’s City to the great Dutch team of 1974, and their Total Football philosophy.
This year, Man City’s start has been even better, and after nine games they’ve scored more goals and recorded more points than 12 months ago.
It was also around this time things started to unravel, as a combination of inconsistent form and an incredible run by Chelsea, meant by May they had dropped to third.
The Eastlands club finished 14 points behind Antonio Conte’s side.
Could history repeat itself then?
It’s looking less likely, but it was a question I raised to a group of City supporters earlier in the week.
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They pointed out that while they’ve undoubtedly impressed, their start hasn’t been completely blemish free.
A Raheem Sterling volley salvaged a 1-1 draw at home to Everton in August.
Even though they hammered Liverpool 5-0, for 20 minutes, before Sergio Aguero’s opener and Sadio Mane’s dismissal, the Reds could have been two or possibly three goals ahead.
Even the Chelsea team they beat 1-0 was a shadow of the side that won the league.
If you let Kevin De Bruyne have the freedom of the pitch like he got at Stamford Bridge that afternoon or like Stoke allowed him last weekend, of course, he will hurt you.
Perhaps we are clutching at straws, but it’s the chink of light the chasing pack are hanging on too.
This is probably starting to sound like the ramblings of a bitter Red…
But if we are to heap praise on City, then we should also point out they finished last season without a trophy, while United, who finished sixth in the league, took home three.
United were woeful in West Yorkshire and that’s putting it politely, but there’s no reason to panic just yet.
Great sides are defined by trophies, just ask the Liverpool team of 2013-14, or Newcastle under Kevin Keegan in the 1990s.
They were both pleasing on the eye but didn’t have a trophy to show for it.
City are a different proposition entirely, and as a football fan – and with age – it’s hard not to commend their attacking play and relentless pursuit of goals.
Jose Mourinho took to publicly criticising his players’ attitude after the Huddersfield game.
But judging by the reaction over the last seven days or so, you’d think United were in the middle of a ten-game winless run.
There’s clearly work to be done and the next two games against Tottenham and then Chelsea could help shape United’s title challenge.
Don’t be surprised if the approach is the same though, based around defensive discipline and organisational excellence.
It’s what Mourinho does… but what he also does, is win trophies.
This hunt for success may not bring the free-flowing football some United fans crave, but few will complain if there’s a couple more trophies in the cub museum next May.
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